06th Jan 2008

A Look Back — The Stole of Nodes

Stole of Nodes

Clerical stole made of wool crepe, with Warm and Natural cotton batting. The lines of color are very narrow silk ribbon, couched onto the surface with invisible nylon thread, with Metrosene in the bobbin, quilted all the way through. The binding is piping made from the same wool crepe on the bias, filled with cotton cording. The “Nodes” are individual unique buttons, sewn on by hand. Photo quality is not great, due to challenges of light and the varied materials.

So almost two years ago, I made my first clerical stole, for a very good, very patient friend. He designed it, and I came up with the execution, taking into account his aversions to certain fabrics and other personality quirks. It took nine months, from start to finish, lots of that time spent in pondering and wrestling with just how to make the whole things work.

The idea behind it is that each node, or button, represents a person. The lines between them represent how every person is connected. Some lines go off to nodes unknown. For practicality’s sake, I did not put a line of every color leading to every other color, but all of the nodes are connected to all of the other ones, some by way of third parties.

Nodes Detail 1

The technical aspects of this particular stole were pretty challenging. Figuring out what to make the lines out of so they would read to the back of the sanctuary was the first big step. Once I chose the silk ribbon and it arrived from the mail-order place, I had to figure out how to get it on to the stole — glue? Fusing? I ended up couching it with nylon thread because it was the only method by which I could keep the lines relatively straight, allow them to cross over and under each other, and not bulk up too much under the buttons.

Nodes Detail 2

The edge finish is the main aspect I would do over. I thought the piping would give me a good, clean edge, but the wool crepe was just a bit too thick to manage as well as I had hoped. In hind sight, I’d probably do the quilting onto the batting only, then “bag” the whole thing — this is a finish I’ve used extensively since then, and it works quite well. The other option was to turn the top over to the back and hand stitch it down in a reversed self-binding, but I found that really bulky as well.

Nodes Detail 3

I am extremely happy with how it came out, though of course there are things now I would do differently, having made a number of additional stoles since then. What pleases me most about it, looking at pictures and remembering the day of C’s ordination when it was placed on his shoulders, is how well it suits him specifically.

I make stoles not just to make them, not to mass-market them, but for a specific minister at a specific time. I want them to be an expression of that person, of the ministry they will do in their congregations, to say something about who they are as ministers.

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