Clinical Placement Coordinator Heather Kriss, of the WSU College of Nursing – Tri-Cities, is one of nearly 1,500 volunteers globally who took part in a project to create a cross-stitch tapestry of the Torah.

WSU College of Nursing staff member Heather Kriss read a small article in 2013 about a global art project to create the Jewish holy texts of the Torah in cross-stitch.

She didn’t know how to cross-stitch. But she decided to take part in the Torah Stitch By Stitch project anyway.

“The Torah is extremely meaningful as a Jew in how we navigate and interpret life,” said Kriss, clinical placement coordinator at the College of Nursing in the Tri-Cities. “For me it was a really active way to engage with the Torah.”

She got a book to teach herself the art of counted cross-stitch and became one of the nearly 1,500 volunteers who took part in the project. Volunteers came from 28 countries around the world; Kriss believes she’s the only person in the Tri-Cities who participated.

The result is a 300-foot tapestry, one of the largest in the world. Because of space considerations, about half of it is on exhibit at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, through Nov. 17. Kriss’s two panels made it into the display.

Volunteers paid $18 per panel and received instructions and supplies to create a 14-by-14-inch canvas. They had six months to complete the panel.

Kriss said she took every bit of that time.

“I had to pull out quite a few rows because I miscounted or the back of my panel just looked horrible and I was embarrassed,” she said. “It took me some real work to teach myself how to do that.”

Part of the exhibit at the Textile Museum of Canada. Photo courtesy of Torah Stitch by Stitch.

By the time she was done, she’d taught herself how to stitch well enough to add an optional visual element to one of her panels – in her case, a pomegranate.

She’s hoping to go to Toronto before the exhibit is over to see her panels on display.

But she’s done cross-stitching, she said.

“I found it very meditative, but I think it’s a one and done. I did it mainly for the project and the meaning of the project, and to be involved in it.”

–Story by Addy Hatch