I woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. This has always been a magical sound, and afters years of drought, a most welcome one. Eventually the sound ebbed. I got up to boil water for a cup of tea.
I just cut a project off the loom - a wool scarf for my husband Bruce. I’m done weaving - but I’m not finished! “Wet finishing” is next, a crucial step in the process of making fabric.
This is not just washing, although there is an element of that. You see, the yarn remembers. Remembers being spun, being stretched into a warp, wound around beam and bobbin. The threads of the cloth lie next to each other, only reluctantly going over and under. But they are still thread - not yet cloth.
The weaving goes into the warm soapy water. Pushed down, swirled in the water, gently squeezed. This is no sprinkling, but full immersion. Eventually, the threads relax, their roles as warp and weft forgotten, they lie comfortably together. The over and under of the weaving becomes part of who they are. In the case of wool, they can literally become part of each other.
A couple of rinses and it’s done. There may be future washes to clean and freshen, but this is the “finishing” - the transformation from thread to cloth.
Tomorrow is the first Sunday after Epiphany - the day in the year when we remember the baptism of Our Lord. We will be told “remember your baptism, and be grateful.” It is one of my favorite Sundays of the year. There have been other baths, and showers, and soaking in hot tubs. There may even be a few moments standing in the rain, and being grateful for that. But there is only one baptism.