On a cool December morning, a group of women gather in the church library with their bags of yarn and projects under way. Greetings are given, updates on family members exchanged. In a spirit of camaraderie and friendship, the needles fly over a delicate white baptismal blanket, a deep purple prayer shawl, a hat for an ill son. This is the prayer shawl group, who meet twice a month.
This ministry began some 8 years ago, when Marianna Sherman learned of a prayer shawl group which met in Hilton Head, where she was visiting. Given her own love of knitting, she was intrigued. She found other interested knitters, and the group began. Since then, the project has grown to include other ministries, with the common link of offering a handmade gift full of the love which connects one person to another. The items made are not only for those in our congregation, but also for friends in need, strangers in our community, and in fact, unknown people around the world.
A repairman visited the home of one of the knitters, Fran Schiel, and a short visit turned into a long discussion of faith, and love, and hope, as she explained what she was working on. The visitor, with an autistic son, asked her whether she could make him a shawl, that he would pay her for it. She said, of course she would knit one for him, but that she would accept no payment.
Another prayer shawl went to a family member who was deep in the throes of depression, unable or unwilling to talk to anyone in her family. When she received the shawl, she called her grandmother, who had knitted it for her, and said “Granny, I’ve wrapped it around me and I can feel your love.” She started to pull herself out of her darkness, and is now married with two children. Some time later she called again, and said “I have a friend whose husband is dying of cancer. Could you make a shawl for her?” “Of course” was the answer.
Ann DeFeo was asked by a grandchild, “Why do you knit for people you don’t know?” She answered, “I knit for people who don’t have grandmas to knit for them.”
The group also works with Project Linus to provide blankets to children in need. Some go to hospitals, for children who are ill. Some go to police departments, to provide a measure of comfort to traumatized kids. Some, knitted in red, white, and blue, go to the children of fallen military, attending TAPS camps. Some go to Planned Parenthood, to give to a mother who carries her child using a towel as a baby blanket, because that is all she has. Some go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where sadly, sometimes that blanket is the only thing a grieving parent brings home from the hospital. Project Linus picks up items twice a year from the group; most recently 83 blankets were donated.
The group keeps a scrapbook of all the notes they have received over the years, telling of what the knitted gifts have meant to the recipient. Marianna says that each time she receives a note she thinks “I have to knit more!” This ministry is a place where the love is personal, even if the person receiving the gift is unknown.
If you would like to join in this ministry, just check the calendar for the meeting times (generally two Wednesdays a month). Some people knit for the ministry on their own time, but don’t attend the meetings. And donations of yarn are always appreciated.