Valley Grove Tapestries: Tapestry 2, Roosters and Slow Progress

Primary images in the second Valley Grove tapestry are the stone church and a Ladies Aid member. This new tapestry underway has so many details and small elements in the pattern-filled background that it looks quite messy when you look at it on the loom. “Have faith,” I tell myself, “this design will come together in the end.” I’ve decided that I am not going to reveal full in-process photos from my loom, but will share woven elements along the way and talk a bit about why they are included.

The bottom and top borders honor the very old Norwegian Baldishol Tapestry, from 1180.

However, two of the ribbons in the bottom border will be replaced by the rooster motif from the weathervane at the top of the Valley Grove stone church.

Here is the first of two roosters from the bottom border of the tapestry.

Do you see the straight pins on the weaving? They are used to attach the cartoon to the loom. The tapestry is woven on its side, so the pins are at the top of the weaving. This tapestry has so many details and uses so many decorative joins and the weaving is SO SLOW. It’s a wonderful puzzle, one that requires constant decisions and so much concentration. How will this EVER get done? What was I thinking? But then–oh, I have to move the pin up closer to the line of weaving! I have a jolt of satisfaction as I realize that I am making progress.

A rooster weathervane graced the original church in the 1800s, but by 1905 the original steeple was removed. When the Valley Grove Preservation Society replaced the long-gone weathervane, they followed a 19th century pencil drawing found on an old board that was used to guide construction of the original.

John Maakestad used the old sketch to guide construction of the replacement. 

Here’s the rooster atop the stone church steeple.

The original spire was removed from the stone church in 1905, according to church records. The new cupola, based on historical sources, was erected in 2007.

The rooster also appears, in an abstracted form, on the woven stone church. I was worried about weaving the church, that it would be sort of large and boring within the design. The steeple looked difficult to weave attractively, and how would I represent the windows? I couldn’t depict the window panes realistically. But it’s turning out well! The steeple lines are clear and crisp, and the little blob at the top of the steeple has a bit of rooster-like quality. I decided to weave the windows in pick-and-pick technique (or kjæringtenner, if we are using Norwegian), which works well for the billedvev abstracted style.

Happy New Year, everyone! After coming out of a three-week Christmas-cancelling tunnel of influenza, I am happy to have this colorful challenge each day.


  1. So glad you are feeling better! Thank you for sharing stories of the tapestry. I especially enjoy the historical connections. Stay well!!

  2. Robbie, i am having so much fun following you on your journey on this tapestry! You are doing a fantastic job. The church is so blessed to have you do this!!!

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