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Life Changing Yarn (Part 1)

Updated: Jun 20

Story by Laurie Grathen


I don’t remember when or how I learned to knit and crochet. I do remember enjoying both though and being fascinated by (as Randy describes) being able to turn one big, long string into so many different interesting, colorful, and useful things.


This is not the actual afghan, but is similar. Ours had a lot more orange in the squares.

I also remember being quite prolific at creating needlework projects in our early marriage years. I made baby items, a sweater or two, potholders, hats, afghans, and one particularly ugly (and unbelievably heavy) granny square blanket. It was orange and brown and gold and I think it lived as our master bedroom bedspread for a time in the first house that we bought as a married couple. We were so proud when we repainted that bedroom brown and orange and hung wallpaper with huge, hideous flowers on one wall. In retrospect, I’m surprised we don’t have PTSD from sleeping in that repulsively decorated room. But I digress.


Randy and I moved 14 times in the first 22 years of our marriage, we were in the Air Force, and that ridiculous afghan moved right along with us. It wasn’t until we were cleaning up after the tornado (yes, that dang afghan was one of the few things that survived) that I finally decided someone else might need a warm, heavy afghan in their life, regardless how ugly it was. So I donated it. To be fair, there were people who, over the years, commented positively about that afghan. I politely thanked them, and never gave another thought to whether or not they were just being nice, or if in some twisted way they really did think it was worth the effort I put into it.


Somewhere along the way, probably when we moved to Guam (1979), I stopped knitting and crocheting. It’s hot on Guam and sitting around with a bulky yarn project on your lap really triggers your inner furnace. Living in California for 12 years after Guam was no better and it never occurred to me to pick up knitting needles, crochet hooks, and yarn again.


Then, in 2013, long after we’d moved to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, Randy’s brother died. Randy’s mom (Carole) was attending the church we were also going to and a kind woman who ran a prayer shawl ministry gifted her with a beautiful wrap around shawl. For those of you who don’t know anything about a prayer shawl ministry, here’s the scoop. As a prayer shawl is being made, the maker prays for the person who will eventually get the prayer shawl. Occasionally the maker knows in advance who the shawl will go to, but more often they do not. They don’t know the circumstances for which the shawl will be gifted, or anything about the situation or life of the giftee. Makers of the prayer shawls trust that God will lead them in praying and give them insight into what to pray for as they are making a particular shawl.

Carole was so touched and comforted by her prayer shawl after her son’s death that it made a huge impact on me. I contacted the woman who ran the ministry, told her that I’d knitted and crocheted years ago, and asked if I could make prayer shawls for the ministry. She agreed, instructed me in the creation of basic knitted prayer shawls (a 20” x 60” knitted rectangle of knit garter stitch, Lion Brand Homespun yarn, fringe optional) and guided me through the process of becoming a prayer shawl ministry warrior. I thought, at the time, that I would be content only just knitting basic shawls and praying while I made them. Because garter stitch is just endless knitting row after row, it’s mindless. The physical knitting requires no mental effort, so I was able to focus my mental energy on the praying part of the process. I thought, at the time, that knitting is a good way to be more productive while watching TV or listening to podcasts and increase my involvement in ministry service. At the time I thought I had no interest at all in crochet. In my mind, crochet was irrevocably tied to memories of granny squares that grew into hideous afghans.

Oh Lord, I was so wrong about what I thought at the time.


The Homespun Yarn for those simple, early, basic prayer shawls came in many beautiful, variegated colors, and it was fun to watch the shawls grow. The first shawl I made, of mixed Pastel colors called Mimosa (still one of my favorite yarns colors) went to a woman with Stage IV liver cancer. The second, in colors called Wildfire, to a woman enduring an abusive relationship.

But that third shawl I made, in a color called Tudor, was life changing for me.


But this is getting so long that I’ve need to reveal this story in installments. Watch for next week’s post for the details of why that third shawl was life changing.

P.S. Everyone who knits and/or crochets has a stash. And that’s a story in itself because more often than not, it turns into addiction. That’s also a part of the Life Changing Yarn story. Stay tuned.


For more stories from Our High Places, click here


To read more of Laurie's stories and observations about life go to 68 and Counting click here


- NOTE -

If you would like to get involved in the Prayer Shawl Ministry

in the Camdenton/Osage Beach area, or want to start one in

your area, contact Kristina Webb at Flocks LLC click here

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