I have now been using a spinning wheel for over a year. Learning to spin last summer at San Juan Island was the first step. From there, I learned about textiles available to Georgia colonists (wool and flax) at Fort Frederica. This summer at Pipe Spring, I added weaving with a loom to my repertoire. I learned a lot about making cloth over the last year. The most important thing? Making cloth is a time-consuming process! So I have been interested to read in the Bible about all the times that wool and flax are mentioned.
Wool and flax are the two constant fibers for making cloth no matter what era you look at. So it should be no surprise that they are featured prominently in the Bible. After all, the Bible is concerned about mundane things like clothing. When Adam and Eve found out they were naked, they made clothing out of leaves (Genesis 3:7). Not the most durable material. But God made them clothing from animal skins (Genesis 3:21).
We read in Genesis that Joseph wore fine clothing made of linen (flax), more suited to the climate of Egypt than animal skins (Genesis 41:42). In Exodus the flax crop is destroyed as one of the plagues (Exodus 9:31). The curtains for the tabernacle are to be made out of linen, as are the clothes of the priests (Exodus 26-28). Rahab, the prostitute, hides the Israelite spies under the flax drying on her roof (Joshua 2:6). Leviticus 19:19 has the weird verse about not mixing wool and flax in cloth (wool makes the linen weaker). There are many other Bible verse that mention wool and flax, but you get the general idea.
My favorite verses about wool and flax are found in Proverbs 31:10-31.
10A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
I love these verses because they praise the work of women in a time when women were often not valued. Even the simplest things traditionally come from the work of women: food and clothing. Without them, where would we be?
Working with wool and flax has given me a new appreciation for the work of women through the centuries. The Bible is full of these kinds of references, if we take time to notice them. And I thank God that we no longer have to process wool and flax by hand in order to have clothing for our families!