Thursday, 8 August 2013

Calling all knitters! Prayer Shawls for Residential School Survivors

At the Truth and Reconciliation National Event in Vancouver Sept 18 - 21, Residential School survivors who give their testimonies will be offered prayer shawls as a gift from the churches.  These shawls have been a very powerful and important symbol of reconciliation at past events particularly because of the importance of blankets and "blanketing" in West Coast traditional ceremony. Knitting a prayer shawl is a concrete way to be involved in the work of reconciliation. Here's a pattern - experienced knitters say that it takes them about a month of casual knitting and we need several hundred shawls so please begin right away. Bring completed shawls to your parish office for centralized pick-up later. 

Things You'll Need

Needles in a size appropriate for your yarn


  1. Choose a soft, yet relatively bulky yarn when knitting prayer shawls. Keep care in mind. Many prayer shawls will be used for warmth and comfort in medical situations, so easy laundering is helpful. Use a needle size that yields a fabric with a nice drape.

  2. Cast on stitches in a multiple of 3. Choose the total number of stitches based on the final width desired. If you're using a bulky weight yarn, 57 stitches will work well. Add additional stitches for a lighter weight yarn.

Choose between several pattern options. The most traditional choice for a prayer shawl is a knit 3, purl 3 pattern to the end or row on every row. On the wrong side rows, you will be knitting the purls and purling the knit stitches. You can also opt for a knit 3, purl 3 rib pattern, a knit 3, purl 3 moss stitch pattern or work the entire shawl in seed stitch if you prefer. The number three has spiritual significance in many faiths and works well as a repeating, easily memorized pattern.

  4. Work to the desired length( 60 inches or 1 1/2 metres) and bind off loosely. Keep healing thoughts, prayers or blessings in mind as you work each stitch of the knit shawl. Be sure to add in yarn as needed mid-row to avoid visible ends on the edges of your hand knit prayer shawl. The prayer shawl should be long enough to wrap snugly and warmly around the shoulders.

Cut lengths of yarn to around 6 inches to make fringe. Use a simple slip knot to attach fringe to the ends of your prayer shawl. Add beads to the fringe if desired.

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