Warp & Weft

See a working Warp page and one-week sample linked from the Year 1, Unit 1 page!

Click Here for a Warp & Weft Project Explanation!

NOTE: The Warp and Weft Project is subject to change as we progress through the design phase. We want to keep you informed of our goals and progress, but please also understand that the design of the Warp & Weft may shift as we continue to develop these products and respond to feedback from beta testers, etc.

In an effort towards stabilizing the booklist and also improving our Grammar and Dialectic levels, we are starting to construct our own spine history texts in audio, digital, and (eventually) print formats. We call this the “Warp & Weft Project.”  Having said as much, and knowing how the Tapestry community loves extensive booklists, I want to make a few caveats up front. First, we still love rich, living book, multi-perspective education!  We have no intention of writing “one history book to rule them all” and turning Tapestry into a curriculum that can only be done as a textbook-based program.  At the same time, the past twenty years have shown us a few things:

  1. Lack of a stable overview history text can be terribly frustrating for teachers, students, and curriculum designers alike.
  2. We hate recommending inferior books simply because there is no other history overview text available. 
  3. Especially at the Grammar levels, we cannot easily give you history discussion materials because the books we rely on keep going out of print.
  4. For some of our customers on a tight budget, with tight storage space, serving as overseas missionaries, or working in a large group (school or co-op) context, spine books would simply be a godsend.
  5. At the Dialectic level, there is an especial need for a stable “basic” text that provides the facts for discussion. Spine history books at this level tend to be disappointing, or to go out of print on a regular basis. Both problems also lead to some “mismatches” between the discussion scripts and the readings.

Having experienced these problems consistently over the past twenty years, we felt it was time to at least attempt the writing of our own spine texts. (Keep reading to find out how we plan to integrate these with our current 2,000+ library of living books!)

From the very beginning of this project, we were inspired by looms, which are set up with a “warp” and “weft” of vertical and horizontal threads.  In many cases, the picture of the tapestry is woven into the fabric itself.  However, some famous tapestries (such as the Bayeux Tapestry) are actually formed of colorful threads stitched onto a sturdy cream-colored foundational cloth formed by the threads of the warp and weft.  We decided that although we don’t want to lose our colorful, vivid, living books, our rich perspective books, and our classical books, we do want to offer a sturdy underlying overview that teachers and students alike can use to understand the basic information of a given period’s history, church history, philosophy, literature, government, art, and music.  

We call the Grammar level spine books “Weft Readers” and we are thinking right now that they will eventually be available in both digital and print formats. Their content will also be reflected in our Warp & Weft Audios that “hit the highlights” of both Warp and Weft readers.  You can already listen to our Weft History Audio samples (see below). 

The Warp & Weft Audio is designed for all ages, but we intend to produce Weft Readers for Upper Grammar students (and LG students who have become fluent readers) as well. We are working on Weft Readers in History, Church History, Literature (like our Shorter Works Anthologies, only for Grammar students), and Science. We are considering the idea of incorporating Mathematics and perhaps providing a Grammar-level version of Poetics (or perhaps simply short audio lessons to help guide students in beginning literary studies).

At the Dialectic and Rhetoric levels, we refer to this spine text project as the “Warp Reader” (or “the Warp Drive” for our Star Trek fans, of whom there are many in the Somerville family).  We think that at least one version of the Warp will web-based so that we can continuously improve, update, and hyperlink to other resources, and so that students can use it as a sort of customized Tapestry encyclopedia for research as they write papers and prepare presentations.  We will probably also make downloadable digital and print versions of the text (and map images) available… though of course these will lack all the pictures, videos, and links available on the web-based version.

As with the Weft, we want our Warp to be rich in the basic information and overview features that will orient upper-level students as they prepare to read all our living and classical books.  In addition to that basic information, the Warp will also include summaries of multiple perspectives on various topics, and (where feasible) primary-source documents (or links to longer documents: e.g. Ben Franklin’s Autobiography on Project Gutenberg).  We may also incorporate Book II and Appendix B of Poetics into the Warp, but that is a still-pending design decision.

We have set painfully high standards for these products, desiring that the Warp and Weft should combine our best and most precise scholarship with primary sources and “fresh” historical details, provide every bit of information called for in accountability question, and be written with a marvelous sense of fun!  To that end, we have also invented two characters for the Weft–Ted the Thread and Nelly the Needle–to help guide our younger students through history discussions in the Warp & Weft Audios.   

