A shrug comforts like a shawl but effortlessly stays on and we’ve been told is something appreciated by the moms receiving them. Please follow these guidelines when planning or starting a shrug for us. Our shrugs are simply large rectangles. You can follow our pattern or convert a favorite to accommodate our needs. Both knitted and crocheted patterns work. Keeping a uniform look will help our donations stand out – hopefully raising awareness for our mission and giving us the ability to sustain our project.
We do accept rectangular shaped shawls that fall into our dimension range. You can ship or deliver rectangular shaped shawls to us and, if you prefer, we will add laces for you to convert them into shrugs. At this point in our mission we are streamlining and looking for uniformity. Our unique shrugs help us stand out from other prayer shawl ministries.
So how do you start:
Decide on your stitch pattern and make a gauge swatch. In this example we used Major by Universal Yarns, a US13 knitting needle (which is larger than the recommended US10 but we wanted to create an airy drapey fabric) and a K3, P3 stitch pattern. We casted on and did a 9 inch swatch.
There were 24 stitches in the 9 inches. We want our shrug to be around 50 inches wide (wrist to wrist). 50” divided by 9” = 5.5. You’ll need to cast on 5.5 x 24 sts (132) to get a 50” shrug. You don’t need to be as exact with our shrugs as you would need to be when making a sweater.
If you have a favorite scarf pattern that measures 5” wide, multiply your stitches by 10 to get your 50” wide shrug. Or maybe a favorite baby blanket pattern that you can add or deduct a few stitches to achieve our recommended measurement range.
We deliberately work our shrugs from side to side (wrist to wrist) because it gives you flexibility if you run short on yarn. Its alot easier to add a different yarn working in this direction then working vertically. You can be creative, maybe add a fluffy yarn and it’ll look like a collar!
If you prefer straight knitting needles, you can cast on less stitches measuring 28-32″ and work your “fabric” until it measures 50-55″.
Choosing yarn is important. Our shrugs can be worn or used as throws. We are creating comfort items, most likely worn or used indoors. Lacey patterns and thin yarns won’t work. Neither will heavy, densely spun yarns or weighty fibers like bamboo and cotton. Rule of thumb, if the skein feels heavy in your hand, it’ll make a heavy shrug.
Loosely spun, lofty yarns work up quickly and make a warm fabric thats not too heavy. You can combine and work two or three yarns held together but remember the rule of thumb. If the skein is heavy in your hand, it’ll make a fabric thats too heavy to wear comfortably indoors as a shrug.
A finished fabric that measures approximately 50-55” wide makes a good width for a shrug. Almost as wide as a shawl making it cozy to wrap up in. Anything shorter fits more like 3/4” sleeved sweater. And a length of 28-32” will generously cover someone’s back when worn and makes an adequate width for a throw.
By lacing the “sleeves” of our shrugs closed, we give the moms receiving our gifts the option of wearing them or using them as throws. You can crochet a chain, use a piece of yarn or a pretty ribbon. We have been crocheting long chains (around 36”) and tying ncie big bows on our shrugs.
We recommend machine washable yarn, although our PDF notecards have handwash instructions printed on them as we believe handmade items deserve gentler care. There are many wonderful and affordable yarn options available in Michael’s, JoAnn, AC Moore and Hobby Lobby. We’ve had great success with Lion Brand Shawl in A Ball, Landscapes and Homespun, Red Heart Unforgettable and Loops and Threads Barcelona and Madrid. We love adding a little sparkle. Loops and Threads Payette and Vanna’s Glamour are fine yarns that don’t add weight but make shrugs shine. Remember, if you are using our pattern and US19 needles, you will be working with 2 or 3 strands held together. Make a test swatch, find your gauge and feel the fabric. You want lofty – not stretchy. Keep the pattern simple and have fun playing with color and texture. And please, ask us questions and follow us on Facebook. We typically share ideas there.
Finally, please print out our notecards, preferably on cardstock, and write a message for the mom receiving your gift. Something simple like “Handmade for you with love and prayers in every stitch. Stay Strong.” Add your name and hometown, This personalizes your donation and truly makes the Stay Strong Tote a gift from you.
Thats all there is to it. Thank you so much for supporting our mission by “Sendng Hugs through Shrugs” and helping to wrap a little love and support around some very worried moms.