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 been released! Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited. 

Introducing My New Novel: The Knitting Guild of All Saints

We are all in one big knitting guild. That is the message of my newest novel, The Knitting Guild of All Saints. Whether you knit well or not, knit a lot or only sporadically, you are part of a community of knitters that all share something in common and are woven together by the practice of knitting.

In my first book in this series, The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, we see community formed around the ministry of knitting and gifting prayer shawls. These prayer shawls are made with love, knitted or crocheted to show someone that a community of believers cares about them, prays about them, and surrounds them in love like a big warm blanket. In this novel, unlikely friendships form, and romances are sparked. People both within and on the margins of the fictional All Saints Church are enfolded in the love and prayers of this community of faith. 

In The Knitting Guild of All Saints, the second novel in this series, the community expands far beyond the fictional Episcopal church at the heart of the action. The “Rogue Knitting Guild” formed in the first book takes off as a ministry all its own, with a surprising and highly unlikely new leader. New prayer shawl guilds are formed in churches far way and even poolside in Florida. Familiar characters from Book One find themselves in unlikely new situations. And, of course, an unlikely romance begins between two new characters. 

I hope you enjoy my new novel. I try hard to keep the plot going and the characters interesting and even humorous at times. I hope you join my characters in their new journeys, walking in their shoes for just a bit and seeing the world from their perspectives. Isn’t that what reading is all about?

Many blessings! 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 been released! Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited. 

The Story Behind Every Piece Of Knitting

As I cleaned out a closet today, I found the very first baby blanket I knitted for my son. It’s a small, lacey, baby blue blanket blessed by one of my favorite priests and taken all the way to the Arctic Circle when we adopted our youngest child. It was the first “prayer shawl” I ever made. 

Pulling that blanket out of the closet, I noticed a couple of crooked seams and a section of the blanket that badly needed blocking. But that didn’t matter; it was the story behind that baby blue blanket that mattered more than anything. 

As soon as I had that baby blanket in my hands, the whole story of becoming my youngest son’s mother came back to me: the waiting, the paperwork, the trips to the homeland security office in Nashville to get his citizenship lined up, the cold trip to the Arctic in the middle of winter. I could smell the diesel fuel during a long flight delay in Paris. I could see the faces of the doctors, drivers, and adoption agency staff who shepherded us along the way – all from taking one glance at that baby blanket I had knitted.

Don’t we all have stories woven within almost all of our knitting projects? We remember that Harry Potter scarf knitted for a son when he was in the second grade. That confetti-sparkled hat knitted for a daughter when she was a pre-teen. That hat your husband wanted for his camping trip last fall. 

As I began my book, The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, I realized that we all have rich, often poignant stories behind our knitting projects. When we give our knitting projects as a gift to someone else, it becomes part of their story, too.

What’s on your needles now, and what’s the story you’ll remember months or years from now? I hope your stories will be tales of overcoming the stress and challenges of daily life, woven with the joy you get from knitting.

Blessings, 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

Show Your Knitting Love With A Prayer Patch

Want to show someone some love through your knitting, but you don’t have time to knit an entire blanket or sweater? Try giving your loved one a “prayer patch.” 

A Prayer Patch is a small piece of knitting you give someone to simply show you care about them. Much like a full-blown Prayer Shawl, a Prayer Patch might be given to someone facing surgery, someone grieving a family member, or someone just going through a tough time. You could even give a Prayer Patch to someone simply to let them know you’re thinking about them. 

To make a Prayer Patch, you can use yarn leftover from a favorite project. You might even use a favorite stitch or pattern that’s so stuck in your head you can make it without thinking. You might even attach a small charm to your Prayer Patch, such as an angel, cross, or other symbol meaningful to your spiritual life. (I’ve found it’s easiest to leave a long tail when you cast off, then you have something ready-made for attaching the charm.)

Some churches, I hear, offer Prayer Patches to newcomers or those attending services who need a small token of their faith community’s love and care for them. (Psssst…in my new book, The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a newcomer receives a Prayer Patch. Her life is changed forever, and she learns to knit – not necessarily in that order.)

