Immanuel Lutheran Church
                     of Almelund, Minnesota


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Prayer Shawl Ministry

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When we meet: 1st and 3rd Wednesdays January - November


What we do: Knit or crochet prayer shawls to be given away to persons needing comfort and healing or in celebration of a special event. We have fellowship with one another, enjoy a cup of tea and a special treat along with a brief devotion each time we meet. Occasionally we take on other special projects. We have knit or crocheted afghan squares for “Warm Up America” and newborn caps.


Contact Person: Joanne Johnson

Here is some background on prayer shawl ministry from Lion brand.

The prayer shawl idea began in 1998 with Janet Bristow and Victoria Cole-Galo, two graduates from the first class of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, who decided to pray and knit shawls for women in treatment for disorders such as breast cancer and for new mothers.


Soon shawls were being made for other “life events” and celebrations, as well. They chose homespun yarn for their project because it is soft,
easily machine washable, hypoallergenic, and reasonably priced. Homespun’s beautiful textures and colors also played a part, as did the fact that it knits up quickly on large needles.  Bristow and Cole-Galo are still actively involved in this project, giving workshops regularly, and they have a Website at is packed with information.


In the fall of 1999, the Rev. Schenck Izard, a ministry on the staff, a minister on the staff of First Church of Christ Congregational, West Hartford, Connecticut, heard of the project.  Izard, a knitter herself, decided to establish a prayer shawl knitting circle at her church.   The response was so positive that Izard wrote a piece on it for Presence, a three-times-a-year journal for spiritual directors.  The article, “Knitting into the Mystery of God” appeared in Vol. 6, No. 3 in September 2000.  It included the pattern, with the suggestion to use Lion Brand’s Homespun.


Since then, the project has snowballed.  Between them, Bristow says she and Cole-Galo have produced approximately 350 shawls.  As of mid-August 2002, Izard’s group in West Hartford had knitted and given away more than 300 shawls, but the real explosion came from the internet.  People all over the world responded to the presence piece, and there are prayer shawl groups as far away as New Zealand, and a convent of cloistered of nuns in England is now making them with wool they dye with plants from the convent garden!  Most groups in the USA continue to use Homespun.


Bristow says, “Sometimes there are no words.  A prayer shawl wraps someone in a hug that’s the accumulation of thoughts and prayers for them.”





Knitted or Crochet Prayer Shawl


NOTE:  Because different “knitting ministry” groups and individuals make prayer shawls in their own ways, there is a great deal of variation.  This pattern gives a sample of how to make a knit or crocheted shawl.  Your individual choices in yarn and needle/hook size will affect the finished size and thickness of the shawl, but there isn’t one “right” way. Because crochet uses more yarn than knit, a crochet shawl will be a bit smaller than a knit one made with the same number of yarn skeins.  To make a larger one, start with a longer chain and use an additional skein.


Size:  approximately 24” x 60”


Materials:  LION BRAND Homespun, 3 Skeins in color of your choice


Knit:  Size 10.5 (6.5 mm) through 15 (10mm) knitting needles


Crochet:  Size N-13 (9mm) or P-15 (10mm) crochet hook


Knit Version: 
Cast on 63 stitches or any multiple of three, such as 54, 57, or 60.
First Row:  knit 3, purl 3 to the end of the row.

Repeated Row:  Turn and knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches.


Crochet Version:
Loosely chain about 43 stitches.
First Row:  Half-double crochet in third chain from hook and in each chain across.
Repeated Row:  Chain 2, turn. Half-double crochet in each half-double crochet across.


Both Versions:  Work about 2 1/2 skeins in this pattern.  Use the rest of the yarn for fringe, which can be from 3” to 9” long.  Knot the ends of the fringes to keep the yarn from frizzing. 


We have a lot of yarn in our yarn closet. If you would like to try your hand at making a prayer shawl please contact Joanne Johnson to choose yarn!