Tips ~ Ideas ~ Other Patterns
Conversion Chart for Needles and Hooks
|Metric:||Canada/UK:||USA Crochet||USA Knitting|
Yarn Weight Symbol and Category Names
Slightly Bulky To Bulky
Bulky To Super Bulky
Type of Yarns in Category
Stock, Fingering, Baby
Ideal for elegant apparel, fashion accessories, and lacy home accents
DK, Light Worsted
Kids and adults alike enjoy the comfort of light-weight yarn.
Worsted, Afghan, Aran
The classic yarn for all purposes, with a wide range of colors and textures.
Chunky, Craft, Rug
Fashionable quick knit and crochet projects are a breeze with bulky yarn.
Super bulky yarns are ideal for quick knit and crochet projects.
Knit Gauge in Stockinette Stitch to 4 Inches
Recommended Needle in Metric Size Range
2.25 - 3.25mm
3.25 - 3.75mm
3.75 - 4.5mm
4.5 - 5.5mm
5.5 - 8mm
8mm and larger
Recommended Needle U.S. Size Range
1 to 3
B - C
3 to 5
E - F
5 to 7
F - G
7 to 9
H - I
9 to 11
I - L
11 and larger
L - N
Note: these technical specs are approximate. Gauge your work according to your particular tension.
Shawl Tip: I have found that I want to continue praying for the recipients of my shawls after they are finished and sent on their way, so I save a small scrap of yarn and tie it onto an old knitting needle. Since I make each shawl (so far!) out of a different kind of yarn, this helps me remember each person. I keep the needle by my bed so I can use it to guide my meditations for them. I, like many of the other knitters here, are disappointed by the raveling of some yarn. To avoid that, I have instead purchased 1/8" satin ribbon in the colors of the yarn (often a spool runs about $.50--it takes just over one spool to do one shawl) and used that to make fringe. I measure fingertip-to-elbow and then cut that in half. I pull it halfway through the shawl edge with a crochet hook and then tie the two sides together in a simple knot. If the yarn is variegated, I try to use several different colors of ribbon--otherwise I use about 4 lengths of just one color that coordinates. Susan B-G
Knitting Tip: When casting on: go up a size on the needle. This will give you a looser binding edge. For example: If you are using size: 11 needles for the body of your work - then cast on using size: 13 needles (for the first row only).
Knitting Tip: To give the outside edge of your shawl a more even and finished look: slip the first stitch of every row onto your needle (this means without adding a knit or purl). Continue knitting and purling to the end of the row. (Note: it is not necessary to add extra stitches to the pattern. Simply put - the first stitched that you slip off will become your "last" stitch on the next row. It is this "last" stitch that you need to be concerned with. Make sure that it receives either a 'knit' or 'purl' stitch - depending on the pattern.) Tip contributed by: Judith C.
Tassel Tip: "Instead of using a crochet hook, I use a latch hook for attaching tassels. I've long since used it for making rugs and it keeps the yarn secure as I pull it through the edge. Hope this is helpful to you." - Dot D.
Crochet Tip: "After reading over the directions (from the instruction page), I tried using a half double crochet stitch and I am very pleased with the results. The half double incorporated the trinity idea, using three loops per stitch. I share this with you because it makes a lovely shawl and is quite warm." - Jan T. Georgetown, SC
Shawl Care Instructions: "I made a card on the computer which includes the Symbolism, Prayer of Blessing for completed shawl, Prayer for Healing and "About the Shawls.." I clipped (the washing/care instructions from the yarn label) and attached the care instructions to the back of the card by covering them with Wide, Clear, Carton Sealing Tape. This way they are less likely to be misplaced or torn." - Gail in Boise, ID/Apache Junction, AZ
Knitting Tip: When teaching younger students to knit - Susan of Berlin, CT suggests using 'chopsticks' - "they are affordable and easy for them to use!"
Fringe Tip: "My fringe (even when knotted) seems to "melt" and lose form. I'm using 57 stitches with a garter stitch, and for the first AND last 3 or 4 inches I'm knitting the yarn together with a coordinating or contrasting "fun-fur". Then I don't use the fringe. This gives a very attractive edge on both ends, and makes a very tailored wrap. I'll probably knit the shawl for a little longer length to make up for the absence of fringe." J.J.
