Stories and Inspirations
Several years ago my son Matthew was killed in a car accident. After the accident something happened to me....I started to collect yarn.
I've been knitting since I was about 9 and then an aunt taught me to crochet when I was about 17. I've loved doing both ever since.....over 40 years now.
We've always lived in generous sized homes so it wasn't until we moved last July that I was forced to round up my herd of yarn and get it all together.
Oh boy, was I in for a shock. I had no idea just how much yarn I'd accumulated since Matt's accident. We moved to a much smaller home and
there just isn't enough room for all the yarn so recently I posted it on our local Freecycle site. I was overwhelmed with the amount of woman
who asked for some of it to be used in their prayer shawl groups. I'd never heard of these groups until now and woman that I've met so far
have been the nicest woman you'd ever want to know. I want to thank you both for the part that you've unknowingly played in helping me to
clear out my stash. Emotionally, I had to know that the yarn was going to be put to good use or I never would have been able to part with it.
It's taken me the past week just to sort it all out and bag it but it's turned out to be a labour of love that I am thoroughly enjoying.
Thank-you and blessings to you two dear ladies. Lyn C. - Ayr, Ontario, Canada - December 2012
"Janet and Vicky: I have composed this letter in my head so often yet words continue to fail me.
I started making prayer shawls in October, 2003. I had just moved my mother to an apartment and
while moving her I found a dresser drawer full of washcloths I had made. Every Christmas I would take a
couple hundred washcloths to my mothers side of the family. All my aunts and cousins would take them.
After I found my mother's stash I wondered if they really needed them or if they were just being nice!
The very next day I received a copy of a magazine I had never received before (or after). In it was an
article about the Prayer Shawl ministry. I went on-line and got your K3 P3 pattern, bought my first skeins
of yarn and made a shawl. It took me about 4 1/2 hours to make one. I wasn't sure I could stick with something
that took that long to make as I was used to making washcloths in 45 minutes! But I was desperate to find
something to knit other than washcloths.
Due to my weird way of knitting making items that require a gauge is difficult - I knit taller stitches than most people and
have to adjust patterns so things fit and it is always hit and miss with that! Knitting squares and rectangles works
every time! I went back for more yarn and made up some for my aunts for Christmas (as well as other family members). Before I knew
it I had a dozen made. I just kept knitting - initially thinking I would make 50 or so. I didn't think I knew more people
than that and wasn't sure what I would do with them.
As I was making them the words "unconditional love" kept coming to me and I realized I was to learn about love through
this ministry. I was to make them and let them go with no expectations of anything coming back to me. I also had to get over
my perfectionism hangups and not worry if they went to a "real knitter" that would judge my work.
Shortly after Christmas I started a group at the church I was going to at the time. We had a group of over 20 knitters in a short
time making shawls. We all started knitting during church services and more kept joining. The first year we gave over 400 shawls away
(this in a church of 120 members).
I started holding workshops for other churches in our area and helped get four other groups going. The more I knitted them, the faster I got.
I can now make one in about 3 1/2 hours! Over the last 9 years I have had several "distributors" - people that love to give them out.
Chaplains, Counselors, preachers, group leaders, etc. I have provided 145 to Cozette for the PS4FS program.
This week I made my 2,000 shawl!
I struggle to find the words to thank you for starting this ministry. Making shawls has changed my life! I have learned
about love through making and giving shawls - the more I give the more I get back - especially when I give without
expectations of anything being returned.
Shawls fit every occasion - happy or sad and everything in between! They are
the perfect gift! I can't count the number of people that after they receive one for themselves call me to see if they
can have another one because they have a friend that really needs one. Many times the person who was given one just
had to give their's to someone else and then they find they miss their own and call to see if they can get it replaced.
I have met people that otherwise I would never have met. Several have become really good friends.
I have become an energy healer - graduating last year from a three year program at Core Star Energy Healing School
in Kansas City. I started that program because of the number of people that said they could feel the love in the shawls
they were given and I wanted to find out how that happened! I had a hospital chaplain tell me that she used the shawls
I gave her for her really hard cases - she would try all the tricks in her book to calm an anxious patient or family member and
when nothing else worked she would put one of my shawls around them. She said the shawls never failed to help her be able
to calm the patient down and they would be able to breathe again!
I hold both of you in much love and light and with much gratitude for all you have done to change my life!"
My daughter Katie was born on August 31 of this year (2011). At the time of her birth we learned quite quickly she had a
heart condition that required a heart transplant. We were so fortunate that Katie was the recipient of a donor heart at 3 1/2 weeks of age.
