Sunday, April 08, 2007

February 26, 2007.

Prayer Shawl Talk, Part Three

[I finished the knitting of my first prayer shawl this evening. It is about 60 inches long. If it were a prayer shawl someone was giving to me, I would like it to be longer (and I even have short arms!) because my hands get cold easily and it would feel nice to be able to cuddle my hands in the shawl. I used only 2 and half skeins of Lion Brand Yarn "Homespun". I'll make another shawl in the same color (Williamsburg) using 2 and half skeins. But after that, I will be making shawls longer - such as 3 or 3 and half skeins. Thanks to Gerttie and Elisa for their input on fringe! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't think fringe should go on these shawls. But to each her own! :)]


Shawl Instructions Knitting and Crochet


Knitting: Knitting Needle size 11 or 13
Crochet: Size 'M', 'N' or 'P' crochet hook

Amount of yarn needed:

Knitted: 555 yards in the yarn of your choice.

Crochet and larger shawls: 740 yards for longer shawls and 60+ stitches

Before You Begin:

Because this is a spiritual practice, before one begins the knitting (crochet) process, a blessing, prayer or wish can be said, dedicating the work of your hands and the intentions of the receiver. You may want to light a candle and play soft music to enhance your knitting time, remembering that this is a prayerful time. When working in a group, you may want to pass the work-in-progress around the circle, asking each person to add some stitches to the shawl, or to just hold it for a while to add their prayers, energy and good wishes.

Knitting Directions

Cast on stitches in multiples of three - 54, 57, 60 or 63. For example, if you use size 11 needles and cast on 54 stitches, 3 skeins of yarn is enough. Some yarns vary in elasticity which will affect your outcome, as will your knitting tension. If the yarn you have chosen has a multicolored stripe, be careful when tying on a new skein. Make sure the color sequence is correct. Also, tie on the new skein in the body of the shawl, instead of an edge, as the ends tend to show.
* First Row: k3, p3, to end
* Second Row: Always start the next row with the opposite stitch of what you see. For instance, if the first stitch on the needle is a knit, then start with a purl.
KNIT THE PURLS AND PURL THE KNITS! It should NOT look like ribbing.

Note: If you cast on 57 or 63 stitches you will always start with K3

Crochet Directions

Chain 54 stitches or desired width of shawl.
Chain 1, turn, single crochet in each of the stitches to end. Chain 3 and turn.
Double crochet in top of each single crochet. Repeat this row 2 more times.
Chain 1 and do 1 row of single crochet to end. Chain 3 and turn.
Do 3 rows of double crochet. Repeat pattern to end (1 row single, 3 rows double)
End with 1 row of single. Finish with fringe.
*Note: that crocheting typically uses more yarn than knitting, so you might have to adjust the width and size of hook or use another 1/2 skein. It has been suggested that 7 skeins of the same dye lot be purchased and crochet two shawls each using 3 1/2 skeins. Another suggestion, if you are trying to obtain 3 skeins, is to integrate other yarn colors into the shawl.

To Complete the shawl:

Knit (crochet) until the piece measures from wrist to wrist, or approximately 57-58" long. (Knitting: bind off with a knit row). Use what you have left to cut *fringe. Suggestion for fringe: you can also do this before tying on the third skein, then continue knitting to the end. Divide the pile in half and slip knot them to the ends, evenly spaced. If the yarn is manufactured loosely wound, you might have to knot the ends of the fringe to keep it from unraveling.

Now that the shawl is completed:
You may want to add beads and/or charms to the fringe. They can be new or parts of old pieces of jewelry. They not only add beauty, but also can be used to inspire or aid meditation. Before you give it away, say a blessing, prayer or wish over the shawl, keeping the receiver in mind. Another nice touch is enclosing a potpourri sachet scented with lavender oil, a calming aroma, or any essential oil that you like. It is also good to enclose an explanation and/or a blessing, prayer or wish for the receiver. For instance, if you choose a certain symbolic color for the yarn, beads or charms it's interesting and helpful to explain your reason.

Tassel Instructions

Items needed:

Approximately ½ to ⅓ skein of yarn

*Cut: 76 pieces of yarn each 54" in length

Remember to cut lengths for the tassels before using up all of your yarn on the shawl!

This should be done before adding your last skein to the shawl.

Crochet Hook Size: 1/9 – 5.50mm (or similar)


27" X 27" piece of heavy cardboard or fabric-covered plywood

Flat open surface to work on

*The easiest way to make multiple strands of yarn is by taking a 27" piece of sturdy cardboard (or several glued together) or a piece of plywood covered with fabric to prevent snags and splinters. For each rotation (back and front of board or around in a circle) count off 38 times. Cut off only one end and you will have 38 pieces, each at 54". This amount is enough to complete one side of the shawl. Make an additional 38 strands for the opposite side of the shawl.

