For Christmas, I gave my daughter and two daughters-in-law a piece of paper with options for a custom handwoven article from me. This new project is the start of fulfilling those promises. Marie, my youngest son’s wife, chose a throw in vivid colors.
Opening a package with new tubes of thread is like Christmas all over again! This shipment brings the 8/2 cotton thread for Marie’s double weave throw, adding to what I already have on hand. From promise to conception of an idea, to collecting threads and dressing the loom, to weaving a gift—it goes from intangible to tangible. Threads turn into cloth!
Love holds us together. Threads of love create a sustainable cloth of connected people. Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, as an imitator of God. Not an imposter, who pretends to be god. But an imitator, like a loved child becomes an imitator of their dad. Consciously and subconsciously. Let the character of God become your character. And let the threads of love that he has woven in your life reach into lives he’s given you to touch. Let his promise to you become tangible cloth to others.
Everything starts on paper and in my mind. And then the action begins! Warps are ready now to dress two more looms. One in linen, and one in cotton. Linen for chair-seat upholstery, and cotton for kitchen towels.
These are part of the coordinating textiles I’ve been designing for our Texas hill country home. (See Awaken the Empty Looms) I am looking forward to the moment these fabrics become visible! The anticipation is electric! I will know the success of my plans when I can see and feel the fabric. Every step, including getting these threads ready for the loom, gives me a preview glimpse of the actual fabric to come.
Visible. Actual love is visible. It’s much more than kind thoughts and intentions. It is threads of kind thoughts that become touchable fabric in someone else’s life. Jesus Christ is the love of God made visible, in that God sent His Son so that we could fully live. How appropriate for us to make such a fabric visible for each other.
What a delight to weave with just oneshuttle for a change! It is relaxing to weave this Swedish lace wrap. Even moving the temple and getting up to advance the warp becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.
There is one thing that breaks my stride. An empty quill. If I have to stop in the middle of a sequence to wind more quills, I lose momentum and sometimes I even lose my place. Solution? Stop ahead of time at a sensible place in the sequence and wind quills to put in my loom basket. Then, while weaving, it’s a seamless motion to change quills and keep going. It’s a pause instead of a dead stop.
We need to prepare for those times when people seem harder to love. It helps to think ahead, and fill our heart basket with the thoughts of kindness and humility that are essential to keep going. We have a good reason to love each other. We have been loved first. God so loved us that he gave his son. This is the Christmas news. God sent his son to be born here on this earth to be with us hard-to-love people and to save us. That’s good news worth celebrating!
This little tapestry has been almost finished for a very long time. I stopped short of completion months ago. I’ve missed my small tapestry weaving, so I’m back at it. Only a few steps remain with this one. Soon this little color gradation sweetheart will be on the wall, to be enjoyed.
The finishing steps are not difficult. (Rebecca Mezoff gives excellent instructions in Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms.) After the piece is removed from the loom, it is steamed. Then, weft tails are sewn in and/or trimmed on the back. Half Damascus knots secure the warpends. The hems will be folded under and stitched down. Then, this little masterpiece will be ready for mounting and display.
Here is an ancient description of an interesting woman, as told by another woman.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
—from Solomon’s book of Proverbs
This is the type of woman I admire. Wear the best clothes that money can’t buy—strength and dignity. She has optimism. No anger. She speaks with wisdom and kindness. These are finishing touches I ask my Maker to work in me. To be a woman ready for what she was made for.
Is there anything as exciting as cutting off? Oh sure, there will be some errors to mend. And only wet finishing will reveal the true nature of the cloth. But after investing hours and hours at the loom, cutting the fabric off is a celebration. This is the moment when the work of this weaver’s hands is finally revealed!
While admiring and examining the fabric as it comes off the loom, I am already moving onto the next step–finishing. Here are a few of my regular practices.
Thread-mark the right side of the fabric on each sample and individual piece before completely removing the fabric from the loom. This removes guesswork later. Thread a blunt-tip needle with 6 – 8″ of warp or weft thread, and make a 1/2″ stitch through the fabric. Leaving a loose loop, tie the ends of the thread together in a square knot on the right side of the fabric.
Tie sequential knots in the thread marks. e.g., First towel has one knot, second towel has 2 knots, etc. This enables accurate record-keeping measurements before and after wet finishing for individual items.
Cut pieces apart before washing.
1. Two weft picks have been woven for each cutting line. The two threads make an easy guide path for the scissors.
2. Use the same cutting-line color for every project (I use red, unless red is one of the weft colors in the project). This helps prevent accidental cutting at weft design stripes in the piece (which I did once –Oops!– before establishing this rule).
3. Pull out the cutting-line threads. Any remaining thread residue is easily removed with a lint roller.
Finish the cut edges with an overlock stitch on a serger or with a zigzag stitch (preferably a three-stitch zigzag, according to my friend, Elisabeth) on a sewing machine.
Humans are not finished until they are loved. Love is patience and kindness at the core. We want to be on the receiving end of that, don’t we? We all need someone to love us–to carry our burdens, to believe us, to hope the best for us, to endure with us. It’s in the finishing that we discover the value, the corrections needed, and the beauty that has been woven in. This is the love of God to us. This is the finishing work of Jesus Christ, and his love in us.
May you have many cutting-off celebrations.
With love, Karen
PS It’s good to be back with you! I hope you had a pleasant and weaving-full July.