I know some people freak out when you start talking prayer or knitting, but I just checked out at the library, The Prayer Shawl Companion by Janet Bristow & Victoria A. Cole-Galo. The book talks about their prayer shawl ministry and is full of 38 knitted patterns.
You don’t have to pray to get their lovely shawl patterns and the spirit of giving doesn’t have to have any particular religious context. The book includes simple to complex patterns (mostly simple it appears to me, and I’m no sophisticated knitter). I like the fact the yarns are easily accessible, or at least in gauges or plys that are possible to find. They look like they would be simple enough to imagine a grandma, friend or stranger wrapped up and happy in one.
There are stories surrounding each shawl and how it helped someone with it’s warmth but you can skip that if you want and just knit away. There’s always going to be someone out there that could use a little knitted warmth.
I love Pablo Nerudo’s Ode to Socks.
Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.
Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
as learned men collect
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.
The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.
It reminds me that giving is good and socks (and shawls) are warm and welcome. Since I’ll never be able to get socks knitted I’ll try and settle for these lovely shawls. Even Christopher Hitchens couldn’t object to toasty toes and a warm cover.