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