Printing Instructions: Linda B. suggests copying the shawl directions into a document and enlarging the font size to '18' or '20' for easier reading for those member of her community who are "hard of seeing". (Please include our website address).
Knitting Tip: "I have Macular Degeneration and thought my knitting days were over until I heard of the Shawl Ministry. The simple patterns with large needles and bulky yarn are within my capability. Even so, I had trouble when I lost track of where I was. If I got distracted thru conversation, or put the work down mid-row, I couldn't see whether the next stitch should be a knit or purl. I would have to count off stitches from the beginning of the row to found where I was. Also, I would not realize I had dropped a stitch until the end of a row--K2--whoops! A dropped stitched somewhere and everything off after that. I would have to get someone else to fix it for me. Then one of our group members suggested putting markers on the needle after every 6 stitches. It's a pain slipping a marker every 6. but if I lose count, I never have more than 5 to count to find my place. If I drop a stitch, I have immediate feedback, and can usually correct it myself. This strategy has helped considerably." Patricia J. Sunland, CA
Weaving: Lowell wrote in stating that she applies this ministry to her weaving!
Shawl Tip: "If the person receiving the shawl has (or has had) breast cancer, we do the card in pink with a pink ribbon. You would be surprised at how people recognize the pink symbolism." Janice B. Wellsboro, PA
Fur Fringe Tip: Excerpt from our directions:
You can knit on the fringe. Cast on 63 sts. Complete one row of the Fur Stitch. Complete the body of the shawl. Work one row of the Fur Stitch. Bind off. Weave in the ends.
Pattern for Knitted in fringe: The fur stitch
Row 1 (RS): K1, *K1 but do not drop st off left needle, bring yarn forward between needles to make the fringe (you may wind over a piece of cardboard for fringe of a uniform length), take yarn between needles to the back and K in the same st again, pass the first stitch over the second and drop it off the left needle*. Repeat *.* on remaining 60 sts, K1.
Fur stitch modified from Mitchell, The Country Diary Book of Knitting, p 147.
Tassel Tip: Elke from Red Lion, PA writes: "I, too, have found that the certain yarns fray terribly, as it has been reported by other knitters. Even knotting the ends didn't help too much. So I put on the tassels and then washed the whole shawl in the gentle cycle. I then put the shawl on towels and let it air-dry. By the time the shawl was almost dry, the tassels looked awful, as you can imagine, all frayed and tangled. I then took a wide-tooth comb and began to gently comb each tassel. After that, I took a little bit finer comb and repeated combing each tassel. Then I trimmed all the tassels to even out the ends. The result is an "evenly frayed" tassel that looks similar to a horse's tail. It looks pretty and eliminates the worry about how long before the tassel will fray."
What the pattern looks like: Occasionally, there seems to be some confusion over what the prayer 'shawl pattern' should look like. Here is a chart comparing the 'Original K3-P3 Prayer Shawl' pattern to 'ribbing'. When making the Shawl Pattern remember to: Knit the Purls and Purl the Knits. This is a variation of the 'seed stitch' - the idea is based in "planting" your seeds of well wishes and good intentions. You can also "cast on: multiples of 6 +3" - Gail, LA.
Look at the first three stitches of the row to determine how to start your row. Remember to knit-the-purls and purl-the-knits and you can't go wrong. Vicky
Key: Knits = v v v and Purls = - - -
Original K3-P3 Shawl Pattern: Ribbing Pattern:
Row 1: v v v - - - v v v Row 1: - - - v v v - - -
Row 2: - - - v v v - - - Row 2: - - - v v v - - -
Row 3: v v v - - - v v v Row 3: - - - v v v - - -
K3 P3Pattern Ribbing
(click on photos to enlarge)
Tip from Joyce: I use a stitch marker after stitch 3, then every 9 stitches for this pattern. Keeps me on track with the pattern.
