Tuesday, September 29, 2009

what does a prayer shawl look like?

a prayer shawl HAS to be a triangular shape to be official, yes?

it can't possibly be a long stripe (i.e scarf) ... and there's NO WAY it could be shaped like a purse.... could it??????

it's been a busy several weeks with lots of projects mixed in ... i've spent many hours searching for 'perfect prayer shawl' patterns .... been involved in a few swaps on Ravelry and wanted to find the perfect pattern for my swap partner .... and all the while i have learned some life lessons as well as some new knitting techniques. For one, i tried a new stitch called the Trinity Stitch and found a new technique that created an interesting texture. When was the last time you veared away from the comfortable stitch you know (knit a row, purl a row) and combined those stitches in a NEW way .... Trinity Stitch is simply a K1, P1, K1 in 1 stitch, then P3together in the next. It only takes 4 rows to complete a pattern. Ready? Cast on a multiple of 4 sts plus 2

Row 1: (RS) Purl
Row 2: k1, *(k1, p1, k1) into next st, p3tog, rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 4: k1, *p3tog, (k1, p1, k1) into next st, rep from * to last st, k1.

Who KNEW that a simple change in perspective - looking at things in a new and different way - could be fun? productive? dare i say, relaxing? I had ever intention of making my swap partner a knitting purse. I found myself praying for her as i knit, asking God to bless her and her family, her knitting that she shares with others, just seeking His favor on her while i knit for her. Well, time constraints limited me to just 1 side of the purse, which i used to turn into a smaller notions bag. i ran the stripes lengthwise, rather than width wise, seamed up the sides and left a flap to fold over - inserted a pocket and some lining and my 1st 'prayer shawl' was filled with goodies - and prayers - and shipped out!
i have many friends who share a common love and affection for a dear family who served as our minister of music so very faithfully for many, many years. we recently learned that Aubrey was having a really hard time with a long term illness and IMMEDIATELY my sweet sisters banded together with their needles and yarn to create a blessing blanket! we have opted for Christmas colors (because our friends brought Christmas to our hearts and our music with a passion that few can match). Casting on a multiple of 3 stitches (not to exceed 24ish...) we have all agreed to knit stripes 4 foot in length and pray for dear Aubrey and Phyllis during this time. You may call them stripes or scarfs but when we meet again, we'll sew them together, spend some more time in prayer for this sweet family, and present them with a blessing blanket --- or --- a prayer shawl!
i've knit 2 stripes so far for aubrey. Have you ever tried the 'mistake rib' pattern? or the diagonal rib stitch pattern? yet again, it"s about
Diagonal Rib (multiple of 4 stitches)
Row 1 (rs) *k2, p2, rep from * to end
Row 2: same as row 1
Row 3: *p1, k2, p1, rep from * to end
Row 4: *p1, k2, p1, rep from * to end
Row 5: *p2, k2, rep from * to end
Row 6: same as row 5
Row 7: *p1, k2, p1, rep from * to end
Row 8: *k1, p2, k1, rep from * to end
Repeat these 8 rows for desired length.
Now, what have i learned from all this? Prayer shawls ARE triangles ... but they are also rectangles and squares. They are long, short, thick, thin. Wool or cotton. Cashmere or Acrylic. A shawl is a covering that is worn to bring comfort, shield from the cold, wrap around us as a gentle reminder that someone was thinking of you, PRAYING for you and whispering your name to the Father. Is that NOT the way that we knit just about every sweet gift that leaves our needles? Romans 8:26 reminds us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words when we often don't know exactly how to pray, or what to ask for. I have learned that my knitting produces prayer shawls in all shapes and sizes for the people i love, that God has laid on my heart. Some of my prayers are audible... ALL of them are understandable because my Father is always listening.
What else have i discovered? God can use ME and my needles even though i may not fit the standard, pre-conceived idea of a knitter! I may not have as much experience as others, my techniques may be lacking compared to others, my yarn may not be as 'nice' as others.... but when God sees MY heart and my willingness to be used, HE blesses my gifts. He has ordered my days and my yarn (though my stash does seem a bit discombobulated at the moment!) He knows the number of hairs on my head and the number of needles in my knitting bag! When i keep my focus on Him i soon discover that His love for me is the catalyst for all that i do. He sees me with different eyes! How can i NOT share His love with everyone i meet ... some are hurting, some are searching ... but we all need HIM! and a prayer shawl (purse, scarf, blanket) is an outward expression of such a compelling love!
In the rhythm of the needles there is music for the soul.
Be still and know that I Am God!

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