Knowing I would be away from my floor looms for a while, I put a narrow cottolin warp on my little Emilia rigid heddle loom to take with me. Mug rugs—perfect for travel weaving, to use bits of time here and there. I had some bulky wool yarn and a few rag rug fabric strips to take for weft. In a burst of hopeful inspiration, I grabbed a bag of Tuna/Fårö wool butterflies, leftover from my Lizard tapestry (see Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry) a couple years ago, and tossed it in my travel bag as we were going out the door.
Those colorful wool butterflies turned out to be my favorite element! They not only gave me colors to play with, they also provided variety, the spice of weaving. The forgotten Lizard butterflies will now be remembered as useful and pretty textiles.
How do you want to be remembered? Like my tapestry-specific butterflies put away on a shelf, our carefully-crafted words will soon be forgotten. Actions speak longer than words. Our deeds of faithful love will outlive us. Our actions that reveal the kindness of our Savior will stand the test of time. And that is a good way to be remembered.
May you be remembered for your deeds of faithful love.
This is a huge project. Four shades of blue from dark to light span the nearly one-and-a-half-meter-long rug. I have reached the final color-transition section. I am eagerly awaiting the day this rug will be rolled out!
My measuring ribbon shows me where to make the color changes. I alternate two weft colors (C and D) through the transition area to blend the hues. All the while, I stop after every half-unit of four picks to manage the draw cords. A graphed chart tells me exactly which of the 164 draw cords to pull or release. In this way the graphic designs are woven into the rug, row by row. I weave in quiet, allowing me to put full attention on each move.
We need hope in these unsettling times. Jesus invites us to admit our fears and failures, and put our trust in him, and follow him. And this is the message Jesus gives his followers: I am always with you. The Lord gives strength and courage. As our Grand Weaver, he has his full attention on us. So be strong and take courage.
The best thing about weaving a pictorial tapestry? Having a cartoon to follow, with row-by-row definition. This Siblings tapestry has its joys and challenges. It is a joy to weave Ari’s hair, as if I get to comb his locks into place. At the same time, it’s a challenge to see up close what can only be recognized at a distance. Lucia’s shirt is a joy to weave because of the bright colors and distinct shading. But what a challenge to get the right value of turquoise for the leg of the rabbit hutch in relation to the value of orange in Lucia’s left shoulder.
The yarn is my paint. I make decisions and adjustments as I see how the colors interact. Under the warp, of course, is my cartoon with all the details—outline, hues, value changes. That cartoon is constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It’s the key to this whole process.
In the joys and challenges we face, we make decisions based on what we see. Take a look below the surface. Look through the warp to see the cartoon. True love is in the details. Jesus instructs and guides through his love. Constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It makes perfect sense to follow the Maker’s cartoon.
Wool butterflies are my crayons. I use them to color the spaces of my color-by-number cartoon that’s under the warp. I am using Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool and Borgs 6/1 Fårö wool in this tapestry, combining strands of various colors to get just the right hue, value, and intensity. Getting that right is the hard part. Winding butterflies is the easy part. Especially if you learned it from Joanne Hall, as I did.
It is essential to know how to make a good butterfly when you want to weave a tapestry on a big floor loom like this. A good butterfly is compact enough to easily pass through warp ends. And secure enough to stay intact through all those passes. It also needs to have a tail that is simple to extend. A good butterfly never ends up in a knot or a jumble of threads, but instead, gives your hands pure delight as it flows through your fingers to color your tapestry.
This video shows how I make my tapestry butterflies.
Though small, this pocket-sized tapestry took a few months to complete. A car ride here, a coffee shop there, a move across town, and an imminent move across the state—this tiny tapestry has been in the background through it all.
The weft tails are neatly trimmed, but the back is completely exposed. I’m not weaving the tails in this time, nor covering them with a fabric backing. Just hold the tiny tapestry in your hand and feel it. Remember that all the pleasant color distinctions and pick-and-pick samples on the front side have a back side, too. True, the back doesn’t make as much sense. However, I want my friend who is receiving this to see and touch the heart of the weaving.
Steaming the tiny tapestry. 12/6 cotton warp pulls together nicely as the back of the tapestry is steamed.
This is a picture of grace. Look at the heart of the matter. We so often rely on the rules. Break a rule, and you’re condemned. But Jesus is interested in the heart. A pure heart doesn’t stand condemned. This is why the gift of his forgiveness is so wonderful. God knows the exposed messy side of our tapestry. Yet, his grace sees us as perfectly covered by Christ Jesus himself.