Jun 3, 2008

K is for...

Kippah. A Kippah, also known as a yarmulke, is a head covering worn by Jewish men and occasionally women. This K has a lot of meaning for me, not for religious reasons but for family ones because kippot are also a connection to the generations that came before. In this case, K is the start of a really big project too.

It's customary for the family celebrating an event to provide kippot for the attendees. Usually they are satin or leather although I recently saw some nifty eco-friendly ones made of recycled materials. Since they have the relevant names and dates printed on the inside, they make nice remembreances of the event. These kippot were made by my grandmother, Shirley. The burgundy and silver were for my Bat Mitzvah, the teal and gold were for my sister's and the black with white and green accents were for my brother's Bar Mitzvah.(My kippah collection is missing so I thank my brother and sister for these pictures)

H & J KippotMicah Kippah

My grandmother also made these kippot in hunter green and white for my wedding. I'm not sure how many she made for the earlier events but I know that she made 80 for my wedding because I have her notes. You can see the index card sticking out from under the kippah and it shows her running tally of the amount finished. On the other side of the card are her notes on the pattern and the yarn she was using.

DSC_1113These notes were part of my grandmother's cache of knitting and crochet supplies that I inherited about 11 years ago. I was thrilled to get them even though I had no clue how to knit or crochet at the time. I dreamed of continuing the tradition but it was years before I picked up her needles. Needles - not hooks. The knitting came first.

DSC_0137Over the next few years, I grew to love knitting although my experience with crochet remained limited to edgings. My dad watched me knit and we often discussed my grandmother's influence and I knew that my dad loved that I was carrying on her legacy. As time went on we talked a lot about the kippot and how I wanted to use her tools and pattern to carry on the tradition. My dad loved that and really encouraged me. He had long since stopped practicing any religion but those kippot were a big deal for him.

This brings us to the present and for the past seven months I've been trying to develop the necessary skills and decipher the pattern so that I could carry out an ambitious plan. I want to make all of the kippot for my daughter's upcoming Bat Mitzvah. There, I said it. Now I'm really committed. OMG, what am I getting myself into?

DSC_1111I started by learning to crochet because I couldn't find a knit version of my grandmother's pattern. Believe me I tried to figure out how to knit them up but the open star was a problem. I watched videos on the internet and read many versions of the instructions. It wasn't pretty. I also consulted Linda Hurt at Springwater Fiber Workshop because there were stitches I couldn't figure out at all. My grandmother used terms that I couldn't find on the internet but with Linda's help I figured it all out.

Then came the yarn. As if making a large number of items using an unfamiliar technique wasn't challenging enough - I decided to dye the yarn myself. You may recognize my first attempt - the blue and white yarn above. I showed it to you months ago when I thought it would be the one I used for this project. It's a wool/silk winding and I loved the look of it. I tried it out with the pattern and after 2 test kippot (seen above) I realized that it just wasn't right. The yarn didn't have the right drape and the results were thick and stiff. Because I know nothing about crochet I spent the next few months agonizing over a better choice.

DSC_0856I finally settled on silk because if you're going to attempt a crazy project that's way beyond you - why not go for broke? I contacted Diane at Woven Gems and she was really helpful. She sent me samples and I tested them out and in the end I guessed. I ordered up a bunch of yarn and hoped for the best. At left you can see the result. I dyed up 2/3 of it and left the rest natural. I used a few different shades of blue Cushings dye and got a yarn that is softly variegated with colors that go from nearly navy blue to a sky blue with occasional shots of aqua. These pictures show the first two kippot in the sun so that you can see the silk's lustre and on a dark background so that you can see the colors. It's a good thing that I love this yarn so much because it'll be my constant companion for the next few months. My goal is 80 so I've got a lot of crochet ahead of me. Thankfully my mom had agreed to sew in all of the labels. I think that might send me right over the edge.

DSC_1093DSC_1112

For anyone who read this whole, long, post, I thank you. It really means a lot to me.

19 comments:

jess said...

thank you for sharing -- I really loved reading this. I think your kippot look great! :)

sprite said...

What a lovely homage to your grandmother and a tremendous legacy for your daughter. The kippot are beautiful, and I'm sure they'll be treasured by everyone who attends the event.

Mama-E said...

that is so very, very sweet. Family traditions and honoring your grandmother at your daughter's Bat Mitzvah will truly bring so much more meaning to the ceremony for you all.

Please post pictures... and see if you can get a line in the service program that lets all the attendees know that the kippahs are a tribute to Shirley!
(my son's bubby is Shirley too!)

Cursing Mama said...

Its pretty amazing, you named this blog as a tribute and now this! Its a wonderful K and I bet it is also something that will become a spectacular family tradition. Good Luck!

Sarah-potterknitter said...

What a wonderful idea, and an ambitious one! Good luck, and can't wait to see the progress

Carole Knits said...

I'd been seeing your pictures go up on flickr so I figured you had started. You've done a good job and starting early will give you plenty of time. Make a schedule and stick to it and you'll be just fine!

Margene said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful heritage and legacy.

Howie said...

that was really neat!

All the thoughts of my mother/your grandmother felt good (though if I recall, bubbe also helped on the "kippah factory")

They look lovely and I look forward to seeing them in person.

Uncle Howie

Les said...

I have my "original" one, and it was knit! I am not sure if it dates back as far as my Bar Mitzvah, but I know it is better than 40 years old.

Uncle Les

Sarah said...

This is such a wonderful journey, and I love that you are sharing it with us.

Carol said...

What a great tradition you've carried all this way. They're lovely.

sopranospinner said...

They are truly lovely and what a wonderful ambition! I'm sure your grandmother would be very proud of you.

Ronni said...

Wow that is a big job! But what a wonderful thing to do and a great way to keep a family tradition alive. I think they look lovely.

knitfriendly said...

What a great post! The color you choose is beautiful. Good job in picking out yarn you love - 80 is quite ambitious!

Ruth said...

You're very smart to begin now. I have friends who knit kippot for the various bar/bat mitzvot, and they waited until a couple of months before the event. Bad, painful idea.

Your kippot are lovely.

Julie said...

Wow, what a tribute to your grandmother! And your daughter - she will always remember how much of yourself you put into this project for her. You are an incredible woman!

You do realize that now you have to teach the daughters how to crochet so they can continue the tradition :-)

Dawn said...

Fabulous Hillary! I love when people share stories of crafting heritage and are inspired to forge a physical connection with their past by trying something new. Cherish every stitch.

Ellen Bloom said...

The kippot are beautiful. The colors, magnificent! Now, I want to make some for our family Seder next year!

Liz said...

I love your blue and white kippot! I made kippot for my daughter's Bat Mitzvah, son's Bar Mitzvah and stepdaughter's wedding (I'll never use metallic thread again!) Can you share the pattern? I'd love to see your grandmother's knitting notes to see if I could help you figure them out. Mine were all crocheted and I think I've only seen knitted ones once. Best of luck!