Day after day, pick after pick, this fabric lengthens and becomes ever more significant. As daylight dims, I stay at the loom a while longer. The rhythmic series of weaving motions is soothing. A handweaver finds calm in the complexity and delight in the detail. Challenges that arise are seen as problems to be solved.
This monksbelt table runner has been a good long conversation between the loom and me. In fifteen more centimeters (six inches) I will put the closing exclamation point at the end of this lengthy runner. The warp that remains will be my playground for some creative experimentation.
When our patience is stretched thin, when we forget why we do what we do, when hard times go on longer than we ever anticipated, we need hope. We need more than what we can gain by ourselves alone. Relationship with our heavenly Father brings hope into the fabric of our days. He beckons us to walk with him through Jesus Christ. He wants to sustain us through the long stretches of this day-by-day life. The time will come when we look back with wonder, seeing the colorful threads that have become fabric for a beautiful purpose.
It’s as if every row ends with a cliffhanger, and I want to see what will happen next. I know the end of the story, but I’m still eager to see how it plays out. This is how I experience tapestry weaving. I linger here as long as I can. When I do walk away from the loom, I’m already anticipating the next time I get to do this.
I use a cartoon of reduced size as a color reference for making butterflies. A black-and-white version shows me value contrasts. I twist strands of yarn together to find a specific hue and value. Each new butterfly becomes integral to the cliffhanger story. At the loom, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of this story.
When I pray, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of life. Prayer answers our heavenly Father’s invitation to come and be alone with him. He listens as we talk to him about our life’s cliffhangers. Prayer is so much more than making requests. It’s about consulting with our Father to gain his heavenly point of view for the tapestry he is creating. When we see the strands come together just so, we know our life’s story is in the Grand Weaver’s hands.
For this second butterfly sample I am zooming way in, to expose more detail of the delicate stained-glass wing. Transforming the photograph into a weaveable cartoon is a fascinating task in itself. In real life, when do we ever get this close a look at the intricacy of the fluttering wing?
The primary reason for these butterfly samples is for me to gain a better understanding of how the details of the cartoon image relate to the sett of the warp on the loom. My goal is to thoroughly explore this style of tapestry. So, I aim to become adept in creating well-suited cartoons.
Let’s zoom in to the familiar scene of baby Jesus generations ago. The child born in a Bethlehem stable drew the attention of lowly shepherds, not impressive celebrities. Announced by angels, not by stately heralds. The detail clearly depicts something out of the ordinary: There is a kingdom that is not of this world. A King who shows up, not cloaked in royalty, but wrapped in the cloth on hand. What an intricate plan it is that a babe named Jesus would become our Savior King! And, that he transforms the image of those whose hearts invite him in.
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.
Documenting your work for repeatability is valuable for any any step-by-step process. With the Lizardtapestry I learned how to do the finishing, including the backing. By the time I was ready to put a backing on the Siblings tapestry, I had limited recall of that first experience. Now that Eye of the Beholder is ready for backing, I need help again. Fortunately, I made note of every detail while constructing the backing for the Siblings tapestry. So, this time I have the benefit of written and photo documentation. No guesswork!
How to Document Your Steps
Do research. Gather your notes, search resources, and get advice from experienced weavers regarding the process you want to document.
Outline the steps. Write out and number all the steps as you understand them. Doing this before you start helps you think through the entire process.
Refine the steps. Begin working through the steps in order. Adjust the steps as you go. You may need to add or eliminate steps, or change the order in which they are done.
Make it visual. Take a photo of any step that benefits from visual clarification.
Finalize. Simplify and clarify the instructions in every step as if they are meant for someone who knows less about this process that you do. Remove redundant and/or unnecessary photos.