A new tallis is in the making. Bluebirds in Autumn…
These are the sketches I made for it. My customer prefers a bit of a background. I prefer the plain white background. I think I may adjust somewhere in between, a paler cream background so the birds and leaves still pop like they do on the white.
We’ll see how close it comes out… I’ll be working on it most of the day today while my husband watches the kids… he doesn’t know this yet, I’d better go break the news.
It’s been a while since I posted, mostly because I have been so busy finalizing my packaging and display for my newest obsession: The knitting abacus. The knitting abacus, or ABLET (ABacus braceLET) for those that don’t know is a uniquely designed row counter bracelet. My Patent Pending status came through a few weeks back and I’ve been busily trying to get all the loose ends tied to get marketing like a madman. The patent is due to the unique design in how this bracelet works. Much experimentation has gone into finding the perfect combination of beads and other materials. The beads slide on the string and stay where you put them until you move them. They don’t need to be manipulated through a loop. (Other row counting bracelets use a bead through a loop technique).
Of course, if you do know me, you know what an ABLET is because I’m driving everyone nuts talking about how much I love them and how I know absolutely anyone and everyone who knits or crochets is going to want one too! Maybe I’m being overly optimistic here, but I’m seriously thinking that this is as important as blingy stitch markers and fancy needle ends. Personally, I believe it’s up there on the list of must have knitting tool importance right next to calculators and tape measures.
So here’s a picture of my POP display. I’m pretty happy with it so far. I think it needs paint and some lettering or something to jazz it up a bit!
I have also been working on a new website where ABLETS can be ordered by the thousand, Ok by the hundred… or the dozen, ok fine, only get one, and then maybe another to give to your knitting friend for her birthday. knittingabacus.com.
What a learning curve that has been! And to think I went to school for this stuff. My site is built through wordpress, so that’s kinda neat. I’m using a shopping cart theme that seems to work pretty seamlessly with wordpress. They claim you can get your store up and running in under an hour… Or under a weekend, anyway!
Here is another design… “much sparkly” as my little one would say. It looks gorgeous on. I’ve been wearing it all day to test it out, and the beads still tell me that the date is the 2nd. Yep, I use mine to tell me the date when I’m not knitting (rarely), ’cause I’m just that ditsy sometimes.
I’ll try and post pics of my wood beaded ones tomorrow, but I’m taking the kids to the zoo, so I may not have time. We’ll see.
Last night I finished my most recent project: a design for an exhibit in Misouri Sponsored by ImaJewNation.
I love the concept of Hiddur Mitzvah and am completely awed by the fact that something that brings me so much pleasure and satisfaction can also be a way to praise G-d. I often get lost in the process so much so that time loses all meaning. The idea of reinterpreting the traditional inspires me. Silk painting is my newest joy and I am making more tallitot and other silk painted items all the time.
I delight in the idea that a person wraps themselves in my art while they pray. It seems a tremendous honor to have my work used this way. I like the idea of art serving a purpose other than merely decorating a wall (not that I have anything against that, mind you, I have plenty of art on my walls). But something about utilitarian art appeals to the pragmatist in me.
The exhibit, meant to explore “rivalries inherent in the world and how we can mitigate its hurts” was an instant inspiration for me. As is my nature, I focused immediately on the positive aspect: “Tikkun Olam in a Chalah Cover”. If only we could let go of all the ridiculous boundary wars and oil wars and war wars and simply sit together as friends, share bread; accept our differences.
Sometimes an image comes clearly and easily to mind. I immediately pictured hands in a circle of prayer. It reminded me of the tradition of touching the challah while saying the blessing. I wanted to incorporate other meanings, not only acceptance of all nations, but also all creeds, faiths, and lifestyles. So, rather than painting the hands in various skin tones, I chose rainbow colors. The details were inspired by the Indian custom of painting hands with Henna. They are all different to represent the many cultures of the world.
The floral motifs that are so often found in my work are elements that have been with me since childhood. My elementary school textbooks are covered in them. They grew more bold and tropical during my high school years (spent inFlorida). And now, I find that New England has influenced many autumn flavored designs. It is something that flows from me unbidden like much of my work. I let go and let G-d.
This pattern was created by my (at the time) 6 year old daughter. She won several ribbons for it in local fairs.
It is a very simple knitting pattern that any beginner can do and comes out fabulous.
The nice thing about it, is that it is felted and so hides any mistakes in the knitting. It is very satisfying for a brand new knitter to be able to make a project that looks great without “frogging” (ripping out: “rip-it! rip-it!”) every row and knitting them two or three times due to dropped or added stitches. You end up learning right away how to increase and decrease and “fudge” mistakes the way experienced knitters do. Any problems disappear in the felting. How fun to have a project you can use right away that isn’t just a boring old scarf!
Rowan is selling this pattern for $2. through my Ravelry shop. 50% goes to Rowan to support her healthy yarn and beading addiction and 50% to tzedeka (charity).
I have a customer interested in a custom tallis. I just realized that there isn’t an easy place online to see my finished (and sold) works. So, by special request, here is a quick gallery of previous projects.
