Gene Hanson Website


A Special Prayer Shawl

Crochet Monarch

My wife, Debbie, is part of a Prayer Shawl ministry so she knits/crochets prayer shawls that when complete are blessed by a priest and then given to someone with a health problem. Normally these are just turned into the ministry and given out as needed. Only occasionally does she pick the person. At the time of this story she'd completely exactly 82 of them so far, but number 82 is special because she knit it for me!

She asked me in October when I got my prostate cancer diagnosis that she wanted to knit me a prayer shawl and what colors would I want. I didn't have to think very hard about that and I said orange and black. She was immediately horrified by my choice because to her those are Halloween colors. In fact, I regularly get a similar reaction when I reveal my favorite color because it's orange. I can always tell when people are taken aback wondering, "That's a horrible color." But then I explain. Orange is the color of great sunsets and sunrises. The color of many flowers. The primary color of the autumn leaves. And the best: the color of some of my favorite butterflies. If you've thoroughly checked out my website you'll see lots of pictures of sunsets, wildflowers, and butterflies.

The color of nature's orange

Debbie didn't make the connection because although she knew orange was my favorite, the black made her think they were Halloween colors, especially because at the time Halloween was fairly near. All I had to say it was the colors of a monarch butterfly! Here's a couple of monarch pictures from my gallery here on this website:

But a simple prayer shawl was not going to suffice. She went online and found a monarch butterfly pattern she could crochet! She bought a pattern online that cost only $3.50, but the real cost of this would be the price of the necessary yarn. Oh, yeah, and then the labor as it would take her from first week in October before we left until January 10th to finish it.

Monarch Butterfly Pattern


Above is the pattern guide for the butterfly. It's completed by crocheting the individual squares in one of the 6 total colors: white, black, gray, dark gray, orange, and dark orange. The pattern is 110 X 104 squares so a total of 11,440 squares!

And here's what it looks like completed:

Monarch Butterfly Completed


It's also big: 7 X 7 feet! And it's not noticeable from the finished shawl, but it was knitted starting at the lower right hand corner. So the first row was just one square, then 2 squares, 3 squares, ... until it got to the maximum of 104 which was repeated 6 more times before going down. 103, 102, 101, ... so a total of 213 rows.

Monarch Butterfly in progess


Above is a work-in-progress shot not only showing the diagonal construction, but all the yarn. At maximum which is a lot of the construction, there were ten "skeins" of yarn attached at one time. You can't see one of the skeins because it's in Debbie's hand, but you can see the other nine lying on the floor. That's our cat, Portia, one of three cats!

So she started the project while we were still in WI and though she would have loved to be working on it during the drive down and the the return trip, you can see that was impractical working in the car. The photo above was taken while in AZ.

On Wednesday, January 11th, we drove into Milwaukee for an "Eat, Drink, and be Catholic" gathering and because we knew Father Timothy Kitzke would be presiding so the shawl was brought along and it was blessed by Kitzke.

A little over half way completed shawl.
A little over half way complete.
The cross is affixed when the prayer shawl is complete.
The cross.
Completed shawl on the screen porch giving an idea of the large size.
On the screen porch giving an idea of size.

The 2nd prayer shawl - easier version Debbie also decided to knit the prayer shawl I originally had in mind because she had more than enough yarn left over. This is really more practical because the butterfly one is so large. It was also For some unexplainable reason this was a lot less effort to complete. So this is going to be the blanket we will take back and forth from Arizona.

Here are two pages from the crochet instructions. The first gives an idea of the amount of yarn needed for the 11,440 squares while the second shows how you know what color comes next and how many squares. This is where I could help Debbie as I would say what's next and record the completion.