Beginning with the 2024 edition, we plan that the Warp and Weft will replace World Book articles and perhaps half of Poetics (the Literary Toolbox may cover the remaining half) as information resources for both students and parents. This measure will considerably lighten your “printing load” for the curriculum, as you will be able to access background information from a trusted source (the Warp) any time on any device, but will not have to print out all that information. (If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact us! In all our design processes, we give much weight to your comments and concerns.)   

What will these new Warp and Weft resources cost you? That is yet-to-be-determined, but it is our avowed policy to keep prices as low as we reasonably can given costs of development. (It is really hard to do even a small curriculum development project for less than $5K, and the average is more like $20K-$50K. This is not an average project: it is a big project.) We think, however, that we will be able to actually save you money with the Warp and Weft project. How? By lowering the cost of your booklist.

Let’s say, just as an example, that a set of Weft history and literature books for your Upper Grammar student for a year cost $30. Let’s say that you would normally have spent about $120 on Upper Grammar history and literature books per year. Well, now you have “spine” books that will definitely cover all the needed information, and you have $90 left to buy whichever living books you think will most capture your students’ interest without having to worry about what information is included. Or, if money is tight, you can use the spines alone and visit the library, supporting links pages, or both, to keep your book costs as low as possible while also feeling confident that you have everything you need included in one set of volumes. If you are teaching a Grammar co-op class, this also means that you can read from/listen to, or assign readings from (for older students) the same spine, and then let students share more thoughts from whichever living books they are also reading in their homes.

Or, pretend you don’t especially like our Weft Reader—something about the written style bothers you. (We promise not to be offended, but we do hope you’ll let us know how we could improve it!) In that case, you can skip the Weft and instead choose from our wide range of living books (our booklist tool will let you search all 2,000+ of them). The answers to history discussion questions for Grammar students will be included in your Teacher’s Notes for sure, so even if you don’t use our audios or texts, you will know the answers and can explain them to your student in cases where his reading doesn’t match. Or, you can ignore our questions and answers and simply enjoy the History books you have chosen! It’s up to you!

Now let’s consider the Warp. At the levels of Dialectic and Rhetoric, we have many rich books that seldom go out of print and are (we feel) important for students to read. Therefore, at these levels, the Warp will probably be even more supplemental to the living and classical books already populating student’s reading assignments, just as Poetics provides a reference spine that in no way replaces The Odyssey, the Bible, or The Great Gatsby for Rhetoric Literature students. So, say that a Warp subscription (or a Year X Warp Reader) for your student for a year costs $25. Let’s say that the Warp readings replace about five basic books per year (each costing at least $10) that you would otherwise have to purchase, and saves you about 300 pages of printing across the year. Well! Now you’re $25 ahead at least! That’s how we hope it will go.

There can be no question that this is a massive undertaking, but fortunately, we have some guidelines. We will use materials from the Pop Quiz, the Primer Guidebook, and of course the Teacher’s Notes in Tapestry of Grace, to help direct our topics, scope, sequence, etc.  The goal is that when we are through, you will never again have to wonder where to find the basic places, ideas, events, dates, people, etc., upon which and through whom God has woven His tapestry of grace.  To that end, we covet both your feedback and your prayers.

This is our extremely tentative production schedule for the Warp and Weft:

  • Summer of 2022: Release all four years of Weft History Audio and begin to work on Warp and Weft Readers. — Now available in the store.
  • Summer of 2023: Release the web-based version of Warp via subscription.
  • Summer of 2024: Begin to release Warp and Weft Readers in digital and print on a rolling basis as we complete them.

A final, important note: we welcome contributions to this project! If you are interested in writing Warp articles on any of our subjects, either as a volunteer or as a way of earning curriculum through our Work Study Program, please contact us! We will consider your qualifications, ask for a writing sample, and see if there is a way to make you one of our contributors. 

Warp Reader Subscription Pages

To see information on these pages, be sure you have purchased the Warp Reader Subscription and are signed in! Please note that you can also access these from the bottom of the gray sidebar on any curriculum Unit page.

Weft History Audio Samples

Please note that the Weft audios, once purchased, can be found on the curriculum Unit pages for each year plan.