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Form A Peace Shawl Guild--It's A Great Way To Give
If you're a knitter, and you're anything like me, somewhere in your home is a sad little stockpile of leftover yarn waiting for it's chance to shine. I tend to over purchase for knitting projects "just in case" and I'm really never quite organized enough to remember to return unused skeins to the yarn store. I don't know that I would return them anyway (I think I might be a little bit of a yarn hoarder--but I'm not going to think about that right now). So what should you do in order to start working your way through the yarn stash? Form a prayer shawl guild.
Also called Peace Shawls, or Comfort Shawls--the idea is the same: knit or crochet a medium sized shawl for the purpose of gifting it to an individual who for what ever reason will find comfort in it. Groups dedicated to producing the shawls are growing in popularity among knitters and crocheters and in many church communities where the prayer shawls are distributed by the clergy to parishioners during home and hospital visits. If you aren't already associated with an organization that you know could make use of the shawls then call around. Nursing homes, hospices and many other charitable organizations would be delighted to distribute them.
Are there rules? Sort of.
1) Never sell the shawls--the purpose is to provide comfort, not achieve monetary gain.
2) Don't make them overly large. About 60 inches long and around 24 or so inches wide will work. Remember that recipients are sometimes bedridden or wheelchair bound so you don't want something that is overly bulky or that might get caught in the wheels of a chair.
3) Wrap or bag them attractively with a handwritten note explaining the sentiment behind the gift. Include washing instructions.
Prayer Shawl Pattern
This article wouldn't be complete without a pattern so I'm including one that I developed. This Peace Shawl/Prayer Shawl can be completed in a weekend.
Knitted Peace Shawl/Prayer Shawl pattern
Using worsted weight or sightly heavier yarn, cast 50 stitches on to size 13 needles.
Rows 1-4 knit across
Row 5 knit across, increase 10 stitches evenly distributed across the row as you knit (60)
Row 6 K1, YO, K2tog across
Repeat row 6 until the shawl is about 60 inches long.
On the next row knit across, decreasing 10 stitches evenly across the row
Knit the next 4 rows
Bind off and add fringe if desired