Even thinking about it now it seems unbelievable that we've been through this experience.
She is home now and fully recovered from her surgery and is doing quite well.
I'm writing to you because my friends Paul and Beau attend the St. Nicholas United Methodist Church.
At one of the services they asked for the members to pray for her recovery. Today they presented me with a prayer shawl they received from one of the members.
I want to thank you and your community for all your prayers. With all the friends and family and people we have never met thinking of us we know that has made Katie's recovery that much better.
Katie continues to amaze us with her strength. I've included a picture. I want to pass on our gratitude. It has been felt by us for sure. Eric J.
I was in the hospital, recuperating from emergency surgery to remove scar tissue from an earlier operation.
It was the day after Thanksgiving, and everyone I knew seemed to be out of town.
My college-age daughter was in and out, but she had a paper to write and final exams to study for.
The church office was closed, as was my workplace. No one was there to retrieve
the voice mail messages my daughter had left. Although I didn't feel like having visitors,
I wished someone would call to check on me. A prayer shawl would have been a wonderful comfort
as I lay in my hospital bed. At the time, I had never heard of prayer shawls and
I didn't know how to knit. That came several years later. Now, I am privileged to be a part of my
church's new prayer shawl ministry. As I knit, I pray that whoever receives the shawl will feel
less alone; whether they are hospitalized, ill at home, or bereaved. Lynn A.
My journey in life is taking me many places, most are by choice, but some I would not have chosen to go.
As I face this difficult part of that road I am on, help me to look to the positive each day. Let me recognize the blessings
that fall into my path and help me to turn the "bad to the good". Raise me up every day to find the faith I have in you and
point me into the direction of hope
I will look at this gift of a shawl- with the yarns all intermingled and crossed over - and have it remind me of the people who have crossed
my life's pattern. I will remember that this shawl was once a ball of yarn with no definite shape, and it was taken to a new level
with someone creatively making a magnificent mantle of it to drape around my soul and embrace me. I know it is filled with love and prayers for me.
As I go through the ups and downs that fall before me on this journey, I know I am not alone. I know God; it is you who is
walking besides me and holding me up when I don't have the ability to do it for myself. You are my greatest resource on
this path called Life. Help me to become refreshed with every sunrise and to look to the future with great hope at each sunset.
I believe this journey will take me where you want me to go and I will count my many blessings often. Thank you.
Composed by Wendy Paffenroth-2011
First Presbyterian Church, Goshen NY – Prayer Shawl Ministry
In August 2005, my husband and I survived a tornado in Stoughton, Wisconsin. Our home did not. The first weeks passed in a blur of activity made so much easier by the people who came and stood with us, and dug through what was left, looking for anything that could be saved, and there wasn't a whole lot! I am a knitter, and some of the first gifts that came to me were knitting needles and yarn, as people knew I never go anywhere without a knitting bag on my arm. Before Christmas that year, a lovely lady named Janet presented me with a beautiful shawl she had knit for me, and included a note in the box about the ministry. It is a beautiful gift made more precious knowing that she prayed for me as she knit it. I have a young grand-daughter who loves to curl up on the couch and wrap it around herself, the only stipulation being she has to treat it lovingly and put it back where she found it. What a great ministry! Annette Klingaman
About a little over a year ago, I decided to crochet a prayer shawl for a friend who was looking forward to her 50th wedding anniversary. I had been inspired by the book A Prayer Shawl Companion although the pattern and suggested choice of yarn came from Cindy Crandall-Frazier's book Contemplative Crochet. My friend is very devoted to her faith tradition so I made an extra effort to crochet many prayers and loving thoughts into her shawl. The shawl was a success. The second shawl I made was less satisfactory in my eyes. While the yarn was soft and a pretty color (muted variations of blue-green), I found out the hard way that I do not like working with chunky yarn. It became a source of great frustration and ill temper on my part and I hesitated to give it away. I found a prayer shawl ministry in my neighborhood and the members pronounced it beautiful when I gave it to them, It was far from "beautiful" in my eyes but I trusted the opinion of the ladies and hope the shawl found its way to the appropriate recipient. The next shawl was a knitted experiment and, as it happened, my next door neighbor was taken ill very suddenly and became very frail. Of course I gave her the shawl and several months later she died. I'm so happy I was able to offer some small comfort as she had no family. But the real surprise came today when I gave a fourth shawl to a friend who lost her son a few months ago. I kind of knew that her favorite color was blue and I was drawn to the Victory and Cheer pattern in the Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion. I had fun making that daisies and lo and behold, they turned out to be her favorite flower! Two prayer shawls for people with a connection to a firm faith tradition and two who (as far as I know) have no church or temple affiliation. But the person who observed that the shawl finds its own recipient is correct. I've started a pale green crocheted shawl mainly to try a new stitch. In the back of my mind I've kind of earmarked for myself but I have a feeling that someone else is bound to come into my life who will appreciate a warm and comforting "hug". Many thanks for your inspiration. June 2011 - Pat Lopresti ~ Portland OR
