I don’t want to tell you how many different colors I have of wool yarn. Most of it is 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö, but I have a good collection of other wool yarns, too. If it’s wool, I include it in my tapestry weaving. I have all of it arranged according to a 5-step value scale.
If I combine the colors of wool just right, I can make the exact color I need for a tapestry detail. This is the challenge on which I thrive. There are never enough colors. Or, so it seems. The truth is, I have more than enough color options. Besides, for tapestry, the exact hue of a color is not nearly as important as the value of a color in relation to the colors around it.
The Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth, Creator of color, makes himself known. Take a look outside. Everywhere we look there is more color than we know how to express. So, in our humble attempts to make yarn butterflies in exact colors, we are showing that we are indeed made in our Creator’s image.
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.
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.
When you want a better photograph you snap another picture. When you want a better tapestry you take out what you’ve woven and weave it another way. I recently showed you my progress on the tapestry of my mother. (See Tapestry of the Heart.) As I viewed the tapestry in photographs I could see that the 6/1 tow linen that weaves between the rows of wool was too bright. The golden bleached linen is lovely on its own, and melts into the background on the sides of the portrait. But this bright linen draws undo attention to itself within the darker portions of the tapestry because of the stark contrast. The day after that post I undid everything back to the starting line.
Undoing a few weeks of tapestry weaving is not physically hard to do, but making the decision to undo it is hard, indeed. Since then, I have been weaving every day to get back to the point where I stopped everything. This time, I am using a different color tow linen that will make all the difference.
Now, instead of golden bleached, the linen thread is a golden beige that disappears into the fabric, while holding everything together. Come to think of it, that is an apt picture of a mother’s influence.
It is a daunting task to weave a tapestry of an important person. Do I have enough skill to give what this project deserves? I started with a photograph of a beautiful woman in her eventide years, and made a workable cartoon. The person in the picture is someone who has significantly influenced my appreciation of beauty all around. This is my mother.
In preparation for the tapestry, I have been weaving sample areas of the cartoon. The eyes, the chin and neck, the mouth, the edge of the ear. The biggest lessons I’ve learned are to exaggerate contrasts in value, and to dull the colors that are adjacent to colors that I want to appear bright. It’s time to step out and give myself to the task. This is where I aspire to show more than the unique features of my mother’s face. It’s where I show her heart.
A generous heart always has enough. Giving out of our surplus is not generosity. However, if I give you what I’d rather keep, I give you some of myself. Give time, resources, support. Share talents, fascinations, insights. Mom, thanks for giving me so much of yourself.