Comfort Prayer Shawl Program

A comfort shawl or comfort lap blanket is created to bring solace and strength to those in need, whether due to illness, loss or bereavement or to help celebrate one of life's rights of passage. Made by loving hands, they are symbols of God's all-embracing love and comfort. Positive energy, prayers and good intentions directed toward the recipient are incorporated into these mantles as they are created.

Anyone facing one of life's transitions, whether it be a sad or joyous time, can benefit from being wrapped in love.

The Messenger Interfaith Prayer Center has over 60 volunteers – employees, family members and friends, who create these mantles and donate them to the Program.

How to Make a Shawl

These shawls should be treated in a respectful and reverent manner. While you are making them, please do not subject them to odors or fragrances (smoke, perfume, etc.). Be sure your hands are clean when you work on them and that they are stored in a dry, clean place.

  • Knitting: Needle size 13
  • Crochet: Size M
Amount and Brand of Yarn
  • 3 skeins for knitting

  • 4 skeins for crochet

  • Lion Brand – Homespun

  • Knot all ends of this yarn, as it ravels!

Knitting Pattern

Cast on 54 stitches. First row: k3, p3, to end. Second row: Always start the next row with the opposite stitch of what you see. For instance, if the first stitch on the needle is a knit, then start with a purl. KNIT THE PURLS AND PURL THE KNITS! It should not look like ribbing. Complete 2 skeins, before you start the third, cut the yarn for the tassels. Complete the third skein and bind off.

Crochet Pattern

Chain 54 stitches. Chain 1, turn, single crochet in each of the stitches to end. Chain 3 and turn. Double crochet in top of each single crochet. Repeat this row 2 more times.  Chain 1 and do 1 row of single crochet to end. Chain 3 and turn. Do 3 rows of double crochet. Repeat pattern to end (1 row single, 3 rows double). Complete 3 skeins, before you start the fourth, cut the yarn for the tassels. Complete the fourth skein and end with 1 row of single.


Knit/crochet until piece measures at least from wrist to wrist (approximately 57-58” long).

Tassel Instructions

Cut 76 pieces of yarn each 54” in length or you can wrap it around a 27” piece of cardboard or the arms of chairs, etc. and cut one end (be sure to knot all ends). Place the shawl on a flat surface with the binded edge facing you. Place a crochet hook down into the binded row, on the outside edge. Take 2 strands of yarn and line up the 4 cut ends together. Fold these in half to find the middle. Hook these 8 pieces of yarn to the crochet hook and pull them up through the binded edge of the shawl to form a loop. It is through this loop that you will insert the ends through. Pull the tassels to tighten up the connection between the shawl and the tassels. Look at the tassel ends; now there are two loops in the yarn that you'll need to cut in half, you should have a total of 8 separate strands. Once you have cut and knotted these, take the group of tassels and knot it over on its self, up near the binded edge to secure the tassels from releasing themselves and falling off.
Count over 3 stitches and add the next tassel and continue to the end.  When you have completed both edges, you should have 19 tassels on each side.

How to Map a Lap Blanket

Cast on or chain 87 stitches and complete as above, the shape will be closer to a square.


The Significance of Three's

We've all heard people say that “things happen in three's”.  In the Christian faith tradition, the number three, symbolized by the Trinity (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer), has come to mean wholeness.  It is said that the number 3 is used 523 times in Scripture.

Many phases of life happen in combinations of three: child/adult/senior, maiden/mother/crone, as well as past/present/future; and some people believe in the combination of birth/death/rebirth, or the 3 acts of existence birth/life/death/  We've all heard of the concept of body/mind/spirit, which encompasses the physical, mental and spiritual make up of a human being; and we have been encouraged to live and act in faith/hope/charity.

According to the Chinese, three is a perfect number.  It is also the sacred number of the women in Mayan.  Egyptians see it as the number of the cosmos.  From the Buddhist tradition, come “The Triple Gem” or “The Three Jewels,” which is the Buddha (the enlightened one), the Dhamma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community of followers).  In general; there are 3 primary colors with which it is possible to obtain all the colors; there are 3 keys of music: sol, F, and C; the three divine principles: light, heat, and life; three types of universe: matter, astral (mental or soul) and spirit; and the earth, sea, and sky of nature.

The 3-stitch seed pattern was selected as symbolic of planting peace, healing, love, comfort and hope.

Color Symbolism

This is a basic list of colors and some of the attributes associated with them.  It might be helpful to use it as a guideline when you're selecting a color for your shawl.

RED – love, strength, warmth, energy, vigor, courage
PINK – compassion, sensitivity, warm-heartedness, nurturing
ORANGE – vitality, strength
YELLOW – optimism, well-being
GREEN – healing, hope, renewal, confidence, life
AQUA – courage
BLUE – healing, meditation, tranquility, spirituality
INDIGO – spiritual nature
VIOLET – spirituality, comfort during grief or mourning
PURPLE – spirituality,
BEIGE – optimism
WHITE – protection, peace, purity

Beginning to Knit Dedication

(adapted from

(You may want to light a candle for this prayer)

Mantle of Love, Healer of Hearts,

As we begin, we ask a blessing from all who have come before us;
whose hands have been instruments of creation and beauty;
who have used humble tools and hand-spun wool in order to provide cover and warmth
for themselves and those they loved;
who have felt, as we will feel, the yarn in their fingers;
who have seen, as we will see, the growth of the fabric;
who have heard, as we will hear, the click of the needles.

Guide our attention to stay on course.
Hold us close and ground us.
Bless, also, this yarn and these knitting needles.
May any negative energy connected to them be cast away as we cast on;
and all positive energy bound in as we bind off.
In their simplicity, may we find comfort and solace.

Bless our hands...
often just appendages at the end of our arms...
workers doing their job without appreciation...looked at, yet not really seen.
These instruments of love have done mundane tasks, yet also create beauty,
they reach out, touch, stroke, scrub, lift, grasp, gestures and guide.
These hands, our hands, gifts of great importance,
blessing be on them and in them as we begin.
May the fruits of their labor be good!



The Messenger Interfaith Prayer Center has over 60 volunteers - employees, family members and friends, who create these mantles and donate them to the Program. If you would like to participate in this program please contact us:

Comfort Shawl Program
Level 1M
St. Vincent's Medical Center
2800 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06606

Comfort Shawl Program Current Sponsors

Dale Danowski 
Jean Petrucelli
Michelle Woodward
Regina Maloney
Gloria Devietro
Tyree Vincent
Mark Dobson