Why knit a prayer shawl?
Persons of many religions, including Christians, Jews, and Buddhists, wear prayer shawls. They are special wraps draped over the shoulders or head when praying or attending religious services. Prayer shawls help to focus the wearer on prayer, serving to mentally seal off outside influences and promoting a sense of calm and purposefulness during prayer. Sometimes prayer shawls are knitted for other people who need special support as they face illnesses or other serious problems in life.
The Jewish prayer shawl is usually rectangular, rather long, and made with particular symbolic colors. Christians, on the other hand, can use prayer shawls of any size, shape or color (preferably subdued colors, of course). (If it is very warm, they can be held on the lap for seated prayer or simply laid out folded and touched during prayer.)
Here’s a practical pattern for a shawl that can be made up in about a week, working a couple of hours per day. Since this is a fairly long wrap, it can be made as a prayer shawl. Of course, if you want to, this same pattern can be made to use only as a warm wrap -- and not as a prayer shawl.
As mentioned in an earlier page on needlecraft, here, I give only the most general ideas about how to go about these projects. They are not full instructions, but general guides, given to encourage you to knit or crochet simple garments and other useful things for the home. Besides, once you get motivated, you will find dozens of detailed patterns on the Internet for knitting and crocheting almost anything that you can think of.
Easy pattern for a knitted prayer shawl
The triangular shawl described here, is one that I made. It follows a very simple pattern and goes fast with thicker needles. I used size 13 circular needles and worsted weight yarn in 2 shades of medium blue, which I found in my project leftovers bag. Although I didn’t use full skeins, my best guess is that this shawl can be knitted with about 32 ounces of worsted weight yarn, worked in double strand.
My shawl turned out to be about 36 inches long and 64 inches wide. I used only knit stitch (K) throughout and yarn over (YO) for the increases. YO is the action of wrapping the yarn around the needle -- in this case in the direction of a knitted stitch ---and creating a small loop. The YO gives a finished, lace-look to the edges.
If it’s not a special garment for prayer, you can knit it in any length, color or combination of colors that you like. You can make it for yourself and it makes a great gift for a family member or friend. When it's not being worn, it can be draped over a small table or chest of drawers.