Friday, July 19, 2013

Fiber Arts for Bible Teachers & Preachers, Part 1

She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.  Proverbs 31:19

Fiber arts terms are found in many placed throughout the Bible.  As a person who enjoys the fiber arts, I find the mention of these terms encouraging.  What I find discouraging (though truly cringe worthy) is the lack of understanding of these terms among Bible teachers and preachers.  So, here's my effort to provide a resource for those who would like to better understand the fiber arts that are mentioned in the Bible.  If I didn't answer your questions, please comment below so I can respond with helpful answers and so all who read the post may benefit.

First up: Tools!

Distaff: a stick that can be forked or straight that is used to hold the fiber that has been prepared for spinning.  The 1st picture above has 2 distaffs that have been dressed with flax.  Dressed means that the flax has been distributed around the distaff so that it will be easier for the spinner to spin from it.  The 2nd picture looks a little more like wool on the distaff. The blue ribbon on the distaff is to help keep the fiber in place on the distaff.

Spindles: Spindles come in many different sizes and styles. The weight on a spindle is called a whorl.  If this whorl is near the top of the stick, it is called a top-whorl spindle.  If it near the bottom of the stick, it is called a bottom-whorl spindle.  I'm not going to attempt to say which exact type was used in Bible times but please know that both types have existed for many years.  I'm also not here to argue which type is better.  The weight of the whorl helps determine what kind of yarn will be spun.  The lighter the whorl, the finer the yarn.  The heavier the whorl, the thicker the yarn.  The whorl of the spindle does not have to be a round disk.  The spindle with the curved cross bars for a whorl is my favorite drop spindle to use.  It is called a Turkish drop spindle. 

Spinning Wheel: Yes, we have them today but they did not exist in Bible times.  This is where the ESV Study Bible notes for the verse above have it wrong. I'm not going to explain this tool (I love mine!) because it won't help you with the intended message of this post.  :)

Leviticus 13:48
... like a weaver I have rolled up my life; he cuts me off from the loom... Isaiah 38:12
Loom: This is a weaving tool and there are many different types and sizes of looms.  It is a structure that keeps the warp threads under tension while you pass the weft threads over and under the warp threads.  This is how cloth is created.  Take a look at your pants. You should see a bunch of threads that run up and down with threads that pass over and under them going side to side.  The cloth for your pants was made on a loom.  Look at the fabric of a t-shirt.  It looks like a bunch of 'V's in columns or interconnected loops.  Your t-shirt is made of knitted fabric and it was not created on a weaving loom.  See the pictures below.
Plain Weave Diagram - notice the separate up and down and side to side threads.
Knitted Fabric Diagram - notice the interconnected loops
The warp threads are the ones held under tension on the loom.  The weft threads are the ones that go from side to side going over and under the warp threads.  Weft threads are placed one row at a time while the warp threads are all in place before weaving begins.  The old term for weft is woof.

Cutting the project off the loom is part of the finishing process of a weaving project.  

A word of caution: Using a loom to create cloth is called "weaving" not "looming."  If you use "weaving" you sound like you know something, but if you use "looming" it sounds like you haven't learning a thing.  :(

My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and come to their end without hope.  Job 7:6
Shuttle: The shuttle is a tool used to hold the weft thread that will pass back and forth through the warp threads. The picture above is of stick shuttles ready to use on a loom.   Weaver's shuttles can move rapidly through the warp threads.  The shuttle used in this video clip is a boat shuttle but I also want you to notice how fast the shuttle can pass through the warp threads on the loom.


Part 2 of this topic will cover Fiber while Part 3 will cover Processes and Resources.  These posts will follow over the next few days.  Please consider passing it along to your pastor or Bible teachers so everyone can have a better understanding of fiber arts in the Bible.

Don't forget: If you have questions, please ask them.  :)

Thank you,
Sister Jane
Romans 14:8

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