The Five Stages of Project(ing)

As Shavuos came and went, I realized with a jolt that I have a wedding to attend – a wedding which is now this week.

That makes it sound rather like a punishment, doesn’t it? In fact, I am thrilled for my dear friend and I can’t wait to celebrate with her. But weddings mean gifts and in order to give a gift you must first have it in your possession, which means you must go to a store and buy a gift, or order one online, or make one.

My hermit-like tendencies overpowered me. I ordered half my gift online and made the other half with things I had at hand, rather than, you know, going outside.

Lest you think, Internet, that on the occasion of my friend’s wedding I’ll be giving her macaroni art, let me explain myself. This is a story of what happens when, as I so often do, I plan beyond my abilities.

Perusing the registry, I spotted an item I liked: a nice set of bread knives, a practical gift, one that gets a lot of use in a Jewish home. Then the crafty part of my brain – which, it has to be said, is the smallest and least-developed of all the parts – began scheming. “You know what would be a nice companion to those knives?” my Crafty Side said to the rest of me. “A challah cover. You could make one. You’ve done embroidery before.”

Thus, I undertook my latest Project. Whenever I take on a Project, I go through five predictable but unfortunate stages: first, a short burst of Enthusiastic Planning, followed by a longer stint of Debilitating Laziness and then a deep valley of Doubting My Abilities. (This doubt is usually not unfounded.) Then, some external force (most often a time crunch) comes along to propel me out of this valley and up a steep incline of Mindless and Furious Activity, after which I engage in a satisfying, thoroughly unproductive period of Staring At My Finished Work. (Incidentally, I have only just discovered that I go through these same phases when writing a blog post – especially the last phase, which repeats itself every few sentences. This is how writing a 500-word essay about my own life comes to take several hours.)

The careful reader will have noted that during only one of these stages am I actually doing anything toward accomplishing my goal. This is why a full month passed between conception of the handmade-challah-cover-as-wedding-gift idea and commencement of the actual cutting and stitching.

Of course, once I began in earnest, I felt a bit silly (as I always do) for all the hand-wringing that transpired during Stages Two and Three, since it took less than 24 hours to complete all the embroidery, which is by far the most time-consuming part.

First, I carefully wrote out the words I wanted to embroider onto the fabric.

This took at least two hours - and I had to get help with the saf.

Next, I traced the letters onto the fabric and stitched over the tracings.

I wouldn't recommend using a chain stitch for letters this size - it wound up looking a little smooshed.

The words, in their chain-stitch box, were looking a little plain, so I traced some vines onto the back of the fabric and embroidered those with a simple running stitch.

Messy, technically incorrect back...

...but a relatively neat front. Look, vines!

Now, friends, I might sound like an embroidery expert with my fancy jargon – running stitch, chain stitch, fabric, tracing, all those technical terms – but don’t be deceived: I actually learned all of this yesterday on

I made something!

Next time, it'd be good to learn how to keep it from wrinkling.

All that remains is to attach the backing – but that’s a project for tomorrow. For now, I’m quite content to sit here, staring at my mediocre labor of love, one hand on the keyboard and the other traveling steadily back and forth between a bowl of blueberries and my mouth.


Hebrew and Yiddish words can be found in the Glossary.


One comment on “The Five Stages of Project(ing)

  1. […] HomeAboutGlossary for Your honor Orthodox Jew + Midwestern Christian = BFF « The Five Stages of Project(ing) […]

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