Tying tzitzit

It took a while, actually a long while to get this tallit completed. It also took a while for Jean's schedule to coordinate with mine so she could come tie her tzitzit. Yesterday was the day Jean would see her completed tallit for the first time. I loved her tallit. I thought it was great. I had worked hard to listen to all of Jean's spoken and unspoken desires for this tallit. Never the less, i am always a bit anxious when a client sees a piece completed for the first time. What If my instincts are off? What if Jean hates the tallit?

When jean walked in to my dining room and saw her tallit on my dressmaking form she said, "I'm stunned". It took me a few moments to figure out if this was bad stunned or good stunned. She was good stunned. 

Next it was time for Jean to tie her tzitzit. Jean is a worrier. I assured her that even if she totally messed up no children or cute little animals would be hurt. I showed her how one of the great things about tzitzit is that if you make a mistake, all you have to do is untie the result and try again.

Most of my clients are the descendants of Ashkenazi famlies. I automatically have them tie tzitzit inthe Ashkenazi pattern of 7-8-11-13 wraps of thread between the five knots. Jean's father was of Ashkenazi background but her mother's family was Sephardic who use the following tie pattern 10-5-6-5 which spells out God's name. 

After a bit of thinking the matter through Jean decided to follow the tradition of her mother's family.

 As Jean worked she became more and more comfortable making all of the ties and knots.
I wasn't surprised. I have yet to work with a client who I couldn't teach to tie tzitzit, not just in the regular way when you just wrap the long strand around the bundle of threads, but the more beautiful way where each wrap is a half hitch knot, which creates a spiral that works it's way around the tzitzit.

As Jean worked we talked, about our lives, about working together creating this tallit, about how different and better this tallit is than the one Jean had in her head when we began talking about working together.

When I work with someone they live in my head during the whole process of creating something. It was been such a pleasure to spend this time with Jean.


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