Fringe Tip: One of the ladies in my group at church came up with a great idea for fringe for the fraying yarn. To avoid it she took her knitted shawl and crocheted chained loops across the bottom of each end. She would single crochet in the shawl and then she would chain about 25 and then single crochet in the shawl again all the way across. She then blocked them to make them lie flat. It made a nice fringe without all the fraying. Karin
Knitting Tip: CO 120-130 stitches, leaving a 10 inch tail. Then I change colors every row, knitting in garter stitch. I use size 11 needles. I make them at least 18 inches wide. Works great, especially if you try to keep a color scheme. My group's favorite one was shades of red and burgundy, with the occasional brown, hot pink, and yellow strands. Many said it looked like a traditional 'ruana color way'. If you have the "Knitter's shawl book", there is a pattern called the "Graceful" that is great for doing scraps. Julie in E. Central Illinois
Two examples of shawls knitted the 'long-way'
Crochet Tip [pattern]: I use a size 'N' hook and three skeins of yarn (supersave size). I chained 54 stitches to start. then I chained one, and turned it. I single crocheted one row, chained two, turned. then I did 3 rows of the half double crochet. (chaining 2 after the half double rows). for the single rows, I chained one before I did the single row. Wendy
Group Tip: When I make a prayer shawl it becomes a group effort. Instead of me knotting all the fringe on my own I get other people who know the person the shawl is for to add a prayer and a knot. This way the person (who is informed that each knot symbolizes a prayer said for them) not only gets the comfort from the shawl, but has a wonderful reminder of the love and support they have from a large number of people.
Flora L. - Bristol TN
Crochet Edge Tip: I didn't put fringe on the shawl, as I was concerned that it might be in the way, or might get caught in her wheelchair. When I got to the end of the shawl, I finished the edge with "reverse "
crochet, working left to right, on both ends of the shawl. It gave a nice finish, and it will not curl
later. Sara H. West Chester Twp., OH
Crochet Beads to the edge of a shawl: To add beads on the end of a shawl, use a smaller crochet hook. Place the bead on the hook and 'single crochet' the bead into the edge of the shawl. Idea submitted by: Marion G. of Bristol, CT.
Crochet Pattern: Another crochet pattern I have tried which works nicely and incorporates the pattern of three is to do 3 rows of single crochet alternating with 3 rows of double crochet. Finishing the sides and ends with a row of single or half double crochet is a nice finish. Kathleen P. Immaculate Conception Church - Easthampton, MA
Variation of the "shawl knitted the long way"- I have started knitting synchronicity (meaningful coincidence) shawls. Select 6 yarns (different colors and/or textures) and number them from 1 to 6.
Roll a die (dice) to determine the color to use and
flip a coin to decide whether to knit or purl (heads I knit, tails I purl).
I use multiples of 12 stitches - 3 for trinity, etc. times 4 for wholeness equals 12, another holy number.
132 stitches on 13 needles makes a nice length. Blessings, Chris A. Prayer Shawl ministry at Perdido Bay United Methodist Church, Pensacola, FL
Wedding Shawl - I have knit two wedding shawls for my daughter and son, using white yarn and the color chosen for the bridesmaids' dresses. At the receptions all the guests were given small pieces of decorative paper on which to write a message, prayer, or special comment for the bride and groom. Everyone also received a bead, which was held as each said a prayer for the newlyweds. While the bride and groom were on their honeymoon, I stitched the beads to their prayer shawl. The prayer shawl and all the messages were packaged together in a keepsake box, which was given to them upon their return. My daughter and her husband and my son and his wife were all thrilled with the shawls and have them prominently displayed in their homes. On their first anniversary, my daughter and son-in-law took the shawl and the box of messages with them on their mini-vacation and told me later how much they enjoyed reading the messages again. Although I have knit several prayer shawls for people with illnesses, the wedding shawls are my favorites. The wedding reception guests thought the bead/prayer idea was wonderful and were very cooperative. Many have since commented that they would like to do something similar at upcoming weddings. Janet S. Fennimore, WI
Quilted lap shawl: Mary S. of Centenniel, OH sews quilted lap shawls for wheelchair bound recipients. The quilts measure 45" X 45".
Knit3 ~ Purl3 Tip: Submitted by: Barbara
On each of the 3 knit or purl stitches you say the 'Sign of the Cross', with the Amen occurring when you switch your yarn from front to back or back to front.
