How to Knit a Very Easy Prayer Shawl for Beginners

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Prayer shawls, also called comfort shawls, are usually made as gifts and given to people going through a tough time or as a devotional practice. Not to be confused with the Jewish tallit, prayer shawls can be any size or shape, though tradition suggests that they should be long enough to wrap around the wearer's shoulders at least once. A distinct part of making a prayer shawl is the act of meditation undertaken on a specific topic while knitting one.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-3 skeins worsted weight yarn (6 ounces, around 600 yards)
  • 2 skeins Red Heart yarn (optional)
  • Size 8 circular needles, 47-inches long
  • 4 stitch markers
  • Tapestry needle

Design Notes A basic garter stitch triangle shawl pattern with an i-cord edge measures approximately 60 inches from tip to tip. You need to know how to knit yarn-over and slip a stitch. Don't let the "i-cord edge" intimidate you -- it's a very easy trick that gives you a very pretty smooth edge.

Legend CO - cast on k - knit sl - slip yo - yarn-over pm - place marker sm - slip marker

Foundation Rows CO 12 stitches by any method you choose.

Start row: k3, pm, k2, pm, k2, pm, k2, pm, k1, with yarn in front, sl2 Next row: Knit across to last two stitches, with yarn in front, sl2

The pattern for the body of the shawl begins as follows:

R1: k3, sm, yo, k2, yo, sm, k2, sm, yo, k2, yo, k1, with yarn in front sl2 (16 st) R2: knit across to last two stitches (k14), with yarn in front sl2 R3: k3, sm, yo, k4, yo, sm, k2, sm, yo, k4, yo, k1, with yarn in front sl2 (20 st) R4: knit across to last two stitches (k18), with yarn in front sl2 R5: k3, sm, yo, k6, yo, sm, k2, sm, yo, k6, yo, k1, with yarn in front sl2 (24 st) R6, knit across to last two stitches (k22), with yarn in front sl2

Repeat this pattern, with four stitches increasing every two rows, until you reach your desired width.

To describe the pattern a slightly different way, the stitch markers border the two increase sections, and on the odd rows, you're increasing this with yarn-overs at the beginning and end of each section. The result is four new stitches for every two rows -- an odd numbered row and an even numbered row. This creates a drastic increase and a classic triangle pattern.

The i-cord edges and the "spine" that runs down the middle are not increased, and they help define the shape.

Prepare to bind off when you've completed an even-numbered row.

To bind off: k1, yo, k1, pass both the yarn-over and the first knit stitch over to the left of the second full knit stitch. Then, yo, k1, and pass the yarn-over and the first remaining stitch over the left of the new stitch. Repeat to the end. Weave in ends.

Optional Fringe To add a fringe to the shawl, you'll need:

  • Approximately 100 yards of yarn same weight as the shawl
  • Scissors
  • Size I or J (9 or 10) crochet hook

Cut the yarn to 6-inch lengths and fold in half. With the crochet hook, pull the yarn piece through about an inch and then pull the two ends of the yarn through that loop. Pull to snug. Once you have all of the piece of fringe established, brush them gently in one direction and use a straight edge to trim them to the same length.

Tips & Warnings

  • **Choosing Your Yarn**
  • * A comfort shawl should have a bit of weight to it, so use a worsted weight wool/rayon blend or similar yarn with a heavy body to it.
  • * The occasion for which the shawl is being knitted can help determine your colors. In general, neutral colors such as cream, tan, and white are more appropriate.
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