The jumble of yarn looks like a random play of colors. But if you look a little closer, and push the yarn butterflies out of the way, you can tell that the color choices are deliberate. You see only a hint of the image, though, until you look through the back end of the monocular, or step up on the step stool to have a look from up above the weaving. That’s when you get an overview of what’s on the loom.
This warp is a study project. I want to test some tapestry techniques to help me develop my style. I made the cartoon by cropping and enlarging a photograph I took years ago. The butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis! The subject for my study: the butterfly’s intricate wing.
Who designed the butterfly wing? A stained-glass artist may conceive it. A tapestry weaver may copy it. A silk dyer may imagine it. But only our Creator could bring it to life. God makes himself known. Push the obstacles out of the way. Look for design. Gain a higher perspective. With each woven row, the image becomes more and more clear. When the butterfly wing begins to flutter you know you are witnessing something from the mind of God.
I like having a project on one of my looms that is within reach of any friend who drops by. This new warp on the Julia fits the bill. Since I am using up several nearly empty tubes of linen, I am giving this warp an irregular color sequence. That should be interesting in this very structured 8-shaft broken twill.
I am making dish cloths here. Linen dish cloths. Why not wash dishes with something interesting? I am eager to see what develops as I add weft colors. Anyone else who sits at this loom can choose their own mix of colors. I hope we get some wild combinations that bring a smile to the one whose hands are washing dishes.
God’s wisdom is a far reach for our human understanding. The complexity of his creation shows us how much we still don’t understand. How could we ever reach that far? Our best efforts are like irregularities in a well-structured cosmos. Good news! God put himself within our reach. He did it at his own expense—the cross of Christ. When we trust in Christ our wild threads are expertly woven into cloth that he can use. Some of our wild combinations probably make him smile.
I can follow a published weaving draft to the letter and expect to get the prescribed results. Or, I can change details and make the project reflect my own ideas. That’s creativity. And that’s why each handwoven piece reveals something about the one who made it.
With every given draft, I determine the width and length for the project I want to weave, and make adjustments accordingly. That may mean adapting the threading sequence to fit. Sometimes I choose a different size of thread. In that case, I change the sett, as needed. Treadling variations also come into play as the fabric takes shape according to my preferences. I almost always choose my own colors. It’s in the colors that I find the most enjoyment of letting my creativity flow. What is your favorite element for creative expression?
Creative ability is meant to be an expression of wisdom. Wisdom is a combination of things—experience, intellect, understanding—all put into practice. What you create makes your inmost contemplations visible. Each individual’s creativity is a small example that points to the most astounding example of all. Our Creator reveals his supreme wisdom in every facet of his creation. And you are a prime example of his wise attention to detail.
I am ending this warp with spectacular stars. Or are they snowflakes? I got a new book of patterns just in time. My friend Cathleen shared her innovative source with me—Selbu Mittens: Discover the Rich History of a Norwegian Knitting Tradition, by Anne Bårdsgård. This book is filled with beautiful charts, perfect for translating into drawloom designs. It has page after page of classic eight-pointed stars, which look like snowflakes to me.
The star patterns all have an odd number of squares across the chart. My drawloom is currently set up with an even number of pattern shafts. To compensate, I am offsetting the star and adding a vertical dotted line. For the second row of stars I am flipping the offset and switching to a lighter shade of blue weft. I am also pulling the pattern shaft cords for the background around the star pattern. This reverses the pattern and ground, giving a different perspective of the same design, making the star blue and the background white.
Even when our perspective changes, the foundation stays the same. Truth endures. God speaks truth, even through his created designs. Stars in the heavens and snowflakes on the earth attest to the enduring truth of their Designer’s glory.
The sky is the limit! That is my conclusion after weaving a few designs using the Myrehed combination drawloom. The shaft draw and the single unit draw systems are combined on this ingenious apparatus that is attached to an otherwise ordinary loom. The shaft draw system enables me to weave repeated patterns. The single unit system enables non-repeat patterns. This narrow warp is my playground to do both.
I use the computer to create designs. ”Home in Texas” shows the back of our house, with its massive stone chimney. The tree in the scene is a tracing of the oak tree that I pass as I walk up the hill to my drawloom studio. The airplane is a copy of the Mooney that our pilot friend took us in to fly over Enchanted Rock. I am delighted to discover that I can use a drawloom to bring features of personal meaning such as these to life.
The words of the Creator have life in them. It’s as if he puts his thoughts on the loom and weaves them into being. Let there be light! He speaks; and it is so. Listen closely. Hear the Grand Weaver say, Peace to you. And it is woven so. You are his workmanship, bringing his design to life.