K1 - In the name of the Father
K1 - and of the Son
K1 - and of the Holy Spirit
bring yarn forward - Amen
P1 - In the name of the Father
P1 - and of the Son
P1 - and of the Holy Spirit
bring yarn to the back - Amen
We have made some "prayer scarves" for high school and college age girls. We still use the knit or crochet patterns which incorporate "threes", simply not as wide as a shawl. Students love them and can wear them all the time. It is a wonderful reminder of God's love for the college student - college years are a time when many young people drift away, and we have found them to be very well received! Sarah B. - Amissville United Methodist Church Prayer Shawl Ministry
For the fringe on Prayer Shawls:
1. I first cut the size of the fringe;
2. knot both ends as close to the end of the yarn as possible;
3. I then cut the the fray yarn off as close to the knot as possible,
4. I touch each end with a drop of D Fray.
You can buy the D Fray at most fabric stores. I like the neatness of the ends without the fray.
Submitted by: Nancy S.
Mary's Cousin Knitting Group
Resurrection Catholic Parish Tualatin, OR
Prayer Cloth for pets: This suggestion comes from Marge in Carmel Valley, CA. She suggests using left over yarn to make a prayer cloth for pets Pictured here is 'Grace' - she belongs to the parish secretary at St. Dunstan's Church. Grace has had to have several tumors removed. But, that doesn't stop her! She goes to church every day during the week. The cloth is made in the K3-P3 pattern and is approximately 8 X 12" in size.
Example of a woven prayer shawl done on a weaving loom by: Marilyn
The shawl is approximately 25" X 70"
Fleece Shawl: I buy one yard of fleece and cut fringe on the two short ends. I pray for the recipient while I cut the fringe and I always tie a knot in one piece of fringe when I've finished. Then every person who says a prayer ties a knot in one of the pieces of fringe. The note says that "every knot represents a prayer said for you". Jeanne P. Shelby, NC
Prayer Dish Cloth - By Julie Hopp ~ Peru, NE: My basic idea is to reduce the prayer shawl and make a prayer dish cloth to share with friends. As I am a new knitter, it is easier for me to remember always to start with a knit stitch. Using number 10 needles cast on 27 stitches with your favorite cotton (dishcloth) yarn. I do like my dishcloths a bit tighter than the prayer shawl. They are less likely to catch on silverware and other sharp edges. Start each row with a k3, p3, until you have about 27 rows for a square dishcloth. My desire to re-learn knitting (Junior High lessons did not stick) was to make dishcloths. A very dear family friend, Mary, made dishcloths for all of our family. She died a year ago and I have the last surviving dishcloth she made for me on display. I do not use it anymore.
A prayer to say while making the dishcloths:
Dear Lord, I am making
this for my friend (name if decided). Please help her/him feel joy while
they wash their dishes. Let them sing. Let them pray. Let them
celebrate the blessings you have given to them. Amen.
A prayer to say while washing the dishes:
Dear Lord, as I wash these dishes let me say thank you for having enough
food to eat and family and friends to share a meal with. Let me remember
those who do not have enough to eat, those who do not have friends and
family to share a meal with, and those who do not have dishes to wash.
Thank you. Lord, for this daily reminder of my blessings. Amen
Knitted Blessings: Based on a tip from Barbara, Kim P. from Western Massachusetts" writes: "Shawl knitting is something folks of all faiths can do... You can use any affirmation that will reflect the attribute you want to set into the work. I've used "Help us heal," to direct healing energy, and "We are loved" to welcome love of all kinds into our lives. You could make up other things for specific situations: "Free us," for someone struggling with addiction, etc.
The nice thing about using "we" in the statements is that it includes the knitter and/or the entire human race as a recipient of the energy as well, and who couldn't benefit from some Universal Love? As you knit through, use the following chant to keep track of stitches and set your intention in the work. At the end of the row as I turn the work over, I say something along the lines of "I make this shawl to bring healing and love to [Name of recipient]; so mote it be.
K1 - "Maiden,"
K1 - "Mother,"
K1 - "Crone;"
bring yarn forward - "Help us heal."
