Crossing the Wooly Divide

donnahartEncouragementLeave a Comment

I am a decided fibernista. I hate to shop except for one thing: yarn. I love yarn stores, I love the textures and the colors of the fibers, but most of all, I love to knit. The other thing that gets me very excited is seeing someone have a vision to serve a person to God’s greater glory.

I recently read about Sol Israeli, the owner of Soul Wool. He camouflages himself before dropping off roving and picking up spun yarn. It takes a whole day for him to drive from his studio in Karmiel, Israel, to the war-torn Palestinian West Bank. He places a kaffiyeh on his head (Arab headcovering for men) and a prayer rug on the dashboard of his truck before he crosses the border to go searching for the nomadic Bedouin women from whom he buys raw wool. After hand-dying the yarn, Sol sells it to stores in Israel and the U.S.

Before establishing his yarn business, Sol endured a series of traumatic events. The scars and the healing periods that followed created in Sol a heart of care and mercy. The first happened while he was fulfilling his mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces: a helicopter crash killed 54 soldiers in his unit. The second happened in Lebanon when his brother-in-law was killed and Sol injured when they stepped on a land mine.

After his tour of duty in the army, Sol worked as a safari guide in Egypt’s Sinai region, wandering the desert with eco-tourists. The sands of the desert soothed him. Along the way he met and befriended some Bedouin women, and watched as they worked from morning until night doing most everything. Between all of their work, the women were spinning wool, while their husbands drank and told stories.

Sol observed the vast division of the independent well-to-do women tourists in contrast to the Bedouin women who worked tirelessly while their husbands sat around the campfire. His heart of mercy prompted him to wonder how he could help these women. His dream was to connect the world of the wealthy tourists to the Bedouin women.

He saw that the Bedouin women spun rough fibers from sheep and goats. He thought if he could provide them with high-quality fibers, they could create a product modern women would want.

Sol learned to dye yarn from a chemist at a natural-pigment company. He choose the colors and bases mixing cashmere, silk, organic cotton and other fibers according to his mood of the day, often highlighting the colors of the desert and Israel’s vibrant landscape. He has two Israeli women designers working with him on knitted garments, three developmentally disabled young men helping him in the studio, and severely disabled students from a Waldorf school doing tasks such as labeling.

The Bedouin women he works with are nomadic, but he finds them in summer and winter. When he picks up yarn, he brings clothing and toys, and the women dress up and bake pita bread as a celebration. Being income earners elevates them to “queen of the house.” Sol is seeing a difference in how the husbands now treat their wives, and His heart is warmed to know that he has made a difference in their lives.

The trials and suffering Sol experienced opened his eyes to the suffering of others, filled him with a desire to care for them, and gave him a vision for their greater good.

Do you have eyes to see the suffering in others? Can God give you a vision to help them?
There is no greater joy than to serve another to God’s glory. I have some cases of yarn and 15 children in Nepal who need hats, mittens, scarves, and blankets. Do you want to come knit with me?

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