To attach the tassels:

Place the shawl on a flat surface with the binded edge facing you. Place your crochet hook (down) into the binded row, on the outside edge. Now, take two (2) strands of yarn and line up the (4) cut ends together. Fold these in half to find the middle (tassel length +/- 12"). Hook these eight (8) pieces of yarn to the crochet hook and pull them (up) through the binded edge of the shawl, approximately 1-2" to form a loop. It is through this loop that you will insert the ends through. Pull the tassels to tighten up the up the connection between the shawl and the tassels. Add a set of tassels every 1 ½ to 3".


Shawl Tip: I have found that I want to continue praying for the recipients of my shawls after they are finished and sent on their way, so I save a small scrap of yarn and tie it onto an old knitting needle. Since I make each shawl (so far!) out of a different kind of yarn, this helps me remember each person. I keep the needle by my bed so I can use it to guide my meditations for them. I, like many of the other knitters here, are disappointed by the raveling of some yarn. To avoid that, I have instead purchased 1/8" satin ribbon in the colors of the yarn (often a spool runs about $.50--it takes just over one spool to do one shawl) and used that to make fringe. I measure fingertip-to-elbow and then cut that in half. I pull it halfway through the shawl edge with a crochet hook and then tie the two sides together in a simple knot. If the yarn is variegated, I try to use several different colors of ribbon--otherwise I use about 4 lengths of just one color that coordinates.

Shawl Tip: "If the person receiving the shawl has (or has had) breast cancer, do the card in pink with a pink ribbon.

Knitting Tip: When casting on: go up a size on the needle. This will give you a looser binding edge. For example: If you are using size: 11 needles for the body of your work - then cast on using size: 13 needles (for the first row only).

Knitting Tip: To give the outside edge of your shawl a more even and finished look: slip the first stitch of every row onto your needle (this means without adding a knit or purl). Continue knitting and purling to the end of the row. (Note: it is not necessary to add extra stitches to the pattern. Simply put - the first stitched that you slip off will become your "last" stitch on the next row. It is this "last" stitch that you need to be concerned with. Make sure that it receives either a 'knit' or 'purl' stitch - depending on the pattern.)

Crochet Tip: "After reading over the directions, I tried using a half double crochet stitch and I am very pleased with the results. The half double incorporated the trinity idea, using three loops per stitch. I share this with you because it makes a lovely shawl and is quite warm."

Crochet Tip [pattern]: I use a size 'N' hook and three super-size skeins of yarn. I chain 54 stitches to start. Then I chain one, and turn it. I single crochet one row, chain two, turn. Then I do 3 rows of the half double crochet. (chain 2 after the half double rows). For the single rows, I chain one before I do the single row.

Crochet Pattern: Another crochet pattern I have tried which works nicely and incorporates the pattern of three is to do 3 rows of single crochet alternating with 3 rows of double crochet. Finishing the sides and ends with a row of single or half double crochet is a nice finish.

Fringe Tip: "My fringe (even when knotted) seems to "melt" and lose form. I'm using 57 stitches with a garter stitch, and for the first AND last 3 or 4 inches I'm knitting the yarn together with a coordinating or contrasting "fun-fur". Then I don't use the fringe. This gives a very attractive edge on both ends, and makes a very tailored wrap. I'll probably knit the shawl for a little longer length to make up for the absence of fringe."

Fur Fringe Tip: You can knit on the fringe. Cast on 63 sts. Complete one row of the Fur Stitch. Complete the body of the shawl. Work one row of the Fur Stitch. Bind off. Weave in the ends.

Pattern for Knitted in fringe: The fur stitch Row 1 (RS): K1, *K1 but do not drop st off left needle, bring yarn forward between needles to make the fringe (you may wind over a piece of cardboard for fringe of a uniform length), take yarn between needles to the back and K in the same st again, pass the first stitch over the second and drop it off the left needle*. Repeat *.* on remaining 60 sts, K1.

Tassel Tip: I found that the certain yarns fray terribly. Even knotting the ends didn't help too much. So I put on the tassels and then washed the whole shawl in the gentle cycle. I then put the shawl on towels and let it air-dry. By the time the shawl was almost dry, the tassels looked awful, as you can imagine, all frayed and tangled. I then took a wide-tooth comb and began to gently comb each tassel. After that, I took a little bit finer comb and repeated combing each tassel. Then I trimmed all the tassels to even out the ends. The result is an "evenly frayed" tassel that looks similar to a horse's tail. It looks pretty and eliminates the worry about how long before the tassel will fray."

Fringe Tip: One of the ladies in my group at church came up with a great idea for fringe for the fraying yarn. To avoid it she took her knitted shawl and crocheted chained loops across the bottom of each end. She would single crochet in the shawl and then she would chain about 25 and then single crochet in the shawl again all the way across. She then blocked them to make them lie flat. It made a nice fringe without all the fraying.

Crochet Edge Tip: I didn't put fringe on the shawl, as I was concerned that it might be in the way, or might get caught in her wheelchair. When I got to the end of the shawl, I finished the edge with "reverse " crochet, working left to right, on both ends of the shawl. It gave a nice finish, and it will not curl later.

Crochet Beads to the edge of a shawl: To add beads on the end of a shawl, use a smaller crochet hook. Place the bead on the hook and 'single crochet' the bead into the edge of the shawl.

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By Lee Goldberg

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