P1 - "Maiden,"
P1 - "Mother,"
P1 - "Crone;"
bring yarn to the back - "We are loved."
Symbolism of the number 18: I knit baby items for "Stitches from the Heart", to go to needy infants in hospitals around the country. I thought, being Jewish, that I'd make my work based on a multiples of 18 stitches. Since your pattern is based on threes, this one would be also, since 18 is a multiple of 3 anyway. In old Jewish Kaballah or numerology, 18 is the luckiest number, and it symbolizes life. The 18th letter of the Hebrew alphabet is "chai", as in "L'chiam", or "To Life!", which is a toast. (the "ch" is a guttural sound like you are clearing the back of your throat, sort of, and not like the sound in the word "chair"). At new births, Jewish babies are given money in multiples of $18, and contributions to the temple or synagogue are also made in multiples of $18, because it is considered to be lucky and well-favored. This has been a custom for centuries. Ruth Allen
Wedding Shawls: Wendy Paffenroth and members of the First Presbyterian Church of Goshen, NY make 'wedding shawls' for each newly married couple in their church. They are made in white or cream and add a row or two around the edge in the bridesmaids' or wedding colors. Another type of shawl they make is called a "sampler shawl." The shawl maker will incorporates different types of stitches signifying a couples togetherness as one.
Fringe Tip: I have started crocheting the fringe on the shawls that I make. It makes a nice finished edge without the fraying and all the time it takes to knot each end. I use a DVD case (the edges are smooth and rounded) to get uniform length in my fringe. You can do as many or as few as you want, depending on the fullness you like. Working from the right side, and leaving a 6" end, begin with a single crochet in the first stitch. Wrap the yarn around the DVD case once, holding the case in front of your work, and single crochet in the next stitch, around the case again and in the next stitch, working across. At the end of the row, cut a 6 inch end and knot your ends or you can weave them in and have no loose ends. I have done both. It seems a little clumsy at first, but once you get the hang of it, it goes quite smoothly. Give it a try, I think you'll enjoy the effect. Sherrie Smith-Toland Centuria, WI
Charm Tip: "If you want to decorate a shawl with charms or bits of symbolic jewelry, try attaching the charms with a large lobster-claw clasp from a craft store. That way, the charms can be removed so the shawl can be safely washed, then reattached once the shawl is dry. New charms can also be added to mark new milestones (such as completion of chemo or a final report that cancer is in remission)." Mary A. Grosner, New Milford, CT
Rosary Prayer Squares: Indoula from the Message Board write: "I am a hospice nurse and I lead the prayer shawl group at my church. My ladies were looking for new ways to use up scrap yarn. After much searching, I asked them to make prayer squares. they donate them to my hospice and local nursing homes. My chaplains and bereavement coordinator give them out on their patient visits. They love them and one patient inspired a new twist. She received a square and commented that the size was perfect to say the rosary with. I took that comment back to the group and one of the ladies incorporated pony beads into the border the number of the rosary. We now have rosary squares. My chaplains are begging for as many as my group can make to give out. I would encourage groups who are looking for places to donate shawls and maybe now squares, to think of your local hospice. all hospices have bereavement programs and chaplains. I am sure they would greatly appreciate ways to touch the lives of the people they care for."
Fabric Labels: For custom made labels, try creating your own! Companies that sell products to help your make labels, business cards, postcards.... etc. also sell 'iron-on' transfer sheets and 'fabric' paper sheets. You'll have to do some research on what is compatible with your printer - especially if you will be placing it on a shawl that will be laundered. But, you can save money by using your home computer and printer!
Prayer Bracelets: Thank you so much for this ministry. My friend mentioned this to me in passing on Easter and I've embraced it. Right now I'm a one person shawl ministry in our tiny Anglican parish but I hope to get more involved soon. I'm definitely getting my 11 & 13 year old daughters working. Which is where my idea comes in.
