Challenge Met!

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.

The weave structure for the body of the shawl turned out fine, just enough to give the cloth a textural interest.

I had enough warp left on the loom to weave cloth for a pouch in which to put the tallit.  This was that little something extra.

Together they make a very special gift.

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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18 thoughts on “Challenge Met!

  1. I just came across this – what a lovely shawl. I would like to make a similar one for my son. Would you still happen to have the draft?

    1. Rebecca, I can’t get to my studio at the moment as I’m laid up following Achilles surgery. Looking at the shawl it is woven on an 8 point twill threading, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 repeat. That works for the Star of David and I found this on the web so that should get you there:
      Happy weaving!

  2. Hello, your tallit is very beautiful, I am interested in the draft you used. I have a similar situation and am in need of guidance.

    1. Jannine, I am away from my studio right now, but I will be happy to share the threading/treadling. Please don’t let me forget.

      1. Oh that would be so wonderful – thank you for your help and kindness!!

  3. This is lovely! I would really like to have the draft. I am a new weaver, but I would love to weave a tallit. Thanks so much!

  4. Oh my, your weaving is extraordinary. I am in awe. I keep going back and looking at the pictures. I’ve always wanted a loom (along with a blow torch, saws, piano, and a potting bench – this I finally got). But I don’t have room for one. I admire your pattern. It’s intricate and delicate and so fine. What a lovely gift.

    1. Marlis, you can always start out small….go for it!

  5. How neat, Linda! It is beautiful and meaningful. I’m glad you put yourself into the creation so—–both you and the recipient benefited! I am going to send this to a friend who could probably get you some business if you are interested in making more. Are you?
    Good going!

  6. Beautiful, Linda. We attended a birthday party for a very devout Jewish man recently and I wish I had thought of such a thoughtful gift.

  7. I think you did a great job on the shawl. The design is very pretty. That is a worthy cause and some of the ladies around here do that.

  8. You know I’m a detail fanatic.. so no surprise that I love this! The piece of the pattern that delight me most are the little diamond patterns and the zigzag of pale white/cream bits. It’s excellent that it also provided you with a challenge that will probably lead you into other new and exciting patterns that you never dreamt of attempting before.
    I’m not surprised that the client was happy with the result: a hand crafted piece of high quality work that surely has “heirloom” written all over it… who in their right mind wouldn’t be delighted!?

  9. what a beautiful creation!

  10. That is beautiful! Very unique yet totally in keeping with the tradition. You’ve created something that the owner will cherish for the rest of his life. And then maybe his children and grandchildren will cherish it…

    1. Ilana, I never thought about this being an heirloom, but I very much like thinking of that possibility.

  11. How beautiful!

    Happy Blue Monday!

  12. This is beautiful. Some of the ladies at our church crochet shawls and pray over them to give to people who are struggling with health issues. I received one and cherish it. When I am having a rough day I wrap up in it to read. Blessings, Debbie

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