What are prayer shawls and the Prayer Shawl Ministry?
Since my fabric art adventures began with knitting prayer shawls, I thought it appropriate to dedicate my first post to the Prayer Shawl Ministry. The Prayer Shawl Ministry was established in 1998 by Janet Severi Bristol and Victoria Galo as a result of their experience in a program of applied Feminist Spirituality at the 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. They combined compassion and the love of knitting/crocheting into “prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Many blessings are prayed into every stitch.”
Essentially, as one creates a shawl, the creator says prayers for the receiver of the shawl, thereby infusing the shawl with blessings. My understanding is that there is no wrong way or right way to do this, but generally…
…the shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. ~The Prayer Shawl Ministry
Although there are instructions and guidelines, the shawls can really be made in any color(s), in any size or to any length, and can be offered for endless reasons, such as, medical issues, marriage ceremonies, new babies, bereavement, etc… Additionally, prayer shawl creation is not limited to hand knitting, many shawls are crocheted, quilted, woven, and machine knitted. The point is to weave prayers and blessings into the fabric as the shawl is created to give grace and comfort to the receiver. However, if you would like to get started creating prayer shawls and need some instruction, you can find the Original Prayer Shawl Instructions at the Prayer Shawl Ministry website (or simply click on the provided link). Finding patterns for prayer shawls is as easy as searching the internet for prayer shawls, prayer shawl patterns, prayer shawl patterns for beginners, etc… but to make things super easy for you, I have provided a few pattern links below to get you started.
Lion Brand Yarn –You will have to sign up for free to view these patterns, however, once you do, you can search their site for prayer shawls and find other patterns you might be interested in.
So far I have only been able to find one free shawl pattern, at foldi, that clearly states that it is machine knit . The shawl is not described as a prayer shawl, but remember, what truly makes a prayer shawl, in my opinion, is the blessings bound into the fabric as it is created. So, honestly, I don’t see why this couldn’t be created as a prayer shawl.
Please feel free to leave some links in the comment section below if you have found any patterns that others might enjoy.
Since its inception, prayer shawl ministry groups have spread world-wide supplying shawls that have wrapped thousands with solace and good wishes. I am honored to have started my journey into the fabric arts in the prayer shawl ministry at my church, Sumner United Methodist Church, in Sumner, Washington.
In my upcoming posts, I will delve into the “symbolism” in prayer shawls, such as color meanings and the significance of three. I will also share some common prayers, including the ones I use when making a shawl, and post pictures of some of the shawls I have created. Thanks for joining me!
Until next time… Happy Crafting!