My youngest wanted to learn how to crochet so I looked to find a simple project that would help her learn and be quick to finish before she lost interest. I found some cute crocheted bracelets that were just simply single crochet. Then I read about the prayer scarves and prayer dish cloths that others have "spun off" from the original prayer shawl pattern. So I came up with prayer bracelets. They are quick and simple to make while still still keeping with the idea of doing something for others and giving others a tangible reminder that others are praying for them. In fact, I am making enough to give one to each of the girls in our youth group. Here's how I make them.
Foundation: chain 4 (thin bracelet) or 7 (thick cuff bracelet)
Row 1: skip first chain and single crochet in each across (3 or 6 sc)
Row 2: chain 3, turn and double crochet in each single crochet (3 or 6 dc)
Row 3 & 4: repeat Row 2
Continue repeating Rows 1-4 until bracelet is just big enough to fit over hand
(it will stretch)slip stitch to join ends.
Again, thanks. This ministry has taught me the treasure of peace and just sitting quietly and praying while I work. It's a wonderful haven. Be Blessed, Dawn Lafrate
The following fringing tip can be adapted and applied to prayer shawls. Heather writes; "...After looking at your knitted tips it seems as if lots of people have ran into the problem of the fringe being ugly. I recently made several scarves called 'loopy scarves'. With the scarf you cast on 18sts. Garter stitch the whole thing. Then when you come to your last row, you knit 3 (yes the three thing again). Cast off 12. Leaving the last three stitches. Then you just unravel each side. You will get long loops, on the two edges. Do not use yarns that are hard to unravel. Use smooth yarns."
Shawl in progress: "When I know the person I am knitting for, I have started taking a prayer shawl in progress around to people who know that person too, and having them do a few rows or even a few stitches. This does mean keeping to the simplest shawl patterns- the original one or a plain stitch with maybe a border edge. The recipients have really felt the gift and the prayer surrounding them from many people." Kathleen T.
Fringe tip: If I need to make a fringe on anything, I cast on a few extra stitches at the start of the casting off row, then immediately cast them off again. Cast off the same number, then cast on and cast off again. For example, if I want to make a short fringe, at the start of the casting off row, I cast on 5 extra stitches, then cast off 10, then cast on 5 and so on. This makes a good fringe which won't unravel, and you can experiment with how long to make each tassel to look just right on each shawl. Kate.
click on the title for:
All Crochet Shawl Patterns
All Knitted Shawl Patterns
EXTRA Tips and Ideas!
By Janet Bristow
Applique Fabric Shawls
"Binding Off Technique"
Submitted by: Gail
Cheese Shortbread Cookies
Submitted by: Marty Shroff
Chapelwood United Methodist Church - Houston, TX
Fun Fur (edge) Shawl
Submitted by: Robin M.
How to make a Nursing Shawl and Baby Shawl © 2011
By: Janet Bristow
Jan Hagels Cookies
Submitted by Dorothy J.
St. Paul Lutheran Church - Old Saybrook, CT
"Knitting a shawl the long way"
By Janet Bristow
for 'peg' looms
Sebastian's House of Bread Soup Recipe
Woven Prayer Shawl
"The Madonna Knitting Christ's Seamless Garment"
By Meister Bertram von Minden 1345-1415 - Legend states that when they divided
Christ's clothes at the foot of the cross, there was one that was seamless and
couldn't be divided, the reason being that Mary knitted His inner garment
in the round, therefore no seams.
Take time to sit down with a good book!
Try one of these great books:
The Prayer Shawl Companion Books
Designs and Patterns to Embrace, Inspire, and Celebrate Life
Written By: Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria A. Cole-Galo
[click on the photos for ordering options)
Knitting for Peace ~ The Knitting Sutra ~ The Knitting Goddess
A Pattern of Love and Forgiveness - Knitting, Praying, Forgiving by Cheryl Wunsch MEd RNCS
The Prayer Shawl - Wrapped in God's Love
Written by Susan Fitzsimonds
Illustrated by Mary Gregg Byrne
"The Littlest Knitter" by Ellenor Shepherd member of
First Lutheran Church - Greensboro, NC
Author of the Saturday Evening Post Sept/October Prayer Shawl Ministry article:
"Wrapped In Love - Prayer Shawls"
New - CD from composer and pianist - Chris Wolf
"If My Shawl Could Sing"
Email Us with your tips and ideas!