Is there such a thing as too many handbags, pocketbooks, tote bags, and purses? Of course not. Naturally, my favorite handbags are made from handwoven fabric. Linings made from remnants, handwoven bands used for shoulder straps, hidden zippers, and, of course pockets–these are the details that other people will seldom notice. Yet these are the details that make me smile every time I use one of these bags.
…You know that box of handwoven bits and pieces? Those weavings from the end of the warp, and the “scraps” from various projects? Hmm… looks like I might need to make another handbag or two.
Here is my collection of handwoven handbags, divided into a few categories. Plus, a short video just for the fun of it!
This project has been on my mind for a long time. But I purposely waited to begin until I could weave it on my new sweet little loom with a view. Four Decorative Sample Strips, it’s called in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. It includes four-shafttapestry, as well as weftinlay techniques. Each of the four strips will be a sampling of 8-12 different patterns or techniques. The weft is all linen, in various colors and sizes. Several strands are bundled together and made into butterflies. I have the sections mapped out, but the actual designing is happening at the loom.
The box of vibrant shades of linen that sits by the loom makes me think of the wonderful colors in creation. The Grand Weaver puts an assortment of strands together, making something as only He can. The world belongs to its Maker. We are His. Sometimes we forget that it is not that He is in our universe, it is that we are in His. I love the way He puts an assortment of us together to put a splash of color on His tapestry.
What can you do with odds and ends? Plenty. I do use new cotton fabric for my rag rugs. But I refrain from buying new fabric until I absolutely have to. It’s a good challenge to combine available colors from previous rag rug projects to make a new design. There are two piles of color for this double binding rag rug. The blue pile and the brown/black pile. The color blocks switch places in the rug about every seventeen centimeters, with a three-pick white chain pattern in between.
I enjoy combining multiple shades of a color, such as the blue in this rug, to add character. Every odd fabric strip finds a place to belong. It ends up looking cozy and friendly. All the mismatched pieces somehow fit together.
We belong to somebody. We belong to the one who made us–the Creator of everything. He weaves the fabric strips together to make his beautiful design. Scraps become useful, and colors are mixed and rearranged in interesting ways. Together, the woven mixture has a purpose. A rag rug, made from odds and ends like us, puts the creativity of our Maker on display.
I love a challenging project! It is marvelous to have something on the loom that takes effort, concentration, and problem-solving skills (as long as there aren’t too many problems to solve). This inlay rag rug project includes all of the above, and it’s on the big loom–my favorite. This is handweaving at its best!
I am constantly evaluating the pattern, and making needed adjustments with color in the background and with the rya, and spacing the rya knots. Is this working? Or not? Take out a few rows, try putting something different in, step back for a better overall view. Moving and thinking, and beating it in hard, like it should be for a rug. The momentum of the hanging beater makes the hard work easy. And fun.
Ability by itself is not enough. Wisdom works with ability to produce craftsmanship of highest quality. Our Creator gives us insight that enhances our natural talents and learned skills. When wisdom partners with ability, creativity flourishes. And what a joy it is to be in the middle of that process.
What can compare to the thrill of unrolling freshly-woven cloth? Pulling, and pulling, and pulling until you get to the very beginning of the warp. As every towel unwinds, I do a micro evaluation, knowing that complete scrutiny comes later. I could not be happier with these towels! They are every bit as sensational off the loom as they were to weave. What a joy to be a weaver!
It wasn’t that long ago that I was winding lopsided quills, dropping the shuttle more than occasionally, and struggling to understand weaving drafts. Desire and a willingness to learn have pushed me through these and other barriers.
Willingness is more important than capability. Being willing sets the stage for learning. We all start incapable. God doesn’t expect us to be capable. He does expect us to be willing. God weaves His purposes on earth, not through the capable people, but through the willing. In weaving, and in life overall, I want to embrace and preserve the willingness factor that keeps me learning.
And as we yield our will to our Creator, what joy is ours as we learn how to truly live!