Comfort Shawls

The Comfort Shawl by Sandi Wiseheart. It's a free pattern!

My gramma passed away last week at 92 years old. She lived a wonderful, full life and she left me with so many nuggets of wisdom and words to live by, not the least of which is a recipe for the best margarita ever!

Whenever I asked her if she wanted me to knit something for her, she always asked for a scarf or a shawl. She and my mom once went to a yarn shop in Palm Springs, where Gramma lived, and my mom came home with yarn and a pattern for a shawl Gramma wanted, "whenever you get to it." I started right away!

My gramma wore shawls throughout her life, both knitted and woven. She often bought them as souvenirs on her travels. She moved up here to Spokane several years ago after my grampa died, and she was cold in the fall, winter, and spring! She always liked something to throw over her shoulders, and I loved to see her wearing my knitting up to the end of her life.

There's a type of knitted shawl called a prayer shawl (or comfort shawl) which is really neat.

A shawl can be an item of comfort, warmth, and a simple way to show you care. Prayer shawls can be knitted for anyone in need, no matter the season. The purpose of prayer shawls is for the knitter to pour compassion and well-wishes into every stitch, literally knitting goodwill into the shawl. Since the focus is to weave your thoughts into each stitch, rather than into complicated lace or cables, shawl knitting patterns are often simple, but beautiful

One of my favorite patterns is the Comfort Shawl by Sandi Wiseheart. I love how it sits so nicely on the shoulders. I should have knitted one of these for my gramma out of her favorite alpaca! But she really preferred stole-type shawls-just a wide, long rectangle, really.I actually think my mom would love the Comfort Shawl, so I'll dig out some alpaca and earmark it for her.

Prayer shawls are not just knitting-centric, either. You can crochet, weave, or felt a shawl with the same concepts in mind. But if I take up a new yarn-related hobby it will be weaving. My friend and colleague Annie Hartman Bakken was wearing a beautiful scarf one day and I asked her where she got it. Turns out she wove it in about two hours. She said she was thinking about adding weaving to her hobbies. This sounded like a great idea, especially for knitters that already have a stash of yarns. In many cases, the same knitting yarns your have can be used for weaving. Knitting will always be my first love, but adding weaving isn't a bad idea!

I'm a tableware nut and there are always wonderful napkin, table runner, and placemat ideas in our sister publication Handwoven. There are also so many beautiful shawls that would make fabulous comfort shawls, too. My local yarn store is a weaving specialty store, too, and I want to take a class. The question is, do I have room in my house for a loom? The answer is no, but I haven't let that stop me so far!

Handwoven is a wonderful magazine for fiber enthusiasts, so give it a try and subscribe today. And if you have someone in your life who's going through a difficult time, knit or weave them a comfort shawl so they can feel your love all the time!


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Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

13 thoughts on “Comfort Shawls

  1. Kathleen, I am so sorry to hear about your Gramma. What a joy to have had her in your life! For the last year or so, I’ve been making “hug” scarves for friends who suffer a loss. I started with Sally Melville’s “Shape It! Scarf” and have gone from there, depending on the yarn. I think about my friend as I knit and try to knit comforting thoughts right into the scarf.
    I hope that it helps them, I know that ithelps me.

  2. My condolences to you, Kathleen. What a nice story.

    I remember the first time I knit a prayer shawl (I used Ann Budd’s Grand Plan Capelet). I started out thinking my knitting was just for the recipient. It turns out the project became the most fulfilling prayer journey for me, too. Each stitch literally was knit in prayer. Not only did I feel helpful (at a time when you often feel most helpless to assist), but I was also filled with an immense sense of hope.

    Enjoy knitting that shawl for your mother, in honor of your grandmother!

  3. Thank you for this great post! Thanks for the insight on the origins/meanings of the prayer shawl. Also, the personal relation to your gramma was so sweet. I’m sorry for your loss… 🙂

  4. So sorry that you’ve lost your lovely gramma.

    I know what you mean about putting your good thoughts and wishes into every stitch. Hand made mitts and scarves are almost guaranteed to warmer, no?

  5. My condolences, Kathleen…and I am honoured that you chose this shawl in memory of such a special lady.

    I designed this shawl in memory of my spouse’s mother, who died of breast cancer in 1996, and in honour of a friend in Colorado who was fighting stage 4 breast cancer (she was the recipient of the original shawl in the photo). I’m very touched that so many knitters have used this pattern to help others through difficult times.

    Thanks everyone,
    Sandi Wiseheart

  6. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your beautiful grandmother, and happy you were blessed with so many years of love and memories with her.
    I did want to add that a ton of weaving can be accomplished with a very small loom, which might be the compromise for the time being at least. A small (like a ridged heddle) loom is also transportable, so good for a beginner who is taking classes. It is also less intimidating than a big loom, easier to warp, and quicker to set up and begin the fun part of actual weaving. The other advantage is price. For someone who is interested but doesn’t know if it will be a lifelong passion, it makes more sense to get a relatively inexpensive (there are even instructions online for building your own) loom, than investing in a floor loom initially. There are an infinite amount of projects that can be done on a table loom, it is a misconception to think you might run out of things to do on it, and have a need to graduate to something bigger.

  7. I’m sorry you lost your gramma. Those of us who had wonderful relationships with our grandmothers are so fortunate! My Mom and Grandma (her mom) were both knitters – my Mom taught me when I was so little, I just clicked the needles together then she knit a few rows for me after I went to bed. 🙂 My Grandma lived with us, and when I was still young, maybe 9 or 10, we knit together on Sunday afternoons, listening to the radio serials. Special memories!! We are the lucky ones. Thank you so much for these sweet patterns – I don’t usually knit anything bigger than doll clothes, but I think I’ll do these shawls, with those memories in mind. Take care 🙂

  8. I recently gave this shawl to a customer of mine, she is 103. She told her caregiver that every time she puts this shawl on, “It’s like a warm hug”. What a wonderful gift she gave me, with her comment.