In a status posting yesterday on one of the numerous social utilities, I mentioned that I was tying tzitzit. (no, not tzadiki!) I actually was tying them for a friend, and they looked so pretty and new I just had to take a pic. After one wears them for a while, they start to look a little...well, let's just say tired.
Here's a little more information for the curious:
The two sets of stands are knotted together twice, and then the shamash (a longer blue strand) is wound around the remaining seven strands a number of times. The two sets are then knotted again twice. This procedure is repeated three times, such that there are a total of five knots, the four intervening spaces being taken up by windings numbering 7-8-11-13, respectively. Furthermore, the 39 windings is found to be significant in that it is the gematria (numerical equivalent) of the words: "The Lord is One" Deuteronomy 6:4). (There are other ways of tying, but this is the way we have adopted in our community and the way I was trained.)
Tekhelet (תכלת) is color dye which the Bible commands to use for one, more or all of the fringes on tzitzit. At some point in Jewish history, the source of the dye was lost and since then, Jews have worn plain white tzitzyot without any dyes. Tekhelet, which appears 48 times in the Tanakh (the Old Testament) - translated by the Septuagint as iakinthinos (Greek: ὑακίνθινος, blue) - is a specific blue dye produced from a creature referred to as a chilazon, other blue dyes being unacceptable.
Where tekhelet is used, only one thread in each fringe is dyed with it, the rest being left white or self-coloured. The dyed thread is always made of wool, regardless of the material of the garment or the other threads.
The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,
"Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.
It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot,
so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God."
~Numbers 15:37 ff
And, now you know.