Laurie Kimmelstiel has been fascinated by all kinds of fiber craft since she was a teenager.
She took her first weaving course in NYC after graduate school and was “hooked.” She then decided to combine her love of Jewish life and culture with her love of weaving and made her first tallit for her husband.
Laurie is now designing, weaving and selling gorgeous tallitot. She works with each client individually to create something truly special and unique.
Laurie and I spoke a few weeks ago.
What prompted you to make a tallit for your husband?
There is a tradition that a bride gives her groom a tallit as a wedding gift. I had not done this when we married, and I had always hoped to weave him one. I believe I’ve already woven four tallitot for him to date.
When did you begin designing and selling tallitot?
After making my husband’s tallit, friends from my synagogue and my children’s Jewish Day School started commissioning me to weave one for themselves and for their children’s Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I’ve lost count how many I’ve woven thus far, but suffice it to say I’ve woven several hundred and each one is a labor of love.
Tell me about your process.
Each tallit takes me approximately 50 hours to complete. This includes meeting with clients to discuss design and an explanation of the meaning of the tallit and its ritual uses to setting up the loom, weaving, finishing, and tying the tzitziot, or ritual cords, at the four corners.
What inspires you?
A love of Jewish tradition, and I take inspiration from my clients as I get to know them and have conversations with them as we begin the design process.
Where is your studio?
My studio is in my home, White Plains, New York (a suburb north of New York City).
For more information and to contact Laurie, check out her website, White Ridge Crafts.