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How to Knit a Pocket Prayer Cloth with Love

A free knitting pattern to create a pocket prayer cloth, perfect for offering tangible and portable prayers

Pocket prayer cloth knitting pattern

Ever hear from a far-flung friend or family member going through a hard time and wished you could give them a hug? That feeling of helplessness can be a heavy burden.

Prayer shawls have traditionally been knitting and crochet’s answer to this struggle.

When we take the time to create a shawl, praying over it and infusing it with all our love and healing thoughts, it offers such a comfort to the person who receives it. To the person who knits it, it offers a respite from the burden.

I actually knitted just such a comfort idea for a friend a few years ago. I think it helped me almost as much as it helped her.

However, prayer shawls do have issues.

First and foremost, of course, they take a long time to make. Even if you use bulky yarn and a simple pattern, they can take anywhere from a week to a month to knit. And that’s if you have lots of free time to knit!

The second issue is that not everyone loves to wear shawls. Men, of course, do not often wear shawls. And some women don’t wear them either.

Finally, a third issue is that even people who enjoy wearing shawls probably won’t want to wear them all the time. On hot days, for instance, shawls don’t usually wear well!

These are reasons why pocket prayer cloths have become popular.

Quick Crafting with Love

A few years ago, Lion Brand published a blog post about “Pocket Prayer Shawls.” In essence, this is a more portable form of the traditional prayer shawl. You can read the post here.

For the person in the midst of a difficult struggle, the benefits of pocket prayer cloths over traditional prayer shawls include:

  • more comfort for someone who doesn’t always (or ever) wear shawls
  • the ability to tuck a comfort item unobtrusively in one’s pocket

I remember when I first found this post. It includes a pattern, and I eagerly clicked the link in the post to see the pattern.

And my heart sunk. It was a crochet pattern.

(I’ve gotten better since then, but I’m still not the most accomplished crocheter!)

But then I realized that I could easily do the same thing with knitting. And so, after reading a few articles on how to knit bobbles (never done it before, but it’s really quite easy!), I created my first-ever knitting pattern.

Many thanks to Southern Belle Crochet for the inspiration for the Pocket Prayer Cloth Knitting Pattern!

pockeet prayer cloth

Want a customizable template for offering thoughts and prayers with your prayer shawls or cloths? You can find one here!

Pocket Prayer Cloth: The Pattern

This pocket prayer cloth pattern comes in two sizes, small and large. The large size is about the size of a traditional crocheted granny square; the small is about half that size.

I created the small one first, then felt like it was a little *too* small and enlarged it. But then I realized a smaller size could have its uses too; it could be given to a child, for instance.

Materials needed:

Small amount of yarn, anywhere from fingering to worsted weight. If you use fingering weight I’d advise you to stick with the large size, as it would likely make the small version of the pocket prayer cloth about the size of a postage stamp!

If you knit it all in one color, you may want to stick with bright colors. You can see in the photo above that the dark purple doesn’t really let the cross design stand out, whereas it’s much clearer in the turquoise.

(Knitting in two colors removes this issue, of course! See the end of the pattern for tips on knitting bobbles in a different color.)

A pair of needles, preferably metal with pointy tips (better for making bobbles), in size appropriate for yarn weight.

Any gauge will work with this pattern. No need to knit a swatch!

This pattern comes in two sizes, small and large. Numbers and directions in parentheses refer only to the large size.

Note: I updated this pattern in February 2020 to make the row notation a little clearer.

Bobble stitch pattern:

Knit forward & backward, then knit 1, all in the same stitch, for a total of 3 stitches.

Turn work; purl 3 stitches.

Turn work; knit 3 stitches.

DO NOT turn work; on your right needle, working from left to right, slip the rightmost two stitches, one at a time, over the first stitch on the left.

Knit the rest of the row.

Follow these instructions every time you see “make bobble” in pattern.

Note: you may want to knit through the back loop of the next stitch you come to after making the bobble, and on the next purl row, you may also want to purl through the back loop of the next stitch after the bobble. This helps to tighten the fabric around the bobble.

Pattern instructions:

CO 15 (21) stitches.

Knit 3 rows.

Row 4: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3.

Row 5: Knit.

Row 6: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3.

Row 7: K3, K4 (7), make bobble, K4 (7), K3.

Row 8: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3.

(Row 9 & 10): Repeat rows 7 & 8 (for large size only).

Row 9 (11): K6, *make bobble, K1*, make bobble, (repeat instructions between the ** 3 more times for large size only), K6.

Row 10 (12): K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3.

Row 11 to 14 (13 to 16): Repeat rows 7 & 8 twice more.

(Row 17 to 18): Repeat rows 7 & 8 one additional time (for large size only).

Row 15 (19): Knit.

Row 16 (20): K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3.

