I always knew I would weave.
From the time I got my first potholder loom as a child I was enchanted with taking thread and making it into cloth. I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandmother Hattie, who supported her family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by weaving rugs in the large attic of the house where my mother would grow up.
The dream of weaving took back seat to schooling, working, marriage, until one day I found a spinning and weaving shop near me, and signed up for my first weaving class. And so twenty years after my first loom, I finally got myself a real, grown-up loom. That was almost thirty years ago. I still use that loom nearly every day.
When I was a little girl, my mother told me that my name - Esther - meant “star.” Estoile is the old French word for star, the French version of my name is “Estelle.” And so I was always drawn to the stars. Who isn’t, really?
My favorite stargazing moments are with my husband. Even though we live in the city, near the coast, where light pollution and cloudy skies make stargazing difficult, it’s not uncommon for one of us to say to the other “come outside and look, Venus is so bright tonight” or “Mars and Jupiter are in conjunction tonight!”
I have special memories of stargazing, such as an evening walk through a meadow in the Yosemite Valley on our 20th wedding anniversary. The stars were so bright they lit up the white dogwood blossoms. We stood there, identifying constellations, until we realized that the large, dark shape not far from us on the path was a bear! Then we made a dignified, only slightly hurried retreat, back to the Ahwahnee Hotel.
The French have a saying: à la belle étoile - under the beautiful stars, out in the open, in the evening. They use it for outdoor dining, taking an evening stroll, sleeping outside. Just the time when a light wrap, a romantic shawl, might be called for.
The raison d’être behind French style is for every woman to feel beautiful, special and unique. And this is the inspiration for the scarves and shawls I make for Belle Estoile.
Weaving for Worship
My father was a pastor. It was funny growing up, the daddy I saw everyday with the goofy sense of humor (and really bad puns) was different from the dignified minister on Sunday with the black robe and the colorful stoles. My father was proud of his calling and the tradition of vestments that has lived on (with variations) for literally thousands of years!
My father retired before I started to weave, and I’ve always been sad that I didn’t have a chance to weave stoles for him. It wasn’t until many years later when I felt called to weave a set of stoles for my pastor, who was being transferred to a new church. Dyeing the threads to the appropriate liturgical colors, I then wove like the wind to get them done in time. With the weaving came the words of a poem, a prayer really - though I am not a poet! - inspired by the colors of the liturgical year.
Prayer and praise are an integral part of the weaving I do. My musical tastes are eclectic - I listen to Handel’s Messiah, traditional hymns, modern praise music, ancient Gregorian chants, and modern Taizé chant. Listening to music helps me keep the rhythm of the weaving, while focusing on the sacred nature of the work I’m creating.
I believe that being creative in whatever direction our talents takes us is a means to both glorify God and to live out our lives in the image of the Creator God.
Do you have a question about my story? Do you just want to say "hi"? I would be happy to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me.