Next Up: Color!
Wool and other fiber sources come in mainly natural shades of white, brown, gray, and black. To produce fabric in other colors, the fabric would need to be dyed. While today most fabric or textiles are dyed with chemical or artificial dyes, in Biblical times textiles would have been dyed using material found in nature like plants or even snails like the one pictured above.
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, for the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods who was a worshiper of God... Acts 16:14a
Those who once feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple embrace ash heaps. Lamentations 4:5
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Proverbs 31:22
Purple: The color of royalty. This was not a color that came from a plant. It came from a snail, specifically the Murex snail. This purple is often called Tyrian Purple after the city of Tyre in the Phoenician Empire on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The link above provides good information on how the dye was made. It was a stinky process but it produced an expensive dye which resulted in those who traded in purple goods being people who were not poor.
Scarlet: This color is also mentioned in the Bible. I can't be for certain but it is likely that scarlet dye came from scale insect in the Mediterranean area. The madder plant could also have been used to create a red dye for coloring fiber before or after they were spun.
Next Up: Processes!
Using a Drop Spindle: I could explain how to do this but it's much easier to show you so I will refer you to a couple good YouTube videos. Using a Drop Spindle, Introduction to Spinning, part 1, Spinning Flax with a drop spindle, and Spinning cotton on a supported spindle.
Weaving: Again, YouTube comes to the rescue here. Weaving is something that kids may have also done in art class at school. Remember making little potholders for your mom using that square loom that had pegs all around the edges and the colored cotton loops? That's the basic process of weaving. Depending on which warp threads you pick up and in which order, the pattern of the weaving will be different. This is why the pattern of weaving on your jeans (a twill pattern) is different from the pattern of weaving on your bed sheets. Primary Weaving, Overview - How to weave on a hand loom, Throwing the Shuttle.
Lastly: Suggested Resources
Check your local library for these books using inter-library loan if necessary. Play around on YouTube for more videos on spinning, weaving, and dyeing.
Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont
Hands on Spinning by Lee Raven
Spindle Spinning: From Novice to Expert by Connie Delaney
Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler
The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book by Rachel Brown
Kids Weaving: Projects for Kids of All Ages by Sarah Swett, Lena Corwin, and Chris Hartlove
Color in Spinning by Deb Menz
The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing by Eva Lambert
I highly recommend attending a local fiber festival. This will give you an opportunity to see many of the tools, fibers, and processes in person. Demonstrators love to talk about their craft and will answer your questions; you just have to ask them. :)
I hope that this series of posts have been useful. Please consider passing them along to your pastor or Bible teachers so everyone will have a better understanding of fiber arts in the Bible. It may also reduce the number of times I have to cringe when someone names a fiber art tool or process incorrectly. Remember, you WEAVE on a LOOM; you don't loom on a loom. :)