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View Full Version : DH requests a prayer shawl (tallis)


knittingdoula
06-05-2006, 02:18 PM
Hi all -

My husband has expressed a desire for me to create a Jewish prayer shawl, called a tallis. From a design standpoint, I'm finding it a huge challenge.

It should be lace, I think, without being too "lacy" for a man, and the dimensions are quite large. Judging by a google search, it will be around 48" X 68" (around the size he wears now). My husband needs enough to drape over his shoulders, hang down his back and pull over his head. He's 5'4, thank God. :roflhard:

I've tried searching without much luck. Does anyone here have any thoughts on the matter? This is an example of a typical tallis:

http://www.judaica-mall.com/tallit-20061.htm

He just thought it might be nice to pray in something made by me. I feel like it's the Mission Impossible of knitting requests, by I'm completely intrigued by the challenge. I was thinking of using a really gorgeous lace weight or fingering weight alpaca or wool. Since it's used everyday, it should be decently hardy, though he may just use it for the Sabbath.

Anyone?

Thanks so much,
Alison

Ingrid
06-05-2006, 03:46 PM
That's a wonderful idea. I think I'd get my hands on a book of lace patterns, find one I think is appropriate and then work it to the size you need. If you pick a pattern that's not too complicated, it could go pretty quickly.

rebecca
06-05-2006, 03:59 PM
I agree with Ingy, you could customize an absolutely stunning shawl :D

Shandeh
06-05-2006, 04:34 PM
What a wonderful idea! Your husband must really love you to want to share his prayer life with you in such a complete way. That's precious.

Shandeh
06-05-2006, 04:44 PM
Here is a website that might help. It has some knitting and crochet patterns:
http://www.sandralynne.com/gallery/judaicrafts.html#patterns

And here is a discussion on another forum about knitting a tallit:
http://www.knittersreview.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=24664

If you scroll down this page, you'll see where someone has been knitting a tallit:
http://www.rosiesyarncellar.com/knittingcircle.htm?http://www.rosiesyarncellar.com/kc/knittingcirclemain.htm?http://www.rosiesyarncellar.com/kc/ourneedleslisa.htm

Here's a site about a group of women who knit tallits:
http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060302/LIFE/603020309/1086

JennyLeah
06-06-2006, 12:46 AM
:thinking: Knitting a tallis is a wonderful idea. I was thinking about knitting a kippah for my brother for Chanukah this year, but now I'm thinking so far into the future to children I don't have yet getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah! Oy!

All in all, though, a tallis is a very simple project - just kind of huge. It needs four corners, and fringe and should be made of wool, linen, cotton, or silk (although some don't approve of silk). Really, your options are as out there as you'd like to go... If you want to do a not-so-lacy lace, then it's as simple as finding a lace pattern you like and going for it. More of a concern, I would think, would be properly knotting the tzitzit (fringe) and somehow attaching (embroidery, perhaps?) the prayer around the collar - although I've never been totally clear on whether the prayer actually has to be on the shawl? I actually don't think there's anything in halacha about that... just that it should be worn the same way every time it's worn. My religious education is a bit rusty, though, so maybe I'm wrong.

I really look forward to seeing your end result. Good luck. :thumbsup:

knittingdoula
06-06-2006, 01:40 AM
All in all, though, a tallis is a very simple project - just kind of huge. It needs four corners, and fringe and should be made of wool, linen, cotton, or silk (although some don't approve of silk).

Though NOT a mixture of wool and linen, which is a violation of the commandment not to mix the two in a single garment. (It's called shatnes.) Here;s a yarn I'm considering: http://blueskyalpacas.com/yarn_detail.php?yarns_ID=11

It's incredibly soft. It's also $40 a skein. *gulp*

Really, your options are as out there as you'd like to go... If you want to do a not-so-lacy lace, then it's as simple as finding a lace pattern you like and going for it. More of a concern, I would think, would be properly knotting the tzitzit (fringe) and somehow attaching (embroidery, perhaps?) the prayer around the collar - although I've never been totally clear on whether the prayer actually has to be on the shawl? I actually don't think there's anything in halacha about that... just that it should be worn the same way every time it's worn. My religious education is a bit rusty, though, so maybe I'm wrong.