What do you do with a Prayer Patch? You could tuck it into a purse or backpack. You could use it on your desk as a coaster or under your phone while it charges. It’s so small, you could keep it almost anywhere to remind you that someone loves you. Churches or other faith communities might send it along with a flower delivery or include it with a get-well card. It could even be a miniature version of a Prayer Shawl for the recipient to keep with them on-the-go. 

And for the knitter herself, making a Prayer Patch gives you space and time to be quiet, collect your thoughts, and perhaps remember a loved one in prayer. It’s an easy project, perfect for taking a half hour or so to simply and silently send your hopes and prayers to someone who needs them. 

Here’s a favorite Prayer Patch pattern I’d like to share with you:

The “Diamond of Hope” Prayer Patch

(I used the Caron x Pantone mini-skeins and size 10 needles. You can get two prayer patches out of each of these small skeins. You could use whatever yarn you have handy with appropriate sized needles.)

Cast on 17 Stitches.

Knit one row for a nice border.

Row 1 (Right Side): (P1, K7) x 2, P1

Row 2 (Wrong Side): K2, P5, K3, P5, K2

Row 3: K1, P2, K3, P2, K1, P2, K3, P2, K1

Row 4: P2, K2, P1, K2, P3, K2, P1, K2, P2

Row 5: K3, P3, K5, P3, K3

Row 6: P4, K1, P7, K1, P4

Row 7: Repeat Row 5

Row 8: Repeat Row 4

Row 9: Repeat Row 3

Row 10: Repeat Row 2

Repeat Rows 1-10, then Repeat Row 1 once more

Knit one row for a border.

Bind off. 

Leave a long tail for tying on a symbolic charm, such as an angel, cross or other sign of hope. 

This is easier than it looks! Once you get the pattern in your head, you can do it in your sleep. You’re always moving out from a point or in towards a point. 

The pattern makes one large diamond with 4 smaller diamonds inside it and 8 triangles around it, for a total of 12 spaces on the piece. (Twelve apostles total, with 4 writers of the Gospels, if you’re into symbolism.)

Blessings on your Prayer Patches, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a book of related short stories in which prayer shawls end up in unlikely places, friendships are made through knitting, and people in need receive unexpected gifts. Available in e-book and paperback and included in Kindle Unlimited

Knit Generously – Knitting for Charity

I was in a fabric shop recently when I heard a woman at the cutting counter say this to the clerk: “I want something as cheap as possible. It’s just for charity.”

My immediate reaction was “ugghhhh.” In one respect, I get it. You have your own bills to pay, but you still want to donate your crafting skills to a good cause. You may need to spend as little as possible to make a gift for someone else. But it’s all in the tone of voice, and I had the distinct impression that this woman thought those on the receiving end of her charity crafting didn’t quite deserve anything but the cheapest, lowest quality materials for her project.

It all goes back to the purpose and intention of a gift. Do we go cheap and give as little as possible, even if we could afford much more and much better? Or do we give the best we can afford, thinking about what those receiving our gifts will appreciate?

This is not to say that inexpensive yarns can’t make great charity gifts. I’ve knitted numerous hats, scarves, and prayer shawls using clearance sale yarn or even remnants from other projects. But each of these items were gifts I could be proud to share and present to someone, anyone. I’ve knitted little hats for kids in an orphanage in a cold place, so they could go outside wearing cute, cheerful knitwear that might help them feel good about themselves and let them know that someone, somewhere, cares about them. I’ve knitted prayer shawls for cancer patients and nursing home patients in bright colors to cheer them up and help lighten their emotional burdens. 

My rule of thumb for all of these projects: knit generously. Make a knitted project someone else would truly love to receive and wear. Use yarn you’d use in making something for yourself or a loved one. Because when we knit for charity, we knit for someone who needs to be loved. That homeless person receiving the hat, that nursing home patient receiving a shawl might not have anyone else but you to knit for them and show them someone cares.

Blessings, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of the newly published book The Prayer Shawl Chronicles. The story “Hats for Orphans” in this book is based on her experience in knitting hats for children in Arkhangelsk, Russia.  Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited