When a client asked me to weave a prayer shawl for his friend’s birthday, I said, without thinking much about it, yes. After all, I have woven a number of shawls so how could this one be too different? At least, that was my first thought. Before starting the project I decided to go online and investigate prayer shawls worn by men practicing the Jewish faith. Thus, began the challenge and my learning experience.
The shawl is called a tallit and consists of two main parts, the shawl itself and tzitzit which are fringes on the four corners. I began to worry that there might be specific requirements for the size, type of material, color arrangement, etc. and wondered whether or not this was a job for me. Before becoming totally despaired, I remembered having met a rabbi who also had some experience weaving, so I gave him a call. He graciously spent the better part of an afternoon educating me about the tallit and assuring that I could do the job or at least the weaving part of it. If the tzitzit presented a problem he would be there to help me. What a wonderful person!
The only clue I had about the person for whom the shawl was being made was that he liked blue. How wide or how long would have to be my best guess. The weave structure was also a challenge. I wanted it to be something other than a plain weave without being too fussy. And, my client asked if I could incorporate the Star of David into it. OK, by now I’m a wreck, worried the finished product would be less than perfect.
I won’t bore you with all the details involved in the design and weaving process; I’ll just show you the finished product. If any of you are weavers and want the draft, I’ll be only too happy to share with you. Looking closely, you can see that the points of the Star of David are not real well defined due to the size of the threads and how closely they are packed together. However, the client thought it satisfactory. I am going to work on this just in case I am ever asked to do the same again.
I loved doing this job not only because of the challenge but because I learned something new and made a new friend. In return for his help, the rabbi wants to work with me to improve his weaving and design skills. To that, I say GLADLY!
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