Diana Drew Grayson’s Engaging New Tome, ‘Jewish Threads,’
Spins Yarns about Jewish Fabric Crafts
A poignant peace/shalom art quilt and an apples & honey challah cover, both handmade by Donna Gross, and handmade Purim puppets by Lesley Frost are among the extraordinary projects showcased in a new book exploring the world of Jewish fabric crafts and the inspiration behind this imaginative work. Called “Jewish Threads: A Hands-On Guide to Stitching Spiritual Intention into Jewish Fabric Crafts” (Jewish Lights Publishing), the 288-page book presents 30 fabric craft projects, created by talented artisans from throughout the United States and Israel.
Compiled and written by our co-president, Diana Drew (Grayson), with her husband, Robert Grayson, “Jewish Threads” delves into the backstory of each of the pieces spotlighted in the book—how and why they were made and what sparked the idea for each one. The book itself was inspired by our gorgeous quilted chuppah.
Copies of “Jewish Threads” will be sold as a fund-raiser for our Section at both our Paid-up Membership Meeting on Nov. 13, at 11 a.m., at Lesley Frost’s home and at a special “Jewish Threads” Book-signing & Latke Exchange Saturday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m., at the home of Karen Secular .
Diana spent a year and a half sifting through a myriad of projects from throughout the United States and Israel, choosing those that reflected deep-rooted connections to Jewish heritage and contemporary Jewish life. Each project had to have a compelling story behind its creation, and fit in with the overall concept of the book as both a volume of stories about artisans’ spiritual intention in making these crafts and a how-to book for novices as well as more experienced needlecrafters.
“Jewish Threads” is designed to motivate readers to fashion some of the traditional ritual items as well as more contemporary pieces included in the book--individually or in groups--by offering easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions at the end of each of the stories about the fabric artists and their spiritual intention. Most of the projects are relatively simple, and make wonderful gifts.
Some of the crafts presented in “Jewish Threads,” such as challah covers like Donna Gross’s, have roots in Jewish tradition, while others, including Lesley Frost’s Purim puppets and a knit seder plate for Passover, play off centuries of tradition, while incorporating a contemporary spin. Among the fabric craft techniques represented in “Jewish Threads” are quilting, needlepoint, knitting, crochet, felting, embroidery, appliqué, needle felting, and counted cross-stitch.
Says Diana, “ ‘Jewish Threads’ brings together the disparate threads of my own life--Judaism and Jewish observance, sewing and knitting, writing and editing--while stitching together the inspiring stories of fabric artists from throughout the United States and Israel. Collectively, these personal stories, and the projects that spring from them, form a patchwork of modern-day Jewish life. The part openings, written by my husband Robert, place these crafts in historical perspective, with tales from the Jewish tradition that give these fabric crafts added resonance today.”