Chicks with sticks
A tight-knit group of ladies meets weekly in the parlor of Memorial United Methodist Church in Thomasville. Calling themselves “Chicks with Sticks,” they trickle in bringing tote bags filled with colorful yarn and stitchery projects in various stages of completion. It’s a diverse group, but they have something in common — all come to minister to others through needlework.
When associate minister Peggy Finch’s mother was battling ovarian cancer about eight years ago, someone from her church gave her a multicolored prayer shawl which was a tremendous source of comfort.
The group stitchery sessions began on Wednesday nights and took off from there.
“I’m not one to reinvent the wheel,” said Finch. “We have taken something that has been successful in the past and used it to share God’s light. During the long, dark night sometimes you need a tangible reminder that you are being lifted up in prayer.”
Those who make the shawls don’t have to be church members, or even experienced knitters.
After receiving a warm welcome newbie knitter Chris Herrick dug into a goodie stash of yarn, knitting needles and photocopied patterns.
“We have several people who can teach you how to knit if you don’t know how,” said Betty Rowe.
Rowe is happy to have participated in a collection by the June, 2014 United Methodist Women’s Assembly of 6,700 prayer shawls and baby blankets which were headed for individuals, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and institutions. The organization grouped them by color and arranged them into a giant wall display.
“It was an awesome sight,” she said. “It’s pretty fulfilling that we contributed to that.”
Neatly folded, colorful, completed shawls await blessing on a chair near the door. When unfolded they are five to six feet long and adorned with a seed stitch or fringe border.
"Our shawls are prayerfully knit and blessed before they are donated to people," Finch said. "We present them in honor of joyous occasions as well as challenges. We make baptismal and wedding shawls."
Contributors don’t know where their projects will end up, but often the recipients will send in thank-you cards.
As needles click and progress is made, participants admire each other’s designs.
“Your fringes are so nice,” admired Ellis as knitters counted and stitched.
“I don’t fringe,” remarked Scottie Todd. “If you’re making it for a man they don’t like fringes.”
Over the years, the group has given away several hundred prayer shawls and lap robes.
As it turns out, there are shades of meaning behind the basic prayer shawl pattern.