Monthly Archives: May 2013

first stitch

Q: How important is the position of the first stitch?

The project has been designed so that when the panels are assembled the areas of text will align and form columns as they do in a Torah scroll. We need several rows of canvas at the top and sides for seams.
Alongside the text there are 7 squares reserved for a border – actually 2 open squares + up to 5 for the border design – if the stitcher wishes to do that. There will be much more information on that option in later posts.


Q: What are those “blobs” on the printed design?

A: They indicate places where the width of some letters has been adjusted in order to align both edges of the text, and so should more accurately be called “stretch marks”.
A sofer is allowed to extend or contract 7 specific letters (as indicated by the turquoise squares on your printout) to justify the margins.
In the first line of the example shown, there was no need to adjust any letters; in the second line several letters have been extended in varying lengths.

Treat each square of a “blob” as a regular cross-stitch.

Rona, Rocky and Lili

Rona, Rocky and Lili

It was a busy day in the studio as stitchers came by to get their kits, ask questions, learn and practise skills, examine a real Torah scroll, and meet other participants.

back side of stitching

Q: Can I carry the thread from one word to the next?

A: Yes, if the distance is less than 2 cm/.75 in. Leave a bit of slack in the thread.
Like a busy day with lots of errands, try to map out a route for your stitching path that has as few back-tracks as possible.

Temma Gentles, artist-in-residence at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, introduced the Torah Stitch By Stitch project at the leil (night-long study sessions) on Erev Shavuot (Pentacost).  Taking place 50 days after Passover and Easter, this holiday celebrates the giving of the Torah on Sinai.

“This is the perfect time to begin honouring those sacred words,” says Gentles.  “Although very few of the participants in the project will be trained scribes, it gives all of us the opportunity to fulfill the final commandment, which is to write a Torah scroll.”

After a couple of hours at Holy Blossom, the introduction continued at the Miles Nadal JCC, which will be co-sponsoring a launch party on June 20, 7:00-9:00 PM. along with Makom: Creative Downtown Judaism.

So . . . you have your kit and you are staring at it with some trepidation or hesitating to begin stitching.

Please let me help you get started.

On Tuesday May 28 feel free to come to my studio at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto  any time between 11AM and 7PM.  Bring your kit.  If you can’t make it on May 28, request a time slot on another day, and I’ll try to accommodate you.

Despite the slightly rocky shore at the beginning, we will wade right in and you will swim away feeling very comfortable.  Please allow yourself 30-60 minutes for the workshop.

For those of you who are not in Toronto, let’s arrange a consultation via Skype.

Of course, those who do not want or need help are hopefully swimming along with a strong and even stroke!