Saturday, February 6, 2010

Valerie's Tallit

My niece's Bat Mitzvah went well. Her tallit was finished, pressed, and she seemed to love it...well, given the color, which she chose, that was a given!


Isn't she just adorable? She got the dress in blue, not pink, because the tallit was hot pink, brighter than the photo shows. Good choice!

And here are my older 3 kids, Val, and her brother, all in the tallitot I made for them. Not the best view of my work, but I just love the group of them! They were all delightful, too...Jamie had an aliyah alone, my 3 had an aliyah together, and Wendy chanted.

Now, on the making of the tallit...

I decided that Valerie's had to be the Four Mamas from the Bible, to match the four corners required for a tallit. That was easy, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel. No problem...but I had to find symbols for them all!

Sarah, well, she laughed when God told her that she would have a baby in her old the mouth is Sarah's laughter.

Rebecca...well she favored Jacob. Encouraging sibling rivalry may be what she's famous for, but not what I wanted on the tallit! Several people (on Ravelry and in person) suggested that she was generous, that she watered the camels. Val didn't want camels (too bad...there are some gorgeous camel embroidery patterns in Australian Inspirations magazine!), so I used the blue background for the water.

Leah, Jacob's first wife, had many children, so she is the mother and child symbol.

Rachel, Jacob's beloved, was beautiful, so the eyes are for her.

The gold thread is Kreinik gold metallic thread...not as bad to work with as I was expecting. I found it easier to leave a tail when I started end ended, and use regular sewing thread to tack the tails to the stitching underneath afterwards.

The pink silk noile was a find from my friend Sharon, from one of the online fabric stores...Sharon pointed it out to me, I called Val up and sent her the link, and she was very excited by the prospect. I think it works great for her! It's loud, but it suits her. I planned to use a changeable dark greyish blue taffeta for the water, but it had a nasty crease line in both directions, that just wouldn't work. So the local quilt shop came through with this teal. It's a cotton/silk really soft, slippery blend, but when sprayed with quilter ironing sizing it behaves. Water spots it badly, but evens out once rinsed.


When I was tying the tzittzit, I realized that I had figured out how to do them consistently, so that the spirals started and stopped in exactly the same place, as the instructions require, but never explain how to do. The commercially tied tzittzit don't necessarily get this right, either. So, I took pictures!

Here are the 3 cords plus the longer shamesh.

The cords go through the hole, and the 7 ends get evened up, with the shamesh hanging longer. The shamesh was put through the hole to the inside, so it will always wind up on the bottom, when I'm done with each double knot (granny knot).

The granny knot tied, pretty straight forward so far. But this next bit is the trick: See the shamesh? It's on the bottom half. I ALWAYS "fair up" my knots so that it is in the center of the clump of threads, and pull it towards the front.


Now, as you pass the shamesh around to the left, then behind the stands, you can wind it the prescribed 7 times, and you end with it on top. I keep hold of the strands the whole time, to keep them neat and taught. I toss the shamesh to the left, then reach underneath to grab it and bring it back to the right and top. Divide the strands into two sections, 4 on the right, 3 on the left.


Add the shamesh to the group on the left, holding it towards the center of that group.

After that last double knot, keeping the shamesh towards the center, you start the next spirals.


It takes me 15-20 minutes to tie one corner of tzittzit.

Lastly, I'm not sure why, but I love this shot. You can see Beth's flowers on hers better, anyway.