Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sit and Knit & Crochet at the Prayer Shawl Ministry at Washington Hospital Center Cancer Center

I have been knitting up a blue streak this summer as quiet as it's been kept. My freelance writing practice has really taken off, so I've been doing a lot of writing for clients and not enough for my own blogs.

But one thing that helps to keep me sane and centered is knitting prayer shawls for the Cancer Center at the Washington Hospital Center. We gather on the fourth Monday of each month and knit (actually, there are more crocheters than knitters in our group) prayer shawls to give to the women and men who are cancer patients at the hospital. I think it's been almost a year since I joined this group, and it has been a wonderfully rewarding experience for me.

Each month I knit a shawl to be donated to one of the cancer patients. We don't really get a chance to meet these people, so we are knitting anonymous gifts to bless people we don't know and most likely will never meet. As we knit or crochet the shawls we hold the recipient in prayer, and so the making of the shawl becomes not unlike a devotional in and of itself. As I knit each stitch I might silently repeat a mantra or whisper a prayer or just focus on feeling good so that the resulting shawl will be imbued with positive, healing, uplifting energy.

At each meeting as the shawls are given, they are blessed with a special prayer. I really enjoy going to the meetings because I enjoy the fellowship with the other women and because it is a time in my life where I set aside all of my other obligations and focus on this simple offering.

We work with yarn that gets donated by lots of generous crafts women, and for the most part we get acrylic and other man-made fiber yarns to create our shawls with. Being the unabashed yarn snob that I am, it has been challenging for me to work with these yarns. Well, a few months back we got a generous donation of some really nice, natural fiber yarns. I found a big bag of Rowan DK weight yarn in a soft, olive green. I grabbed it up and knit the Woodland Shawl http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/woodland-shawl on size 9US needles, and then instead of putting a fringe on it, I added single leaves coming out of an I-cord, as found in Nicky Epstein's, Knitting on the Edge: Ribs*Ruffles*Lace*Fringes*Flora*Points & Picots

Chris Vinh, the group's organizer, snapped this photo at the meeting:

With the leftover yarn I knit up a Damson shawl, which, when knit with fingering weight yarn works up to be a shoulderette shawl, came out to be a full sized shawl because I used the DK weight and size 9US needles. I think it looked spectacular, but it did not get as big a reaction as the Woodland Shawl. That shawl came out quite nice.

So, if you are a DC Metro area knitter and you are free on the fourth Monday of the month from noon-2pm, come join us at the Prayer Shawl Ministry. I get far more than I give from attending this ministry.