"I just really want to share a story about the best Christmas present of the year. As you know, I make Prayer Shawlsas a representative of your Prayer Shawl Ministry and have recently had my name added to a list ofcontacts for Dixon, IL. This story starts in the cornfields of Illinois and a 12 year old boy working those fields detassling corn.With the money he earned, knowing how much I enjoy making shawls for others, he bought me 3 skeins of yarn.each a different color. Now in my heart, I knew he bought these for me to make a Prayer Shawl because he knows how muchit means to me to be able to make the shawls for people. Not really knowing that it takes more than 3 skeins of yarn.Through his gift of yarn he was reaching out to share his heart with others who need our prayers.Bless his heart but, since there were 3 different colors of yarn and not enough to make a Prayer Shawl. I needed tothink of a way for him to share his heart.Through his hard work, generosity and gift, along with my talents together we are making Prayer Hatsfor the neonatal intensive care unit/oncology department for a local hospital.I have made about 10 hats so far and when I get a few more done.We will take them together to the hospital to donate them.... As I crocheted these tiny hatsI wove the love of a 12 year old boy and his grandma into each stitch and whispered prayersof hope for those who they are intended for.... The hard work and caring heart of a 12 year oldturned into a way to make a difference in the lives of those he will never meet but will always feel in his heartas children he reached out and touched with his heart..The Prayer Hats came about because of my involvement with the Prayer Shawl Ministry andwill definitely touch the heart and lives of those who will receive them. I will have a note attached to each precioushat that tells the story of Joshua's heart and will include the Prayer Shawl Ministry web address."Teresa (Teri) Jahn Heart to Heart Ministry.....Dixon, IllinoisThis story come from a 'string' of emails, that we feel, tells a beautiful story. Prayer shawl makers often say to usthat as they create prayer shawls, through prayer and meditation they are sometimes offered 'whisperings'.Ideas and insights that come to mind as they pray the shawls into being.Here is an amazing story from Ann Goodwin of Lake Chapala, Mexico and her friends Bill and Janet. In Ann's email she writes; " Hi Bill, Thank you for the update on Janet. Glad to hear how well she is coming along.Michael and I have prayed for Janet all week while I knitted. I woke up early Monday morning andI believe God said that I must make this shawl for Janet. It was finished at 11:40pm last night.The strangest thing, kept happening, the name 'Mary' kept popping into my head when I waspraying for Janet.. Is there anyone in either of your families named Mary. Maybe it was Mary,Mother of Jesus, who was around. I can't explain it. Attached is a poem/prayer written by amember of a shawl ministry. If you go to www.shawlministry.com you will find other prayers andstories of inspiration." In Bill reply email he writes; "Dear Ann, Thank you, thank you, thank you. Mary is the name of Janet's Godmother/favourite aunt.Her Aunt Mary had the same problem as Janet. She had her aortic valve repaired by surgery about 55 years ago.Janet's Aunt Mary passed away about 25 years ago. Janet was thinking of Mary before and after her (Janet's) surgery,i.e., during the period that you were knitting the shawl. When Janet read your e-mail today, she immediatelytelephoned her parents in Montreal to tell them of your experience. They are convinced that it wastheir Mary whose name your were receiving. Janet was very touched by what you have done. It appears asthough you were guided in a number of ways - the colour is Janet's favourite. She has asked me to tell youhow grateful she is for your kindness and your effort and the prayers offered by you and Michael.Your ministry has meaning. Thank you for bringing it to St. Andrew's. Bill and Janet" A Prayer Shawl's StoryWritten By: Kim Hi, I am a lovely and oh so soft, lavender Prayer Shawl, knit by the wonderful hands of Melinda Rucinski, earlier in the year.I was blessed and then put in a storage tub with other shawls, waiting to be given to someone in need of our special warmthand prayers. I waited and waited to be taken out again, but no, here I stayed as other shawls came and went. Why wasn'tI being chosen I asked over and over? The hands that made me and the others who knit pondered the same thing. All year long I waited and waited, then, finally on December 22, I was picked and I was so happy! Kim received a phone callfrom Anita (the owner of Studio Knit). Anita had been contacted