By Glove and Cowl: Using Sewing Magick to Boost Our Words, by Raechel Henderson
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
On one of the last nice days of September, I met up with a friend in Chicago. We hadn't seen each other in a few years, despite living only an hour away from each other. We had kept in touch mostly through social media. After a while our conversation turned to social media, and the fact that both of us had cut off contact with certain friends and family in the past couple of years.
Since the election of Trump to the United States presidency, a common theme has emerged among my friends: rather than tolerating racist and sexist friends or family, we had just walked away from them. With the 2020 election coming up, the refrain of, "I just unfriended my aunt/dad/cousin/high school friend. It was just too much," is being heard again.
It goes beyond blocking out those words that are harmful. Many of us are using our words to push back. 2019 has seen protests not only in the United States, but across the world. Risking arrest and harm from government forces, people are making their voices heard. Our words are important, more than ever before. We speak out at protests and on social media. We reach out to others through Facebook groups and blog posts. We tweet and ‘gram and make YouTube videos to get our points across.
So how do we incorporate magick to enhance our message? I'm a practical witch. And I'm a seamstress. So, when I encounter a problem that requires some spellwork, I'm going to look for ways to weave the magick into my everyday life. With winter here, I find that I need to protect my hands and face when I go outside. Taking that desire for physical shielding and marrying it with a need to keep my words magickally secure led me to create some charmed winter wear.
I first need to protect my hands. Gloves or mittens won't do—I need to be able to use my fingers to type and sew and forage when I go on walks. To that end, I drafted a fingerless glove pattern. And while they will keep my hands warm and allow me to work, I also enspelled them to help my words flow and for my writing to always make sense. I want to pick the right words and strike the right tone so that my meaning is crystal clear.
For my face, I needed a different kind of magickal armament. When I am out walking my kid to school, or foraging, I want to be protected from any words intent on harming me or being a nuisance. The cowl I made will keep my face and neck warm. The charm I placed upon it shields me in an invisible wall that is impervious to ill-intentioned words. They will find no purchase on the shield to stick and cannot pierce it to get to me. I can pull the cowl up over my mouth and nose and stay cozy and unbothered while I am outside.
You can adorn your gloves and cowl in many different ways, depending on your skill level and desire. One of the easiest is to paint sigils or bind runes with fabric paint. You can embroider them, as well, if you are so inclined. In either case, choose a color that corresponds with the intention of your charm (for example: silver for communication if you are trying to get a point across, or orange if you are using your words in creative works).
This project uses fleece because it is a warm fabric that doesn't fray at the edges. This time of year it is usually on sale at various hobby stores, and it comes in a variety of colors and patterns. For the project below you'll need approximately ¼ yard of fabric to make a set of gloves and a cowl.
When you are finished with your gloves and cowl, you can charge them to their magickal tasks by burning some rosemary, mint, or lavender and passing them through the smoke. Call on the element of air and any deities you work with to bless the gloves and cowl. Say what it is that you want these garments to do, either out loud or in your head. For example, when I charged my fingerless gloves I said:
"Tip, tap, type
They heed the words I write."
In your mind's eye, see the words you post having the desired impact on your audience. See yourself at a protest, making your voice heard, while also being safe from any who would harm you for speaking out.
Below are the instructions for the gloves and cowl. This project is suitable for beginners and should take about an hour from start to finish.
Drafting the Pattern
To draft the pattern you'll need a piece of paper that is as long as your arm from your knuckles to your elbow, about 12-14" long. Regular printer paper will work if you tape it together. Otherwise, the back of wrapping paper, newspaper, etc. is suitable as well. Since I have a box of muslin scraps in my workshop, I used that for this project because I was out of any kind of paper. You will also need two pencils, tape or a rubber band, and scissors.
- Trace hand and arm on paper. Lay your non-writing arm down on your pattern medium. Keep your fingers together and your thumb spread as far from your hand as is comfortable. Trace along the outside of your arm, from just below the knuckle of your pinky finger, down to just above your elbow. Do the same on the inside of your arm, from just below your thumb knuckle to the same point just above your elbow. Finally, trace the curve formed by your hand and thumb.
- Next, using a rubber band or tape, bind the two pencils together with their points even. The distances between the two points will be about ¼". Go over the lines you just traced with one of the pencils. The second pencil will draw the exact line on the outside of it. Draw over all three trace lines. This adds ease to your pattern. While fleece has a bit of stretch, ease is important to make sure your gloves fit. Trace over the ease lines again to add a seam allowance.
- You will now need to close up the top and bottom of the pattern as well as the thumb edge. You can freehand those lines or use a ruler to close them up. There is no need to add ease or a seam allowance to these edges as the cut edges of the fleece won't unravel, meaning they won't need to be hemmed.
- Cut out your pattern.
- Fold your fleece width-wise, right sides together and selvages meeting. This is important as fleece stretches width-wise and that stretch is necessary for the fit of the gloves, as well as for the neck warmer. Pin your pattern to the fabric near the selvage and cut out two pieces of fabric. Repeat so that you end up with four pieces total.
- Sew along long side edges using a ¼" seam allowance. Sew the curved thumb side ¼" as well. Go over the curved side again to reinforce it. Leave the straight edges open. Make sure to back-stitch when you start and end to anchor each seam.
- Clip the curves, making sure not to snip through the stiches. Turn the gloves right side out.
- Cut a 25" x 18" rectangle from the fleece.
- Fold along long side, right sides facing. Sew a ¼" seam on the long edge.
- Start turning the cowl right side out, stopping halfway, with the open ends matched up. Sew a ¼" seam around open side, leaving a 3" gap for turning.
- Turn right side out. Sew gap shut with a ladder stitch.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2019. All rights reserved.