Friday, September 25, 2009
Months ago, I was intrigued by a beautiful knitted blanket that I saw on Etsy with a Chanukah and hebrew letters on it. I am trying to learn as much as I can about the ancient Jewish feasts and their symbolism, so I was drawn to this beautiful blanket. The maker of this blanket and its pattern is Sandra of A Cache of Jewels. Sandra is a very interesting person who has been a business woman all of her life.
Tell us about your connection with Judaica.
I was brought up in a combination of Orthodox and Conservative Jewish home. I used to go to shul with my Grandmother for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Women would sit upstairs and my Uncle was in the all men’s choir. The sounds of the Cantor, Rabbi and the choir... looking at the breathtaking stained glass windows in a wonderful old building was a very important part of growing up Jewish.
I was the only child of my generation in my family, being born at the beginning of the “Baby Boom” and was fortunate enough to know all of my great aunts, uncles, cousins and even had my great grandparents and grandparents for a very long time. Yiddish was always spoken and a kosher kitchen always had the most wonderful smells and flavors of traditional foods coming from them. It was a way of life for them and a very large part of who I have become as an adult.
I also have a cousin who is a Rabbi in Israel and is the news director for Chabad.org. He’s following in the footsteps of one of my grandfather’s who was also a Rabbi.
Now, I am the Membership Maven for Team EtsyChai. A few of us, as original members, recently restarted it. The timing was perfect, corresponding with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I’m very sure that this will be L’Shana Tova!
When did you learn, to knit and who taught you?
I have knitted since I was a small child, having learned from my mother. I always was designing my own patterns (both for knitting and sewing), but never bothered to write them down. Now I do and am sharing them with everyone else. I especially want to focus on my Judaica work which is what got me though my recent, prolonged illness... one stitch at a time.
How did illusion knitting become part of your design style?
The name of my shop, A Cache Of Jewels, came from being a Ballroom and Latin-American competitive dancer and making the costumes and jewelry with Swarovski crystal stones. I love glamour and glitz.
I inherited this love from both of my grandmothers. My grandmother Esther (nicknamed Cookie – who my dog is named for) collected costume jewelry and music boxes, while traveling around the world by steamship.
The other was my Grandmother, Reba, who owned one of the most prestigious and largest Bridal Shops in New Jersey. She started it long before I was born and was in business well into my 20's. I worked for her all through my growing up, learning to sew by hand and machine and to do fashion bead embroidery on the wedding gowns from her seamstresses. I then worked in the NYC Garment district’s Bridal market for some of the manufacturers, learning a lot!
One of the things I found important was the history of fashion around the world. I went to F.I.T. and was exposed to beautiful textiles. One was Illusion style weaving of fine silk from Japan. It would create a hologram type effect that was mesmerizing. I found out about Illusion Knitting (which is also known as Shadow Knitting) and the rest is history.
Who is your favorite person in history and why?
I don’t know if I have just one person. There are many I admire for a variety of reasons. Most of them are women, but this is not sexist, but because they were all strong, insightful and well ahead of their time.
Beginning a long way back in biblical history: Ruth, Cleopatra, artist Mary Cassat, fashion designer Coco Chanel, dancer Isadora Duncan, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir , Politician Bella Abzug, and fashion columnist, editor and museum curator Diana Vreeland, just to name a few.
Where do you see your shop in five years?
I would hope to have entire collection of patterns, both in Illusion style as well as my Embossed style of which my Concentric Squares Baby Blanket is one – both in Judaica as well enlarging my line of dog items. I also plan to get back to doing my pave’ stonework jewelry. I love working with Swarovski crystal jewel-stones. I have some of my past pieces on my web site, but have not put any in my shop yet.
If there is anything you would like to add that wasn't covered in the questions, just add it at the end
I have been a self-employed artist and craftswoman for most of my life. I enjoy the creative process and never know what I'm going to come up with next. I also was a dealer of antique and vintage costume jewelry and will be offering some of those items also - as I am closing that portion of my business to concentrate on my own work.
Sandra's special love is for her English Springer Spaniel, Cookie. Cookie taught herself to aid Sandra when she came home from the hospital from a very serious illness. This is her inspiration for the great dog wear in her shop. What a great dog cookie must be! She loves good whodunits, and you will love this: She was the original designer for the Village People.
To see Sandra's shop, click on the title "Etsy Knitters and Crocheters on Parade".