How to knit a prayer shawl

Written by michelle powell-smith
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Prayer shawls are an easy knitting project and make a beautiful gift for anyone in need of support. Keep a positive thought, prayer or wish for the recipient in mind as you knit a prayer shawl. Several charities accept prayer shawl donations, or you may find that your local church, nursing home, cancer centre or other facility may appreciate them. Prayer shawls are an excellent interfaith project. Even a beginner knitter can knit a prayer shawl.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Yarn
  • Needles in a size appropriate for your yarn

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  1. 1

    Choose a soft, yet relatively bulky yarn when knitting prayer shawls. Keep care in mind. Many prayer shawls will be used for warmth and comfort in medical situations, so easy laundering is helpful. Use a needle size that yields a fabric with a nice drape.

  2. 2

    Cast on stitches in a multiple of 3. Choose the total number of stitches based on the final width desired. If you're using a bulky weight yarn, 57 stitches will work well. Add additional stitches for a lighter weight yarn.

  3. 3

    Choose between several pattern options. The most traditional choice for a prayer shawl is a knit 3, purl 3 pattern to the end or row on every row. On the wrong side rows, you will be knitting the purls and purling the knit stitches. You can also opt for a knit 3, purl 3 rib pattern, a knit 3, purl 3 moss stitch pattern or work the entire shawl in seed stitch if you prefer. The number three has spiritual significance in many faiths and works well as a repeating, easily memorised pattern.

  4. 4

    Work to the desired length and bind off loosely. Keep healing thoughts, prayers or blessings in mind as you work each stitch of the knit shawl. Be sure to add in yarn as needed mid-row to avoid visible ends on the edges of your hand knit prayer shawl. The prayer shawl should be long enough to wrap snugly and warmly around the shoulders.

  5. 5

    Cut lengths of yarn to around 6 inches to make fringe. Use a simple slip knot to attach fringe to the ends of your prayer shawl. Add beads to the fringe if desired.

Tips and warnings

  • A prayer shawl is a lovely gift for a grieving friend.
  • Make shawls wider and shorter for anyone in a wheelchair.

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