Monday, August 03, 2015

Shawls Are More Than A Wrap!

I recently was commissioned to create an Interfaith Prayer Shawl which was to be a retirement gift for the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches, USA. It was to be presented to him at the biennial Mission Summit held in Kansas City at the end of June.

After I'd agreed to the commission I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into! What was an interfaith prayer shawl?  What faiths to include? After all there are many all over the world. Had this been done before by someone? Could I find something on the internet to help?

The specifications were:

 1 -  represent the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity
 2 -  without specifically being a Tallit (Jewish Prayer Shawl), it could incorporate a few of the elements such as the Tzitzit
 3 -  Be a specially designed handwoven piece instead of a knitted shawl that the Prayer Shawl Ministry makes to give to people for whom they are praying.

This was to be a whole different thing made special for the occasion and the person for whom it was intended. Wow! Breathe! What a challenge! You can do this!

Where to start?

First I needed to discover if there was such thing as an Interfaith Prayer Shawl or if anyone had made one before. So I began my research. I found lots of Interfaith art work but nothing was wearable. After many hours of researching and not discovering anything, the question became "What was I going to do"? Panic, of course!!!

It occurred to me that I needed to remember what I, as a weaver, do best, Work With Color! (A "DUH" moment!)

Ok, got that! NOTE TO SELF: The colors will progress from the desert colors for the nomadic tribes of Judaism and Islam to the colors representing the majesty of God for all three faiths (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) to the blues and greens of Living Water representing Christianity. My palette was set after I looked to my shelves to see what yarns worked in the color way I wanted. Amazingly, I had all the colors I needed in my stock of Tencel. This would be a good weight for the shawl and when woven in a twill and plain weave structure allow the right amount of drape.  Here is the final palette, 12 colors in all including a gold metallic yarn.

You'll notice there are only 11 colors here.  I added one more to the dessert colors because I didn't think the colors were strong enough.  I had just ordered the color Sienna from my supplier. Turned out it was the perfect color addition. It is in the card wrapping below.

The next step was to figure out what else would make this a special prayer shawl. I wanted to somehow incorporate prayers into the weaving.  But how to do that? And what prayers? More research needed!

I'll leave it here for now and follow up with another blog post on what happened next. While you wait, here are a few pictures of putting the yarn on the loom to weave the sampler and choose the weft color.

Can't wait to show you what came next!


  1. This is so exciting. I can't wait to see the finished piece. God Bless you and your important work. Have a good day.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Denise. It was very exciting for me to create this work. I never would have done it if they hadn't asked me to do it. It was a growing, stretching, 3 months work! God's hand was certainly in it. Thank you for the blessing.

  2. This is a great project and you went about it beautifully. I would think that praying for the eventual owner while you weave (ala Prayer Shawls) would be appropriate. Can't wait to see what you did.

    1. This was such an exciting time for me to discover that I could translate a concept into cloth! Wait till you hear the rest of the story.