Hand Spindles and Church Windows

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April 7, 2008: I think four months has been the longest that I have ever gone without updating my web site.  This entry has a lot of pictures so patience is in order for the page to download.

 A lot has been going on. I set myself a task of learning to spin with hand spindles and that tiger just about got me! I struggled for about three months and it reminded me of when I first got a computer and the frustration and despair I experienced. However, I am fortunate because I have a cousin Joyce who spins with a wheel (she didn't like using hand spindles) who made many efforts to help me and  I met a new cyber friend, Jan Ford (see her web site here )who actually took the time to make two videos for You Tube to show me how she drafts the fibers and then in the blog of another cyber acquaintance who calls herself Spinning Spider Jenny (see her blog here), Jenny answered a crucial question and between the three of them I turned the corner and began spinning yarn using some hand spindles and a Mini Meggie Kick Spindle sold by Jan Ford. The Meggie is my favorite spinning device, although I do like my hand spindles.  I had always thought spinning wheels did the job of spinning yarn only to learn that spinning is a learned skill that takes place between the spinner's  hands. The wheel provides speed and a bobbin that it winds the yarn on; that is a simplistic explanation, but it also means that one can learn to spin yarn without a spinning wheel, although many who spin with hand spindles soon buy a wheel. Here are my hand spindles:

hand spindles
The upper one came in a kit and is a low whorl spindle...oh, I should mention that these pictures were taken
right after I began the learning process. The middle spindle is a high whorl spindle, the Pricilla Gibson-Roberts
lap spindle. The larger whorl beside it is for plying two spun single yarns together. The spindle on the right
is a Kundert spindle. They are of varying weights. I prefer high whorl spindles to the low whorl, because I find them
easier to spin.

kick spindle
This is my beloved Mini Meggie kick spindle. I spin the ball with my foot and it allows
both my hands to be free to draft and control the spin in the fiber. It allows me to spin
a longer amount of yarn before I have to wrap the yarn on the shaft of the spindle.

spindolyn and hand spindle
These last two are another hand spindle, the light weight Little Joe
that Jan gave me as a gift and I love it. The item in the back of the picture
is another type of spindle called the Spindolyn. It is sold by Catherine Goodwin
and you can see her using it on her web site here. The Spindolyn is new and
I have not had a chance to work with it yet.

first skein
This is the first skein of yarn I have ever spun. I plied together two spun singles made partly on hand spindles
and partly on the Mini Meggie. Although my  spinning has improved since these pictures
were taken, I still am working to get my yarn smaller and of more consistent size. But I
am at the fun part now. Persistence and a lot of help from friends and family pay off!

When I first got into computers I heard people say they don't want to try that because it isolates one. Well, I learned to spin from someone in Michigan, someone in Georgia and someone in Vermont while they were at their homes and I was struggling here at home in Texas without any hand spinners where I live. And in addition to that I made a new cyber friend!

If you are curious to see Jan using the hand and kick spindle in the videos she so generously made for me,  go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGWOho-uI5k where she is using the Little Joe hand spindle, and then  to see her using the MiniMeggie go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oFp0e5Z1O4 . Jan uses her hand and foot  to spin the Meggie in that teaching demo, but most people  use the foot, as you can see in this demo by Jan.

The reason I haven't had time to learn to use the Spindolyn yet is I am in the process of what I call the Great Cleanout Caper. I am completely reorganizing my studio and my house in order to find storage for all my interests. The supplies had taken over and I didn't like my house any more so I hired my daughter in law Tresa to be my drill sergeant--she is a whiz at seeing space where it doesn't exist and at organizing. Mitch is helping with the heavier chores, assembling new computer tables, hanging speakers, etc. Someone laughed when I said I have now limited my interests to the computer, doll making, knitting, crocheting, spinning, dyeing fabric and yarn, painting silk scarves, and photography. So maybe I should say I have defined those as my main interests. This Caper is so huge it will take weeks to complete.