Attaching the tzitzis isn't too horrible. Aryeh Kaplan has a book which outlines how to do this, and I can always call my Rav (rabbi) for guidance on tying them and ordering them through a reliable source.

As far as the prayer goes, I think I can just order it from a needle shop or even a wholesaler. I was interested in the color and bead charts that had Hebrew on it. It would be cool to duplicate stitch Ani Dodi V'Dodi Li into a part of it, assuming it's halachically ok. That phrase means, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."

I really look forward to seeing your end result. Good luck. :thumbsup:

Don't go holding your breath. :) I'm still in the design process with this thing. Oy. Double oy.

Alison

Kirochka
06-06-2006, 08:19 AM
Oh no... I'd better not let my father see this thread! :rollseyes: (Not that he'd be anywhere near this website...) I only started knitting in January and a few months later rashly announced to my father that I'd make him a yarmulke... but I did actually do it, and while it was a tad messy, it was recognizably a yarmulke. I'm not ready for a tallis, that's for sure! But I hope you'll keep us up to date on your progress with it, Alison! I can't wait to see how it goes.

Ellen Edwards
06-06-2006, 09:17 AM
I think it's lovely for him to ask you, and even more lovely for you to want to do it!! As for the Royal Alpaca--it's way above my personal ambition (moneywise, I mean), but you could see how far a skein would go , after you find your pattern, that is. I know you will have great success in it though--after all--it's a prayer shawl. It could very well become a family heirloom--so knit well, Alison, and good luck!! :thumbsup:

cookworm
06-06-2006, 09:52 AM
Alison, would a worsted weight yarn do, even if you decided to go with something a little bit lacy? If you decided to make him a tallis with a little bit of a lacey pattern though, I'm not so sure a worsted weight yarn would work (as you mentioned, fingering or lace weight would probably work best). The reason I ask about worsted weight yarn is because I've used Paton's Classic Merino Wool for a couple of projects and feel it's pretty economical for a 100% wool; it has a nice drape to it (I used stockinette and seed stitches on a blanket for my daughter using a size 9 needle I think...it has a gorgeous drape without being too airy.) Would this be something that you might consider knitting on the bigger side, then felting? I'm sorry...I don't know much about tallis, only that as knittingdoula mentioned, there can't be a mixture of fibers, and I know there has to be fringe and I've seen them with stripes. The link you included seems to show that there are prayers embroidered on the tallis as well. I was just so intrigued by your post that your husband would ask you to make something so meaningful for him, and would appreciate it--how AWESOME! And how beautiful for you to make it for him! I was making my husband a "prayer blanket" where I knitted him a blanket and prayed over every stitch for our anniversary (he's been having a hard year), and he was pretty unenthusiastic about it. :( I felt like the "knitting-a-sweater-for-your-boyfriend curse" was on me!

JennyLeah
06-06-2006, 11:30 AM
It would be cool to duplicate stitch Ani Dodi V'Dodi Li into a part of it, assuming it's halachically ok.

To the best of my knowledge (and I'll admit to doing a little bit of research on this before I decided to say anything, so I'm about... 85% sure of myself), the atarah (crown, or collar) has no religious significance. So while it's traditional to use the barucha that one says when dressing in the tallit, all that really matters about it is that it tells the wearer which side is up and goes against the neck.

With no specific halacha regarding it, I think any text from Shir ha-Shirim (Ani l'dodi would probably be the popular favourite, but it is a wonderful book with a lot to choose from) would be a beautiful and appropriate sentiment.

Don't go holding your breath. :D I'm still in the design process with this thing.
You'd be amazed at my capacity to both hold and support my breath. :rofling:

Shandeh
06-06-2006, 01:42 PM
I was making my husband a "prayer blanket" where I knitted him a blanket and prayed over every stitch for our anniversary (he's been having a hard year), and he was pretty unenthusiastic about it. :( I felt like the "knitting-a-sweater-for-your-boyfriend curse" was on me!

Bless your heart! I'm sure he'll appreciate it one day. Hang in there. Men can sometimes be very thoughtless, and then one day they surprise you with a very tender and touching moment.

cookworm
06-06-2006, 02:54 PM
Thanks Carolina Red! I just wish sometimes that men were more like women in that they'd share things once in a while with us...well, all the men in my life are pretty tight-lipped. It's frustrating! :doh: