Valley Grove Tapestries: In the Graveyard

A graveyard flanks the Valley Grove churches, filled with interesting memorials–some very old, some quite recent. My tapestries will hang in the stone church next summer (OMG, that seems like challenging goal right now).

This is a graveyard scene from inside the church.

When I was a little girl I frequently roamed a small cemetery filled with Norwegian-American immigrants, across the highway from my house on the farm in Northwestern Minnesota (South Bygland Lutheran Cemetery). I was amazed at all the names on some family headstones. So many children! And so many died as infants. It’s still a sad thing to contemplate.

Last year I wandered through the Valley Grove cemetery and was struck by a recurring motif. At least ten of the markers include clasped hands. This person died in 1863, only a year after the stone church was founded in 1862.

Some are worn.

This one seemed eerily realistic, with fingernails and the crease at the base of the thumb.

It seemed like an image that should be included in one of the tapestries, so I made a sample. I’m a great fan of sampling to determine whether you can effectively and nicely weave a shape at the sett you are using. (For non-weavers, sett means the number of warp ends per inch–whether there are many ends per inch and you can weave a very complex image or whether there are fewer ends per inch and the shape needs to be simplified.) I wove this sample at ten ends per inch and it worked fine for this piece that is 4″ x 5.25″.

I wove this on a small copper pipe loom, one that is easily carried around. On the back side I will make a sample of the Ladies Aid woman, described in this post: VALLEY GROVE TAPESTRIES: WHAT WAS I THINKING, PART TWO.

One other graveyard element might make its way into the tapestries. We’ll see…


  1. Robbie your weaving of the hands is beautiful. Do you know if they have a specific meaning? Where I grew up people displayed a hand with a heart on the palm. Patty

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