If you’ve been around NFC for a while, you might be familiar with Duduza dolls and prayer shawls. These handcrafted items have brought love and hope to people of all ages, both in our community and around the world. But as I sat down with a few of the needlework ministry members, I was struck with a deeper realization— that although these ladies create things of beauty and blessing, what they have at the core is a story of friendship.
Around 2003, Naomi Wilson and a few of her girlfriends began to meet together to help her knit a sweater. More and more women joined the group. Over time, the home where they meet has changed and people come and go, but they keep some long standing traditions such as always having M&Ms on hand! The ladies come from NFC and all over the community to practice their knitting and crochet skills, work on their own projects, and enjoy a time of fellowship.
In 2008, Carol Sherwood attended a Parish nursing conference in New Jersey that described the concept of prayer shawls. Not a knitter, Carol came back to Oregon with a desire to learn how to knit so she could begin making these shawls. She was correct in believing people might be comforted with the warm embrace of a shawl, knit with soft yarn and lots of prayers. But first—learn how to knit!
Carol met up with Margene Haworth, teacher extraordinaire, and Ann Howe, who by this time was the host of the weekly knitting group. Several of the women were intrigued with the idea of prayer shawls, and as Carol learned to knit, others with more experience began knitting shawls as well. One woman in the group who attends a church in Portland has become a steady provider of prayer shawls for NFC. The shawls are sometimes created with a certain person in mind and always made with love for whoever will receive it. As the
ministry progressed, Ann wondered if men would prefer a lap blanket to a shawl and took it upon herself to make sure NFC also has a good supply of blankets ready and waiting. More than 100 shawls and blankets have been crafted and distributed, each one made with prayer, time, energy, and about 3 skeins of yarn. Gratefully, much of the Homespun Lyon’s brand yarn has been donated by friends. Members of the NFC congregation and/or staff lovingly give out the shawls and blankets to those who are hurting, ill, or in need of hope.
Several years ago, Paula Benham first brought Duduza dolls to the attention of the group. These dolls use up lots of scrap yarn and provide a cuddly addition to the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes each year. It takes a whole team of needle workers, beginning in September, to knit or crochet the dolls, others to stuff and sew them closed, and a few who specialize in hand stitching the faces onto each doll.
The friendship and gifts these needle workers generate seems limitless. They’ve also made chemo caps and created warm hats for preschoolers and Love INC., all while continuing to craft their own projects right along with the many hours devoted to the dolls and shawls. Sometimes their personal work gets put on the “back burner” while they help each other learn new patterns and techniques, but you won’t find a complaint among them.
Ann’s door is open each Monday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. to anyone who loves needlework or would like to learn to knit or crochet. If you’d like to contribute in any way to the prayer shawl/blanket ministry or create a Duduza doll but can’t attend on Mondays, contact the NFC office. We can help you get connected and pass along your donations of yarn or a completed project.