by Debbie, who was looking for a prayer shawl for hermother-in-law (Nancy); who was in Hospice with congestive heart failure. Anita knew that Kim was a knitter, and asked if sheknew any one who knit prayer shawls; Kim told her YES, St Paul ’s had a Prayer Shawl Ministry, and they were meeting that very evening. Anita was given the church’s phone number to pass on to Debbie. Shortly there after, Fr. Eric called Kimand asked her to call Annie (Debbie’s sister-in-law) in order to arrange for her to pick up a shawl; she did so,and invited her to come pick a shawl for Nancy . When Annie arrived, the completed shawls were laid out,and it was suggested that she sit and hold each one, to find the one that would be right for Nancy . Annie did so,and kept returning to Me; she said that I felt the most comforting. It was suggested that she, also, pick outpocket shawls for members of the family, and after she had done so, the Happy Clickers joined hands ina circle of prayer with Annie and me; the lavender shawl. After Annie left, the ladies then, knew why I hadremained un-chosen for so long, I was just waiting for the right person to comfort. The Clickers have sincelearned that Mrs. Lowry, went to join her Lord on Thursday, December 24th. They pray that I will continue tocomfort Mrs. Lowry's family of 4 sons and a daughter, spouses and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.Blessings, The Lavender Shawl December 2009 - In 2006, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and my father-in-law went into kidney failure.My husband and I decided to leave my mother, four brothers, and five sisters and their families and move back to hishometown near his folks. In two weeks, were three states away with our two little girls. Six weeks later,my big brother, Mark, was killed in a farm accident when he got caught in a round baler. His funeral wasten years to the day that one of my middle brothers drowned at 17. He was more than a brother to us.Our dad was abusive, and shortly after the birth of her eleventh child, our brave mother finally left Dad to keep us safe.Mark became like a dad to us, and we thought of him as our "rock." My husband and I returned to our new home with numb hearts. We had been wanting another baby, so I was glad to learn I was pregnant a month later. But I hadn't realized how stressedmy body was, and my pregnancy was very exhausting. My mother soon came to visit, and brought with her a lovelypeach prayer shawl given to her by St. Agnes Knitting Circle. Mom gave the shawl to me because she knew how especiallyclose I was to Mark and thought I deserved it the most. That winter I spent many hours sitting my rocker with my shawl,slowly healing from my grief. I felt so numb, yet the softness of the yarn against my skin always reminded me of life and joy.(We had a little boy later in the Spring.) Now folks are better, and we are moving back home at the end of this week. In packing, I found the card that camewith the shawl, and having internet now, I decided to learn more about this ministry. Thank you for reaching out to grieving people like our family. Molly Nightingale Wednesday April 8th, 2009 98-year-old Maria D’Antuono survived the L’Aquila earthquake in her hometown of Tempera, Italy. She was determined to stay alive and in her time spent “doing crochet”. She was trapped more than 30 hours buried under her bed. The 12 Days of the Prayer Shawl Ministry's ChristmasOn the first day of Christmas my PSM gave to me one community project times 3 On the second day of Christmas my PSM gave to me two knit toy bears On the third day of Christmas my PSM gave to me three pairs of socks On the fourth day of Christmas my PSM gave to me four baby caps On the fifth day of Christmas my PSM gave to me five crocheted rings On the sixth day of Christmas my PSM gave to me six needles clacking On the seventh day of Christmas my PSM gave to me seven coupons clipping On the eighth day of Christmas my PSM gave to me eight balls a winding On the ninth day of Christmas my PSM gave to me nine ladies laughing On the tenth day of Christmas my PSM gave to me ten patterns flying On the eleventh day of Christmas my PSM gave to me eleven rows a 'ripping On the twelfth day of Christmas my PSM gave to me twelve projects finished Written by: Pat Jones - Prayer Shawl Ministry at Unity Church Centre Girard, OH Dedicated to their 'greatest champion' Rev. Ric Schumacher I received my shawl upon the passing of our son... Once a person learns of the shawls healing strength, they are driven to knit one as pass on this joyous healing to another. I have found purpose in knitting in the "bleeps" that are found in yarn. I leave those "flaws" in place and knit them right into the garment, then I point them out to the recipient and remind him/her that those "bumps" are a reminder to us of our lives. Often things run smooth and in tranquil comings and goings; however, there are those bumps in life, such as the experience for which the shawl was made. If we use our shawls, wrap ourselves in Gods Love, hold tight to His promises, things will become just like the well worn garment the shawl is meant to be. I use a larger needle to get a loose knit... that's so you can hold tight... poke your fingers in the small holes.. cling to God... Place all your troubles and worries in those holes... Remember, with God's help, all things are possible!! Jane Parsley ~ Andy's Mom Frederick, MD Yesterday I received my ' Prayer Shawl Companion ' book. What a very beautiful book. I recently gave a shawl I knitted to a friend. I asked her if it felt different than other shawls to use. On reflection she realized she kept it close by her all the time because of the comfort it gave her. I understand that because that is how I feel about your book. It too radiates the blessing in which it has been birthed. My home feels richer and warmer because of the light and hope reflected by each contributor. I love it. The wonderful gift of the shawls is how blessed are both the creator and receiver. Thank you to everybody who has been part of the process. With loving appreciation Helen (Australia) Friends invited me to officiate at a celebration in their home to bless their civil marriage. In preparation my husband and I took turns knitting a marriage prayer shawl. We knit it long enough so it could be wrapped it around the couple during the ceremony. The folded shawl which held our prayers, was passed among the people who added their words of blessing. The community blessings transformed a traditional Christian service into a radically inclusive one. Jewish friends offered Hebrew blessings, gay and straight couples added their hopes and prayers, old and young alike participated. As we wrapped the prayer shawl around the couple for the final blessing they could feel the love and prayers of everyone gathered there. From: Lucy Brady - Westminster, MD 2008 - Earlier this year, a shawl ministry was started by members of our church, Shalom United Church of Christ, Richland WA, on Monday nights. At the announcement of the ministry, I had just ordered a book of the prayer shawl patterns, but hadn't received it yet. The book came, I was busy with other things on Monday nights and I never got involved with the ministry. Then in May, I got sick. I had a multi-drug resistant e-coli infection. The doctors found a drug that the e-coli responded to. The fevers were gone, but I still had pretty severe headaches. They decided to do a CT scan of my head. They found a mass. Then an MRI was done to determine if it was an abscess or tumor. It was a tumor. I was sent to Seattle. The doctors there treated the e-coli infection first, they didn't want to operate with the possibility of any other infections in the area. A month later, in June, I returned to Seattle for the tumor removal. The surgery went well, the tumor was benign. Praise the Lord. The day before I left for Seattle for surgery, my friend Mary Lu, who started the prayer shawl ministry at our church, called and asked if she and John could come to visit us. You see, Mary Lu had a shawl for me. It was knit with all the love and prayers of so many people in our congregation. I wrapped the shawl about my shoulders, feeling the peace, love and comfort that only comes when you let go and let God take care of the things you cannot control. The story doesn't end there. When I returned to visit my neurosurgeon for my follow-up in August, he diagnosed a bone infection and I had to return the following week to have a section of my skull removed. The shawl went with me and continued to comfort me. When I returned home, I had to receive antibiotics by infusion twice a day. I was basically immobilized for two hours, twice a day, while the medicine was pumped into my system. I decided to use that time to pass on the gift of a prayer shawl. It is crocheted with so much love and prayers and is going to go to a new mother in our congregation who had a baby who was born at 32 weeks, 5 days gestation. I know she has already received one shawl from our shawl ministry, but you can never have too many. Elliot is doing well, but he faces more than one heart surgery in the months ahead. I pray the shawl will bring comfort to the whole family. Thank you for this ministry. You have started something that is spreading love and prayers throughout the world in a very tangible way. Sincerely, Donna Glass Richland, WA My Name is Yosrah Johnson and I am a sophomore at Northern Illinois University. On February 14, 2008 a sense of unspeakable violence occurred at my school. A man opened fire in my lecture hall killing five of my classmates and injuring dozens more. I was able to escape with some minor physical injuries but the emotional trauma is something I take with me everyday. While my school was in a state of grieving they opened up a place called the "Peace Room" where anyone can go and get away from everyday problems and reflect and pray. I myself has found the peace room to be very helpful. It is so nice to just find a nice quiet place to sit and write and pray. Well one day I go into to the peace room to find beautifully crocheted shawls. I read the note and prayer that came with the shawls and tears came to my eyes. This act of genuine kindness touched my heart and made me realize that love and kindness still exists in our world even when we feel like it is not out there. The prayer shawl honestly came when I was having a day where I thinking a lot about the tragedy and was having personal issues of my own. I would just like to thank everyone who put in their time and effort into making these beautiful prayer shawls you have touched someone today in more ways than one and I know these shawls are going to helps others too. Thank you for your prayers and blessings! Forever grateful, Yosrah Johnson Northern Illinois University Student
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