Prayer Shawls for Families of Servicemembers

Dedicated to providing prayer shawls for families of fallen service personnel.

Prayer Shawl Directions

Prayer Shawl Directions:

If you are not entirely familiar with how to make a prayer shawl, please check out the Prayer Shawl Ministry website   for the original knitted and crochet Prayer Shawl patterns and the ministry’s origins.  It does not matter whether you prefer to knit, crochet, or sew a lap quilt, the idea is to give a hand-made garment to surround one with your blessings and love!

Finished size of shawl should be between 26″- 30″ wide x 60″ in length (not including fringe).  This may take 2 1/2 – 3 skeins of chunky (bulky) yarn.  (170 g net weight, 166.5 m each)  Or, you may use double strands of seven 6-oz skeins sport weight yarn using size 10 1/2 needles.

Begin :  Using double strands of sport weight, and a 10 1/2 needle, cast on stitches in odd-divisible multiples of three – (81 or 87 sts).  The seed (moss, rice) stitch is used throughout pattern.   i.e., as the stitches face you, knit the purl stitches, and purl the knit stitches.

    • Row 1:  k3, p3, to end, turn.
    • Continue as Row 1 until garment measures 60 inches long. 

Fringe : For fringe, plan using about 1/2 skein. Fringe can be an integral part of the prayer shawl.  Joan Johnson, coordinator of St Luke’s Knitting Ministry in Bloomington, Minnesota, tells me they tie each fringe to avoid fraying. While tying fringe, a knitter/crocheter prays for the recipient of the finished shawl.  Recipients of the shawls often comment how much they like the fringe.  Some have remarked they use the knots for praying – like prayer beads!  Thus, the fringe becomes an essential part of the shawl ministry.  My personal favorite fringe ties three long strands (16″ long making 8″ strands) on every other row, skipping the rows in between.  (see photos below of Janie Lester’s prayer shawls which use this technique).  

Finishing Ideas

Attach a Card:  Using a small piece of matching yarn, attach a card to the shawl.  Many of the church-based prayer shawl groups have their own card.  It should include washing instructions from the yarn band.   ( My card states: “This shawl may be washed/dried in gentle cycles.”)  Include your name and address so the family may thank you IF they feel the need, but please do not expect a thank you.  These families are grieving and may not be able to bring themselves to write a note.  Just know in your heart they do appreciate the time and love you have given to remember their loved one.

Below is a sample of a card I’ve used in the past for a yellow prayer shawl.  You may or may not want to share personal information as I have.
To the family of (soldier’s name):

I send you this prayer shawl hoping it will wrap you in the bright yellow sunshine of love and warmth of (name’s) memories.  May you feel (name’s) presence and gain strength from it.  It was designed specifically with you in mind to give you peace, nourish your strength, and feed your soul.

I add my name, address, and the website addresss (so they may write a thank you note if they choose).

POETRY:      If you’d like to recite a poem while knitting/crocheting your prayer shawl, below is a lovely poem:

Knitting and Weaving Prayers

I place my hands in yours, Lord,

I place my hands in yours

I place my will in yours, Lord;

I place my will in yours

I place my days in yours, Lord;

I place my days in yours

I place my thoughts in yours, Lord;

I place my thoughts in yours

I place my heart in yours, Lord;

I place my heart in yours.

I place my life in yours, Lord,

      I place my life in yours.
I give my hands to our, Lord;

I give my hands to you.

I offer the work I do, Lord;

I offer the work I do.

I give my thoughts to you, Lord;

I give my thoughts to you.

I give my plans to you, Lord;

I give my plans to you.

Give your hands to me, Lord,

Give your hands to me.

Let your love set me free, Lord,

Let your love set me Free.

David Adam



Below are ideas and prayer shawl patterns shared by our prayer shawl groups:

 Cross Prayer Shawl Pattern

written and designed by Janie Lester 2006, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Boca Raton, Florida


St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Boca Raton, Florida , headed by Janie Lester, makes a gorgeous prayer shawl which includes a cross at one end.   For fringe, Janie’s pattern uses long triple strands, applying to EVERY OTHER STITCH on each end.  It leaves small spaces between each fringe and is prettier to the eye than ‘bunching’ them across.  (see photo below)  The strands of three also represent the Holy Trinity.  Either click below to print the pattern, or  you may contact Janie asking her to email you a copy: 

Below is a prayer shawl made from the above Cross Prayer Shawl pattern, but the fringe is tied on each width end as a new color is begun.  This prayer shawl is called “Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors ” as it uses yarn from various other prayer shawls sent to military families in this ministry.  It uses sport weight yarn, double stranded.


Flag Prayer Cloth Pattern

written and designed by Janie Lester 4/2006, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Boca Raton, Florida

To Print Directions, click below:

Print Directions

PrayerCloth-Janie Lester


Dover Gold Star Prayer Shawl

Designed by Cheryl Scallon,St. Julie Billiart Shawl Ministry, Tinley Park, IL

Below are directions for either knit or crocheted patterns.  

Print Knit Directions Print Crochet Directions

Dover Gold star prayer shawl 

Meaning of the Gold Service Star

The Service Flag is an official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities the United States may be engaged in for the duration of such hostilities.   The history of the Service Flag is as patriotic and touching as the symbolism each star represents to the families that display them.

The service flag (also known as “blue star banners” or “son-in-service flags) was designed and patented by World War I Army Captain Robert L Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry who had two sons serving on the front line.  The flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service.  President Wilson became part of its history when, in 1918, he approved a suggestion made by the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenses that mothers who had lost a child serving in war to wear a gold gilt star on the traditional black mourning arm band.  This led to the tradition to cover the blue star with a gold star on the Service flag to indicate that the service member has died or been killed.  The color of the stars is also symbolic in that the blue star represents hope and pride, and the gold star represents sacrifice to the cause of liberty and freedom.   


 Stars & Stripes Crocheted Prayer Shawl

courtesy of “Annie’s Attic Crochet Love Stitches” Patterns, Page 36, Design by Barbara Roy

Made for Dover Air Base’s Program, by Martha Lynch, from Belmont Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia


Print Directions

Flag PS

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