Knit A Prayer Shawl For Yourself – Take Care of Your Own Soul

A couple weeks ago, while taking a class at a local yarn shop, I spotted some blush pink, wool yarn with tiny black flecks spun into it. The yarn spoke to me – the soft pink reminded me of early springtime here in Southern Appalachia, with the soft pinks of cherry trees soon making their appearance. The black flecks reminded me of the black ashes I would soon have traced in the shape of a cross on my forehead for Ash Wednesday. 

After hearing a call to personal growth during the Ash Wednesday service last week, I decided to make a prayer shawl just for me with this pink and black flecked yarn. I had made numerous prayer shawls for others this past year, but I reminded myself that my soul needed attention, too. Those of us active in our churches tend to find ourselves very busy ministering to other people. We serve as greeters and lectors, pack up Christmas gifts for the homeless, attend committee meetings and generally lend a listening ear or a warm hug to those in need in our communities. Lent is a time not to forget all those tasks, but to remember that you need to work on yourself, too. 

My personal prayer shawl, like those I make for others, uses a simple pattern I don’t have to think about. I’m using a triple moss stitch – 3 knits, 3 purls, repeat – so that I can both zone out of day-to-day life but still stay alert enough to think and focus on my spiritual issues. We all need a fairly simple pattern for our lives, I think. We need structure and a pattern that doesn’t overwhelm us, one that keeps us from veering into chaos. But we need to keep ourselves alert and at least a little challenged as well. 

This Lent, as I sit quietly knitting my pale pink prayer shawl, speckled with the black ashes of Lent, I think about how far I’ve come since becoming widowed 2 years ago. I also think about the challenges and personal growth I still need to work on. Like the progress on my personal prayer shawl, I’ve made much progress, and I’m developing into a recognizable shape. But I’ve still got a good bit of work in front of me. With God’s help, each day this Lenten season, I’ll spend a few minutes each day in quiet knitting and prayer.  I’ll work on the fabric of my life, watching it grow and stretch into something complete and whole, one stitch at a time. 

With Blessings for a Holy Lent, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, interrelated stories about knitters and those for whom they knit and love. The sequel to this book, The Knitting Guild of All Saints, has just been released! Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited. 

Holiday Survival Plan: De-stress and Zone Out Through Knitting

Are you stressed? I am. It’s that time of the year!

Yesterday, I found myself so stressed that I was shaking. As I tried to do some tedious graphics work as a volunteer project for my church, a neighbor repeatedly blew up my phone complaining about the non-functioning car in my driveway. (Because, ya know, the sight of a car on jack stands in somebody else’s driveway on the other side of a neighborhood is soooo offensive and definitely a reason to spew out a string of complaints towards the nice, quiet writer who never bothers a soul, right????) Was this person stressed out himself and taking it out on me? Probably. I’d bet many of us are dealing with other people’s stress, along with our own, about right now.

What to do? Take a deep breath…and knit! Friends, we have an important tool in our box of tricks to deal with holiday stress, end-of-year deadlines, preparations to welcome incoming family, our own travel plans, and even unhinged people deflecting their own stress onto us. We have our knitting projects, and in moments, we can pick up those needles and take ourselves away from anything that bothers us.

That’s exactly what I did yesterday. Realizing that my stress level had climbed sky high, I plopped myself down in my favorite knitting chair, picked up a simple sock project, and simply knit a couple of rows. My heart rate immediately dropped. I convinced myself that no, the whole world wasn’t conspiring against me. It would be okay. 

So use those tools in your personal de-stressing kit, my fellow knitters. Sit down, pick up whatever project is on your needles, and knit one row. Maybe knit two rows. Knit for ten minutes, or two hours. Whatever you need.  You’ll feel better, I promise. 

We’ve all heard the reports of how knitting is good for you, how calming knitting can be. For knitters, the solution to dealing with any stressful situation is as close as our knitting baskets.

Prayers for a Peaceful Holiday Season, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, interrelated stories about knitters and those for whom they knit and love. The sequel to this book, The Knitting Guild of All Saints, has just been released! Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited. 

Knitting in a Time of Mass Upheaval: Remembering Madame Defarge

One of my favorite books is A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. In this novel, set during the turmoil of the French Revolution, my favorite scenes are those of Madame Defarge, sitting and knitting while all hell breaks out around her. Yes, she’s one of the villains, and yes she’s knitting the names of those on the revolutionaries’ death list into her work. But the whole idea of sitting and knitting in the midst of chaos has always spoken to me.

Here we are again. For those of us of a certain age, we’ve seen this film. We know this plot: evil dictator reigns down terror on innocent population. This time, we see it in real time on TV. Things will change and change quickly in coming days. So it’s time for self care (again). It’s time to just sit still and knit.

Knitting allows you to put worry aside, focus simply on the movement of your hands, and truly live in the moment. All you need to think about, just for a few moments, is whether you need to be knitting or purling at this specific second of your life. You might get a sweater or scarf out of it, but what it really gets you is a state of peace and calm amongst the madness of a world in turmoil.

Maybe you, like Madame Defarge, are knitting while you watch major world events unfold around you. Maybe, like Madame Defarge, you’re keeping score and thinking where you’d like to put one of those knitting needles. Or maybe you’re just knitting for a few minutes to find a little bit of peace, trying to get through the day without freaking out.

In any case, do take up those knitting needles and take a few minutes to breathe. Take a few minutes to calm down.

With prayers for peace, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. 

Copyright 2022 Cynthia Coe

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