How cheap is your love?

On Thursday, I had a quick lunch with one of our yarn reps who was just on her way through town.  Over a salad, she told me a short story that has been lingering and festering in my head.  She was knitting a swatch while waiting in line at a Starbucks somewhere in a more urban environment.  A woman, also waiting in line, asked her what she was knitting and what the yarn was.  Our gal told the woman it was just a swatch of a new wool she had not worked with before.  The woman asked to fondle the swatch, commented on the softness and said she was in several prayer shawl circles.  “But,” she said, “of course we only use the really cheap acrylic for that.”


I love the idea of prayer shawls.  In fact, for most of my life I have knitted or crochet things with all my love for the recipient uppermost in my mind while I stitch.  Like many of you, I rarely knit for myself, and never for people I don’t like.  You really couldn’t pay me enough to make it worth my time, effort and, yes, intention.  I knit with deep feeling, and the process itself is so like a meditation, I find myself adding affirmations for myself and the recipient as I stitch.  And what is that but a prayer?  I love the idea of coming together as a group and adding our prayers together for the sake all those we love.    Even if those beloved recipients are strangers who will receive the shawls through a third party…like a hospital, or social service agency…rather than from our own loving hands, loving prayer is the basic principle.

I have also had times in my life when I was poor.  Yup, poor enough that I used the crappiest acrylic yarns rescued from yard sales and thrift stores to express my love in knitted or crocheted form.  There were indeed days when that was all I could afford.  I know how it is when things are tough, and we do what we can.  But if you’re going to go to the effort, and pour your hopes and prayers into something you intend to give as a gift of love, wouldn’t you use the best you could afford?  If you intend for the recipient to be comforted, perhaps even healed, by your prayerfully stitched article, wouldn’t you use something wonderful, even if it costs more?

And if you’re standing in line at Starbucks, I’m pretty sure you have at least enough discretionary income to upgrade from the cheapest acrylic to something a little more worthy of carrying prayers.  Am I the only one who thinks that when you use the cheapest acrylic as a matter of course in all your several prayer shawl circles, that makes the prayers themselves cheap?

I’d love some comments on this because I’d really like to know.  Am I just being a snob?  Do I seem to have a distorted idea of what prayer means?  Is there anybody out there who believes, as I do, that when you set out to express your love in fiber you give of your best or not at all?

Really.  I’m asking.

Written by mim


4 Comments on “How cheap is your love?

  1. Not a snob at all and I totally agree if you are at Starbucks you can afford better than cheap acrylic yarn. I’m with ya all the way!!

  2. You couldn’t pay me enough to knit with fiber that doesn’t feel good in my hands. Knitting is about time, love, patience, and dedication—we spend a lot of time with our projects. I want each project to feel good in my hands and heart and mind. Yes, all the way, a prayer shawl should nourish the senses a the soul of the recipient and creators!

  3. What an unpleasant unsolicited comment to receive from a stranger. It is as if she was assigning a worth to the recipient of such a shawl. Disturbing to say the least.

  4. I guess I have mixed feelings. In some respects I feel, yes you could be a yarn snob. If you’re making an heirloom quality anything for someone special in your life of course you want to use the best product for your particular project and at a price you can afford.
    I know so many who get into knitting by just wanting to do something nice for someone who is hurting only to enter a yarn shop and be chastised when they ask for Homespun, which is exactly what many prayer shawl patterns circulating and organized groups use. Many don’t know the difference or have an appreciation for the different types of yarn available nor can they justify the cost if their skill level doesn’t match the product they’re using.

    As far as worthiness to carry the prayers, neither the finest yarns or the cheapest acrylics can do that. Our prayers are lifted to God as we intercede for persons known but more often unknown to us. The end product of our time knitting is the witness that prayers were said or pondered which I feel touches the heart, not the shawl itself.

    Beware of being impressed by externals. Like with us, God uses the imperfect to deliver His flawless message. What we lack in perfection, God makes up for in Love. So be it with our knitting.

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