I’ve made several Jewish Tallits using Annie Modesitt’s pattern from the New Prayer Shawl Companion. But I wanted to take the design further to include Christian symbolism – motivated by the urge to create something with ancient orthodox significance.
Numbers and planning are not a strength, but I had just acquired Hitomi Shida’s Japanese knitting Stitch Bible translated into English. What a find! No longer were those exotic online patterns locked in mysterious hieroglyphics. A quick trawl soon provided the border
Off I went, greedily translating the chart into stitches, then motored happily up the striped section to reach the tricky bit. Working the tree of life alongside the trinity ridge panels pushed my brain beyond limits, but I hung in there. About to start the back neck section, it dawned on me that plan A was horribly flawed. Why? Because both border and tree of life would only work from the bottom up! That’s why a wiser person plans in detail from the start!
I cast off, made another the same then (after more head strife with numbers) made a back section knitted towards the neck. To my surprise it joined perfectly: the atorah (sewn-on neck piece) brought it together and the tzitzits (tassels) gave a satisfying finish.
After being admired and prayed over by our Shalom prayer group, it was folded and placed in a drawer.
A few weeks ago it showed up again during a major turn out. Hmmm ……. time to find it a home, but nobody came to mind. Next day, a catholic friend asked if he could possibly commission a Jewish Tallit with Christian symbolism – to include the cross. Photos were sent and its destination sealed. This was his response:
‘Thank you so much for the wonderful prayer shawl that you have made with your own hand and given to me. It is a beautiful piece of work. It also has a very spiritual feeling about it. I love the Hebrew writing from the opening words of the Shema: ‘Hear O Israel’. I’m just amazed. This cannot be a coincidence! I will use it every time I pray at home.’
So we are doubly blessed: my friend by his deep appreciation of the covenant roots of our ancient faith, and me through affirmation of this ministry once again – overseen by St Benedict, who tells us to ‘listen with the ear of the heart’.
NB: Jesus referenced the Shema in response to a scribe who asked: ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12: 28-31