Several months ago I was asked to be part of a three member design committee along with Cherie Saylor Garrett and Edwina Wieser to design new windows for our sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church.  Or task included selecting a company to make the windows if the congregation approved the project. The Reverend Kelly Chadwick was a big help to us in selecting the theme for the windows and we also profited from the generous sharing of information and research done by Jack Shelton and his committee of First Baptist Church who had recently had similar windows installed.  We designed the windows and selected a company to create faceted glass windows and the congregation approved the project.  They were installed in time for us to see them for the first time Easter Sunday. Here are pictures of the windows and their story.

 The theme of the windows is Toward the Cross.
They are made of thick faceted glass by The Cavallini Company of San Antonio, TX.
We collaborated with their glass artist/ designer in order to be sure our designs would be suitable for faceted glass.
On the left side of the sanctuary as you face the pulpit are the Old Testament windows; the New Testament windows are on the right.
The Old Testament and New Testament windows across from each other
 echo one another in events reflecting the development of the better covenant through Jesus.
The symbols can also have multiple meanings.
The original window design is groups of three slender separate panels per window.
 In our designs they are tied together by the travelling colors
and the red and amber frame; our carpets and pew cushions are crimson.

creation window
First Old Testament Window
Symbols are the sun, moon with a "cloud" passing in front, stars, water and the landscape.
For me, the three stars also represent the presence of the Trinity at creation.
Directly across from this window is the
First New Testament Window:
nativity window
The Nativity
Heralds a new creation, a better covenant.
Symbols are the Star of Bethlehem, the crèche, and the Gifts of the Magi.

tribes window
Second Old Testament Window:
The Twelve Tribes and the Lion of Judah.
The latter symbol  refers to the tribe of Judah, the dominant tribe of the ancient Israelites.
It can also serve as a forecast of the coming of Christ, for in Christian tradition,
the lion is often used as a symbol of Jesus; the phrase appears in the New Testament
book of Revelation, chapter 5, verse 5:"And one of the elders saith unto me,
Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."
The Stars represent the twelve tribes.
Across from this we see:

apostles window
The Calling of the Twelve Apostles/ Fishers of Humans
Symbols are the fishing boat, the net and the twelve crosses in the net representing the apostles.
Detail of the twelve crosses representing the twelve
Apostles. The one on the lower right, smeared with "blood"
represents Judas who betrayed Jesus.

law window
This Old Testament window shows the giving of the Law.
Symbols are the burning bush and the tablets of the Law.
Unfortunately, in the photo I was unable to bring out the symbolic writing
on the tablets, but they are the Roman numerals of the Ten Commandments.
Across is:

resurrection window
The Resurrection, the coming of the New Covenant
Symbols are the cross, the empty wrappings,
a butterfly symbolizing the person in Christ as a new creation, and Easter lilies.
The butterfly is also a traditional symbol of resurrection.

psalm23 window
The final Old Testament Window is the Twenty-third Psalm.
Symbols are the Shepherd's Crook, the cup, the waters, the landscape
and the sheep representing the Christian.
Across from this is the final New Testament window:

commision window
The Great Commission: to go and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit,
and Jesus promises to be with us always.
Symbols are the path of life or or the path of the Christian,
 the shell and water drops on the left representing baptism,
and the Bible on the right representing the Gospel
and teaching, The path goes through the symbol of the Cross
to the burst of Light that represents Life with God at the end of the path.
This window, my favorite, is unique to our church. While the other windows
contain symbols specifically designed by the committee, some of the symbols
have been used in other churches, although in different forms and settings.
This is the first time Cavallini has done this window design.

For perspective, here is a picture taken from the pulpit of one of the committee members looking at some of the windows:
perspective picture
Of course, pictures cannot begin to to capture the beauty of the sunlight shining
through the thick, faceted glass. It has transformed our beautifully simple little church
into a truly meditative Sanctuary.
It means a lot to have been part of creating something that  hopefully will bless and be enjoyed by generations to come.

 I hope  you have enjoyed this visit together. I will try to get the next entry up before too much time passes.

Last revised September 17, 2008

Copyright © 2001-2010 Rheba Kramer Mitchell. All rights reserved.