My very first Tallis. This tallit has 18 butterflies hand drawn and painted adorning a pale peach mottled background. The stripes across the bottom are teal. Still one of my favorites.
I promised the customers (some dear friends of mine) that I would never make another that was exactly like this one. Of course, that isn’t possible anyway, due to the nature of the medium. I could make a similar one, but none identical.
I have since made two other butterfly tallesim in yellow:
Here you see my “Four Matriarchs” tallis. I have made two in blue, one darker and one lighter. Both have sold. I still have the design which can be made in any color range.
I have made several “Birds on a Wire” Taleisim. This is my most popular style. I originally designed it for my own son for his Bar Bitzvah.
Some of these orders have had custom atarot (the band around the collar is called an Atarah). Most have the traditional prayer.
The tree is often used as symbolism in Judaism for Torah and our celebration of life. I was commissioned to make a Tallis for a bat mitzvah who loved this symbolism:
I have even made a “Cow Tallis” for a dear friend of mine who is a cattle farmer.
As you can see, I accept requests for just about anything… although I must draw the line at pigs 😉
All of my talleisim come with a matching or coordinating kippah and bag and can be purchased through my Etsy shop at kippahmitzvah.etsy.com.
If you don’t see what you are interested in, please convo me on Etsy or email me at kippahmitzvah@hotmail. com
I’m starting to get jealous of my Childbirth Education Doll. She’s been published twice now, once in the Regretsy book by April Winchell and now in this book by Lela Nargi entitled Astounding knits. This book has some really cool stuff in it, including a sweater-covered- bus, a 200 foot plush rabbit and a life-sized knitted tree!
This publication is much kinder to her than the last one that covered the childbirth doll. Regretsy was downright snarky, saying “Your kid is going to grow up to hate you”. In contrast, Lela is now my new BFF:
“Really Gives Birth! To Real Crocheted Newborn!”
“There was no sensationalizm intended in the original birthing doll Rhode Island mom Sharon Coleman crocheted out of wool several years ago. ‘I designed it as an educational tool for my then-three-year-old daughter when I was pregnant with her little sister,’ she explains. But Internet responses to the pattern for the doll Coleman now sells on her Etsy shop ran the gamut-from simply surprised to downright disgusted.
The latter response strikes the average mom as sligltly bizarre; after all, what could be more natural than childbirth? And for a crafty mom, what could be more natural than explaining the experience to her child using crochet?”
-from Astounding knits.
The day before valentines day I received an order for a tallis. A delightful customer is buying herself a birthday present! Which, incidentally is only three weeks after mine! I just celebrated my 40th birthday too! I have documented the process below.
Step 1) I start with finalizing any design elements. For this design, that usually only involves the atarah. A tallis traditionally has an “atarah” or “crown” with a Jewish prayer on it. These days many folks chose not to use the more traditional prayer.
This customer has chosen a less traditional but more personally meaningful prayer from The Book of Blessings .
יפתח לבי תזדכך נפשי בהתעטפי בטלית
May my heart be opened, may my spirit become clear, as I envelop myself in the tallit.
It took some time and a couple emails to our Synagogues new part-time Rabbi Susan Elkdosi (congratulations Susan) but she quickly found the Hebrew for me, so I could avoid any typos!
I manipulate the Hebrew on the computer for size and font, then I print it out, tape it together and get to work!
Step 2) I wash the silk with synthrapol to remove any oils or sizing that may be there.
Step 3) Then I iron a piece of freezer paper on each end to stabilize the fabric. I don’t need to stretch the silk for this particular design. Since the pigment goes on very dry, the freezer paper is adequate.
Step 4) Then I tape my template to my workspace and start taping the lines for the wire. I do this in several sessions waiting for the paint to dry between overlapping lines. Sometimes I speed the process along a bit with my trusty hairdryer. This is why anyone in my family who wants to dry their hair has to first go rummaging through my studio! I rarely use it for my hair, which I am content to let nature take care of… probably why it’s always so frizzy!
Step 5) While the lines are drying, I paint the atarah. I know Hebrew is written from right to left, but since I am right handed, I find I save a lot of smudges and re-dos if I paint it in backwards. I tape the computer printout of the prayer under the pre-sewn atarah and use a makeshift light table to see the letters below. The brush I use for this is tiny. It takes a steady hand, so my children are all trained to STAY AWAY from Mommy when she’s painting a Tallis!
Step 6) I paint the birds in the same way. I also paint a couple birds on the bag (shown on the towel in this picture) . I decided to omit the wires on the bag this time. I thought it was a nice touch to just have the birds flying around the bag, waiting to land on the tallis. The paint is navy blue jacquard silk paint. It came out very dark navy. It looks black in these pictures, but really is navy blue!
Step 7) Then I sew the pieces together. This includes the atarah, the tallis bag and the corner pieces. I sew an eyelet hole in the middle of each corner for tying the tsitsit. (The sewing details will be the subject of another post.)
All that’s left to do on this tallis is making the fringe on the bottom, and tying the tsitsit on. This tallis will come with a coordinating wool kippah. Hopefully all will arrive in time for the customer’s birthday.