Row 17 (21): Knit.

Knit 3 rows.

Bind off, then break yarn.

Weave in ends, then block.

Blocking is a necessity for this pattern because it helps the bobbles pop. It also helps smooth out the edges and make a nice, neat cloth. I steam block, which I highly recommend if you’re using acrylic yarn. If you’re using wool or cotton, you can wet block if you prefer.

(I don’t recommend using cotton yarn for this pattern because of the bobbles, but if you have strong hands and determination, I won’t stop you!)

Variations

Instead of knitting every stitch and row for the border, try seed stitch instead. I’ve started doing this myself, and it looks even nicer in my opinion.

Seed stitch: (K1, P1), repeat to the end. You’ll end on K1.

Pocket prayer cloth - patriotic

For the edge stitches, you’ll begin and end every row with (K1, P1, K1).

Try knitting the bobbles in a different color than the background! To do this most effectively, purl a stitch in the color of your choice in the row before, where you’ll place the bobble. Then when you come to the bobble, you’ll knit with that color yarn, and continue the rest of the cloth in your background yarn. (The photo to the right shows how beautiful this can look!)

Here’s a video I made to demonstrate a trick to making the bobbles a different color.

Now, no matter who you know that’s hurting, you’ll have a way to show them how much you care!

This pattern is included in my free eBooklet, “4 Quick Charity Knitting Wins.” Subscribe to my Knitting Nuggets Newsletter by clicking the button below, and you’ll get this eBooklet free!

Want more free knitting patterns for charity? Click here for your copy of “4 Quick Charity Knitting Wins” and start making a difference today!

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21 Comments

    1. If you’re referring to this particular pattern, there’s a link in this post to a crochet pattern created by Southern Belle Crochet. You can also find it here.

  1. Nicole,
    I love to knit and crochet things for other people. However, I am not Christian. My religious preference has stopped some churchs and groups from accepting my made things. The love and caring in these things are the same as anyone else. Can you explain the reasoning behind their actions?
    Thanks.

    1. I can’t, Patricia. I’m very sorry to hear that. All I can tell you is that some churches and groups that identify as “Christian” have completely forgotten that Jesus Himself regularly reached out to (and praised) those who were not the same religion as He was. I can’t condone that and never will.

  2. What little note would you include with the cloth when you give it to someone explaining what it is and what it’s purpose is? I also make prayer shawls but love this idea. Thanks.

    1. Hi Debbie! It just so happens that I recently sent a set of prayer cloths to a family who’d just lost a loved one. In the package, I included a note saying that I had created these prayer cloths as reminders of God’s constant presence and that they were being covered by prayer every day. (I also added that my prayer shawl group had all prayed over the cloths.)

      When I created prayer cloths last year for our church’s Blue Christmas service (this was a special service designed for folks who find traditional Christmas services difficult, due to tragedy and hard memories), I attached a little verse to each cloth. I don’t remember the exact verse, but I believe it read “God is near to the broken-hearted.” That was all. Apparently that was enough, because I’ve been asked to create more cloths for this year’s Blue Christmas service.

      I hope that helps. Great question!

  3. I still cannot get the rows 16 to 18 figured out
    Where does 16 come in on the large size?
    I am at 13 and do not know where to go from there

    1. If you’re on row 13 for the large size, that’s just repeating row 7. Row 14 is a repeat of row 8. I believe I made a mistake, though, as I think I mis-numbered it at the end. I’ve corrected the mistake; let me know if you’re still confused.

        1. Row 18 is within the directions that read “Repeat rows 7 & 8 twice more for small size; repeat 3 or 4 times more for large size.” In other words, within that direction, rows 13, 15, and 17 are repeats of Row 7, and rows 14, 16, and 18 are repeats of Row 8. I hope that makes sense!

  4. The pocket prayer cloth is a wonderful idea! Definitely going to make some of those to include with quilts that I make for the homeless. Such a lovely item!

  5. I love this pattern and have started making my first one for our church ministry. I’m a new knitter, so I have a question. In the pattern, it alternates between rows 13-19. However, it doesn’t list a row 16. What am I missing? Thanks again and God Bless!

    1. Hi Nancy, thanks for commenting. I’m glad you love the pattern! Row 16 (in the smaller size) is part of the “Knit 3 rows.” I didn’t list those rows specifically since you’ll bind off right afterwards. But basically the last three rows would be: Row 16-18, knit. Bind off.

      I hope that helps!

  6. Thank you very much for this idea. I am a member of Mothers’ Union and we have been knitting prayer shawls now for a few years. This is a super idea to make it more suitable for some people. Well done.

  7. My knitting & crochet group made these about 3 years ago to give to all the members in my church to start the New Year with God’s protection. We actually made a pocket and in the pocket they received a mini bible and a prayer card.