Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In today's liturgy

In today's liturgy, Diane is working on a liturgical stole commissioned by a Unitarian-Universalist congregation in Texas.  It's to be done by the end of this month.

A liturgical stole is a long, narrow garment worn around the neck by Catholic priests and Protestant ministers while conducting religious services.

Like many of the accouterments and accessories of Christian worship, the stole finds its antecedents in Judaic practice, specifically, the prayer shawl or tallis.

I've already made one tallis, a few years ago, for my daughter Julia, who is an ordained cantor in the Jewish faith   I wrote a piece about it for the print publication of the Unitarian-Universalist association, the UU World  You can read about that tallis here:

But I digress.

I've been commissioned to make a liturgical stole for a congregation in Texas, and here's what I have so far.  The right side in the image below represents the fall, and will end in a square piece bearing the image of a golden rain tree.  The left side represents the spring and will end in a square on which I will construct the image of a redbud tree.  These trees grow in the atrium of the congregation's building, in which a total of four trees represent each of the four seasons.

The stole will be reversible, and on its other side, yet to be constructed, the end squares will represent summer (crape myrtle) and winter (yaupon holly).

All four end squares will probably be done in a combination of applique and embroidery.

Also, at the nape of the neck, there is to be a representation of the congregation's iconic chalice.

This project is proceeding apace, and it better, as it must be done by the end of January at the latest.  To my dismay, up until now, there's been a long learning curve, as I floundered while I realized that I did not have the commercial stole pattern I thought I had, and that I would have to make a pattern out of an existing stole.  I borrowed one from one of the reverends of my congregation, the Unitarian Society of Hartford

I stumbled on the portion at the back of the stole where it crosses the back of the neck.  See how it's sticking up in this photo below?

When I flattened it out, I realized that the two arms of the stole are actually at angles to one another.

With the help of the folks at the Sew Inspired quilt shop of Simsbury, Connecticut,  I finally realized that the pattern had to be constructed on the bias.  This matters because bias cuts take up a lot of fabric, which is the opposite of what you might expect with something so long and narrow.  But as store employee Donna Della Camera pointed out, I could separate out the nape of the neck part, and just cut that, and not the whole pattern, on the bias. Thanks, Donna!

Once I wrapped my mind around that construction detail, I used Pellon printed with a 1" grid to construct the pattern accordingly.  I also figured out how to add an extension to the back of the neck to accommodate the image of the chalice.  Here's my husband Joe modeling the extended pattern.

Making that pattern was the hardest part, and it set me back more days than I had counted on.

Once I had that down, though, I went right ahead and used that pattern to cut two foundations of muslin, one for the spring and fall side, the other for the winter and summer side.  These foundations are the bases onto which the colorful strips are sewn.

Now the project is ready for one of the most enjoyable parts of the construction:  sewing the fabric strips to the foundation in a chevron formation.  The joy comes from handling these lovely batiks, juxtaposing their colors, and even relishing the heat of the steam iron I keep close by to press each piece as it's sewn.  Here are the first two sides, spring and fall.
Tomorrow I'll start the side representing winter and summer.

And I did look up today's liturgy.  In the Catholic tradition, the liturgy of the day is from the first book of Samuel, Chapter 3, verses 1 to 10 and 19 to 20.  In this story, Samuel was a sort of servant to a holy man named Eli, and one night, Samuel woke up to hear Eli calling out to him.  When Samuel went to Eli to see what he wanted, Eli said he hadn't called.  This happened two or three times until Samuel finally realized that God was calling to him, and the next time he heard it, he told God to speak because he was listening.  What did God say, and what did Samuel do about it?

Who knows?  All it says about that is,

"Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect."

Sheesh, what kind of an inconclusive ending is that?

I looked up the  Jewish Torah portion for the week and this one at least had a little more verve.  First, I learned that in Judaism, the readings go by the week, not by the day.  This week's Torah portion, I learned, is Parashat Bo.   Following the provided link,,  I  learned that this is from Chapter 10 of the book of Exodus.  In that reading, God tells Moses and his brother Aaron to go to Pharaoh and share God's complaint that Pharaoh doesn't respect Him.  They go to Pharaoh and complain and even threaten Egypt with locusts if Pharaoh doesn't start respecting God and letting the Jews worship Him.

It goes on from there.

I like my own liturgy better, in which Diane works on a liturgical stole.

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