| Windows |

A Stitch in Time

I begged Allan to exit the highway and retrace our steps. This is not as easy a feat as it seems

I met my husband for the first time in an office building in Manhattan. I’d gone to apply for a summer camp job and soon found myself lost among the many long, winding hallways within the organization’s offices.

Suddenly, a tall, handsome man appeared before me, wearing an impressive-looking, long, dark, rubberized, printer’s apron. I asked where to find my interviewer, and he directed me to my destination. I’m certain that if not for the printer’s apron, I would never have remembered the encounter.

He felt a stronger connection. Much later he revealed to me that when we met, he had a premonition that he’d end up marrying me.

And so he did. After he proposed, I began debating what kind of gift I could give my betrothed; one that would express my creativity, would bring him joy, and serve as a constant reminder of how much I cared for him.

I decided that a handmade tallis bag would fit all the criteria. I’d attempted many handiwork projects in the past, and my closet was filled with many unfinished creations. I was determined that this time, things would turn out differently. I dreamed of presenting my chassan with a beautiful and unique gift, something worthy of him.

This goal became a great deal more involved than I could’ve ever imagined. First, I needed to pick a design. This was a much more involved process back in the pre-internet and Pinterest days of yore. I chose a theme close to our hearts; a Jerusalem-like skyline.

I drew the design on a piece of canvas and brought it with me to a crafts shop to pick out the threads. Somehow the canvas disappeared from my bag; either I’d dropped it, or someone had slipped it out of my tote, but it was gone.

Undaunted, I bought a new piece of canvas and redesigned my artwork. I purchased a book of unusual crewel stitchery, a set of needles, and that most ingenious invention, the little wire needle threader, and began my work. I had completed about 25% of the project when my fiancé, Allan, and I left to work in the Pennsylvanian summer camp where our story together had begun the previous summer.

The canvas was on the dashboard of the car when a sudden wind whisked it out of the window and into the mile-high weeds on the side of the highway. I begged Allan to exit the highway and retrace our steps. This is not as easy a feat as it seems.

It was hard to know exactly where to start our search. But Allan never backs down from a challenge, and a few minutes later I found myself forging my way through weeds that competed with trees for height and were certainly taller than I was. Just about 30 seconds before despair set in, I found my crafts bag.

I worked on the project constantly that summer, using any free moment to work toward its completion. One day, I hung it on hooks outside the dining hall and went in for lunch. The youngest group of campers was assigned to clean that porch that day, and in their zest to prove their worth, threw my bag into the huge dumpsters.

That frightful idea would never have occurred to me, but as I searched the porch for my artwork, an eager child proudly told me how they had climbed on benches to remove all bags from the hooks and then thrown everything into the rubbish heap.

I hesitated for an instant before diving into that smelly mess, but then dive I did, and sifted through smelly rotten food waste and garbage until I found my bag. I was able to clean the stains that marred my project and proceeded to work on it.

After all those trials and mishaps I finally, finally finished the embroidering. I blocked the work, sewed it onto a piece of brown velvet fabric, and managed to stitch in the zipper in quite a professional manner, if I do say so myself.

I was really excited about the completion of this project and waited for just the right moment to present it to my chassan. I decided that it would be the perfect gift for the yichud room.

Four days before our wedding, my car was stolen. I’d filled the trunk (well, my parents’ trunk, it was, after all, their car) with all my shower gifts, all my textbooks, and over $400 of groceries and household items that I’d purchased for our new home.

On the way to our Brooklyn apartment I made one stop. A cosmetician promised to make me a soap that guaranteed perfect skin if I would use it for three days before my wedding. I didn’t know if this soap was a wedding gift or a sales item, so I decided to leave my purse in the trunk of the car. If she was expecting to sell me the soap, I planned to apologize and explain that I had no money with me. Apparently, someone spied the treasure trove of goodies in my trunk and decided to steal my car.

Six weeks later the police found the abandoned vehicle. The robbers had entirely cleaned out the car. The only item remaining in the trunk was… the tallis bag! The thief apparently even had use for the one and only kippah that I’ve ever crocheted, the one meant for Allan to wear under the chuppah.

I can only hope that at some point he repented from his life of crime and was able to put the kippah to good use. But I guess that the tallis bag was out of his realm of possibilities, and he left that behind in the otherwise empty trunk.

I was very relieved to relinquish responsibility for the tallis bag to its rightful owner. Thank God, Allan had no negative experiences with the tallis bag; the opposite is true. They shared a daily connection, in good health, for over 25 years. Allan received endless compliments on his beautiful gift and only stopped using it when the threads began to wear thin.

I’ve always dreamed of re-blocking and framing the needlework but have yet to bring that dream to fruition. I dare say, I’m still afraid to touch it!


(Originally Featured in Family First, Issue 671)

Oops! We could not locate your form.

Tagged: Windows