Book review: Jewish Threads

Even though I’m not Jewish, I love Jewish Threads: A Hands-On Guide to Stitching Spiritual Intention into Jewish Fabric Crafts by Diana Drew with Robert Grayson. The book includes instructions for 30 needlework projects–beautiful, practical, meaningful objects for the Jewish home or place of worship. So why does that interest me?

Because the book is much more than a collection of projects. Each item was designed and created by a different artist. Each tutorial is accompanied by a brief story sharing the designer’s background and the personal meaning of the piece. There is much to learn, here, about tradition, mindfulness, and valuing our ethnicity.

In her introduction, Diana Drew says,

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 pastiche of modern-day Jewish life. The part openings, written by my husband, Robert Grayson, place these crafts in historical perspective, with tales from the Jewish tradition that give these fabric crafts added resonance today.

Beyond this storytelling, Jewish Threads presents an array of fabric craft projects made with varied needlecraft techniques–quilting, knitting, needlepoint, crochet, embroidery, counted cross-stitch, even felting. Taken together, these stories and their accompanying projects can serve as a catalyst for your imagination, a way for you to translate your own passion for Judaism into beautiful works of handmade fabric art. Both an inspirational book and a craft-making book, Jewish Threads draws together the diverse threads of Jewish life and Jewish observance as expressed through Jewish fabric crafts.

I would go farther. I would say that this book will be meaningful and useful regardless of your heritage or ethnicity if you are excited by learning from and borrowing ideas from others’ traditions. The book is inexpensively produced–the photos are in black and white, for example. So if you pick up a copy of this book, don’t expect eye candy. But do expect a rewarding addition to your needlework library. The book retails for US$19.99. ISBN 978-1-58023-442-9.

You could win a copy of this lovely book from CraftGossip! The publisher, Jewish Lights Publishing, provided a copy for our review and we’re passing it along to one lucky reader. Go to the giveaway post to enter the draw.