Wool, Weaving and Wisdom

A couple hours in an old mill taught us a lot about the Bible.

Another field trip idea to have fun while teaching.

Because. This.

Sometimes when I need a break from writing, I grab my camera, get in the car and set out to discover my extended neighborhood.

A few days ago, I ended up in an unexplored (at least to me) suburb – Oak Brook.

An enchanting mill sits on the banks of Salt Creek, nestled in a tree-shaded park. The mill wasn’t running that morning, but upstairs, both the spinning lady and weaving lady were happy to have someone to whom they could demonstrate their talents. And they were talented! (One was sitting on bench, her long skirt spread around her, surrounded by 1800 furniture, texting on her smart phone. Authentic.)

The basket of wool on the floor is a lot different-looking than a plaid wool jacket.

The first lady took me through the detailed steps of making thread out of wool. (The other explained the loom.)

Once home, I looked up wool and weaving in the Bible and found several verses that the demonstrations helped me understand. I got an entire lesson in biblical spinning and weaving! Amazing what we can find when we look for it. And amazing what we can teach our kids, simply by walking through an historic building!

(The Bible has a lot more verses about wool and weaving than these, but I chose these because I thought they would be easiest for a child to understand. Also, if the mill was working – which it usually is – the grinding process would give even more understanding to God’s Word.)

A spinner works hard carding the wool – getting out all imperfections and flaws – in the Bible wool (and snow) is a picture of sinless purity.


***  Judges 6:37 Behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.

 Gideon lays down fleece of wool to test God. The basket in the picture has wool fleece – giving kids a good idea of what this looked like.

*** Proverbs 31:13She seeks wool and flax,and works with willing hands.

 As I watched the lady prepare and then spin the wool, I saw the effort needed to make even one strand of yarn. Of course, I have seen people spin before, but this was a step-by-step demonstration. She also had a spinning wheel for flax. How can you tell the difference? One way is a container of water is needed for the flax spinning to keep the flax moisturized for easy manipulation.

*** Isaiah 1:18Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

I memorized this verse when I was young because I learned it as a song at camp. White as snow made sense, but become like wool, not so much. But this is a picture of carded wool, wool in which the imperfections have been combed away. In the Bible, snow and wool represent sinless purity.

*** Revelation 1:14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire.

 We often think of a plaid jacket or suit when we think of wool. So a picture of hair like white wool seems a little out of context. But again, when we picture the raw, combed wool, we get a sense of what this looks like. In this verse, wool is part of the description that represents the glory of Christ.

DSC_0994 2
Two illustrations in this picture – first we see the shuttle – an instrument a weaver pulls back and forth to guide the threads forming the woven pattern. Second, we see the weaver’s roll talked about in Isaiah.


*** Exodus 35:35 – He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

Kids may wonder how they got different colors of thread in the days of the Old Testament. The place I visited had a chart showing some of the natural coloring weavers used.DSC_0996

*** Job 7:6 –My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and come to their end without hope.

This verse is about the shortness of life – not something kids think about or understand, but this is an interesting picture. The brown tool in the picture is a weaver’s shuttle – the piece that draws the thread through the loom. Good weavers can manipulate it quickly … and complete the piece of fabric.

*** Isaiah 38:18b – … like a weaver I have rolled up my life; he cuts me off from the loom.

(See the roll in the previous picture.) Hezekiah was writing of his sickness, recovery and relationship with God. He uses the picture of a loom and how, when the weaver’s task is completed, he cuts the string that holds the wool/flax to the beams.

This was just one quick walk through a small historic building and yet, as you can see, there were several objects that helped illustrate and gave understanding to God’s Word.

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