Making do in an Imperfect World

In a perfect world, people won't need to promote themselves. Work will arrive at your doorstep because people value what you do.
One of the guests at Deborah's kid's bat mitzvah fell in love with the kippot I had made for Deborah and her daughter. She wanted to know if I also make tallitot. I was happy to tell her that indeed I do make tallitot.
She continued that her son's bar mitzvah was in June, would I be willing to work with him? Indeed, I would. Then she asked if I ever worked with old fabrics, she had a weaving from Tibet that she had hoped might be worked into the tallit. I explained how I loved working with old schmattas and it all sounded good to me.
Josh and his mom met with me on Sunday evening. Although I was dying to see the fabric, I asked that we not look at it until after we had looked at the texts about tzitzit together. I find that learning about the sources of tallit and some of the history means that my clients are on the same page I am on when we begin designing. I love beautiful things but a tallit is simply pretty and is created devoid of meaning is a little like the blonds of the world of jokes.
Looking at text together also gives me a bit of an opportunity to get to know the bar mitzvah kid. It gives the kid an opportunity to size me up as well. After we looked at the texts, it was time for me to see the fabric. it was an Ikat dyed silk panel in  mostly reds and purples with a band of what looks like Guatemalan weaving sewn onto one of the long ends. The piece is just a great example of old peasant weaving. There are imperfections in the weaving and slightly crude sewing and it is simply beautiful. Josh's mom also brought a Cambodian reverse applique belt. I have seen lots of Hmong applique work. I had never seen such a refined example. The Hmong belt will be the atara on the tallit.

Josh, clearly a boy with taste, was so excited at the possibility of owning a tallit made out of this cloth that when his mother suggested it he was unable to sleep for the excitement.  I had Josh try on the silk. It was too short to be a tallit on it's own. The piece reached from his neck to the tops of his thighs in back. And from his neck to his elbows going east-west. We would have to play with it a bit to make it work as a tallit.
The length in back allowed us to make a smallish flip over the shoulders tallit.  I get irritated by tallitot that are completely striped. no this isn't a legal issue, but rather a matter of personal taste.
If I  divided the striped silk, we could add a length of silk between the two striped sections and the whole thing could read as a traditional enough tallit, despite being made out of not quite traditional materials.
We went through my silk sample book from  I like Super Silk. They  have a limited selection of standard silks. Their prices are always fair. Because they are local, delivery is fast. Once, I got a shipment the day I ordered it. I know, it isn't something you can expect  but I guess I placed my order just as the UPS guy was about to leave that day.
Josh his mom and I looked at a variety of silk shantungs. We kept choosing brownish reds that all looked very similar, the way that Bobbie Brown lipsticks are all infinite variations of that same brownish red. I told Josh and his mom that I would figure out the exact shade on my own.
I called the folks at Super Silk the next day to place my order. I also ordered some additional silks for the "Not Mets" tallit and for a couple of other pieces. I could have just ordered  using the website, but I really needed to talk about the specifics of the shades I needed  before I made my purchases. I needed a red crossdyed with black. I kept thinking of it as a beefy red.
Annie from Super Silk and I spent lots of time discussing nuances of color for the right red, orange, blue and white. We had settled  on the silks I needed.
A few  hours later, Annie called. They were nearly out of the red silk. All they had was 7/8ths of a yard. Funnily enough, that was exactly how much I needed.  I was reluctant to order less than a yard, many vendors don't allow you to buy fractional yardage. I was delighted that the little they had left was exactly what I needed. I also had to make adjustments on a few of the other silks I had ordered. I am used to living in an imperfect word and can usually make adjustments.
I can't wait until Josh's red silk arrives. Josh too was excited. His mom said he was up all Sunday night excited about what his finished tallit will look like.


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