Getting through the boring stuff
Some elements of making a tallit ( or doing anything) are just plain fun. Other elements are about as exciting as watching paint dry. The other day I had to cut the silk for Maya’s tallit. Generally, when you gut a piece of fabric from selvedge to selvedge, the easiest and most accurate way to cut is to make a little cut at the selvedge and then just rip the fabric. It makes a great satisfying sound. You also end up with a perfectly straight edge. I learned this from a cranky very old chain smoking saleswoman in a fabric store that no longer exists on 39th street.
The old saleswoman had a really contentious relationship with the owner of the store who she probably remembered from the time he was in diapers. The two used to have screaming fights regularly as you shopped for fabric. they were both quile lovely on their own. They had a screaming fight each time I went in there. I’m not quite sure why it didn’t bother me enough to stay away, but it felt like you were walking into some ancient family dynamic.
Anyway, one of the first times I bought fabric there, the old sales woman nipped the fabric I had chosen, gave me one side of the nipped fabric to hold and with her cigarette tucked into the corner of her mouth growled at me, “Rip it honey!”. It took me a moment and some clarification by hand motion to understand what she she expected me to do. I dutifully ripped the fabric and I learned a new skill.
This unfortunately does not work for cutting fabric parallel to the selvedge. That is a much more painstaking process. You cut a nip and then pull a thread so you know where to cut and cut along the line left by the pulled thread. if you are cutting a fabric woven with thick yarns it easy. if you are cutting a silk made out of fine fine fibers it’s slow going. you pull an inch or two cut and begin again.
It takes a while, but eventually the task is complete.