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Warrior Shawl & Giveaway

UPDATE 6.11.2014: Congratulations to winner Evie! Evie, please check your email for your pattern!


Breast cancer is scary. Let me rephrase that… All cancers are scary, but one that has its lazer-like focus on mostly women (yes, men can get breast cancer, too) and being a woman myself, it adds in an extra scariness factor.

I was approached by a student and friend, Eileen Mitchard earlier this year about doing a design for the cause. I assumed she meant a design that would call attention to the disease, but it turned into so much more than that.


Breast in Show is a live stage musical written by Lisa Hayes with music and lyrics by Joan Cushing.  The show was conceived of by Eileen and is based on interviews conducted with patients, medical personnel and family members by Ms. Mitchard, Ms. Hayes and Ms. Cushing over a period of  two years. Show synopsis: Welcome to the “Chemo Café,” where strangers become friends sharing an unforgettable journey of laughter and tears on the road to healing. Join these warriors on a life-affirming rollercoaster of emotions in this original stage musical.

I immediately knew my answer would be “yes.” I’m a huge fan of women helping women, but the thing that’s so frightening about this particular type of cancer, is that we’re all connected to it somehow. We all have known someone who is currently fighting the battle against breast cancer, has fought it in the past, is getting ready to fight it, has sadly lost their battle, knows a friend of a friend going through it, an aunt, a sister, a mother, a grandmother… This disease is everywhere and we’ve all been touched by it in some way. Eileen herself is a fighter, having fought her own medical battle regarding her heart and winning.


I lost a friend in January to cancer. While it wasn’t breast cancer (it was cervical cancer), she was one of the three women instrumental in teaching me to knit. I knew her almost my entire life and when I read about chemo and how it often makes the recipient cold, I immediately put all of my knitting aside and knit a cozy shawl for her. She told me how much she loved it and how she wrapped it around her neck while receiving treatment. She came to mind when Eileen and I were throwing around ideas for what to knit for the show and I knew a shawl would be the perfect design.


There’s something special about shawls. They wrap the wearer in warmth, yes, but each stitch is so much more than just one stitch. As I knit the shawl for my friend who lost her battle, I thought of her with every single stitch that flew across my needles. The art of packing a shawl with good intentions, thoughts and good vibes is called knitting a “prayer shawl,” and the Warrior Shawl is coming from the same vein. The shape is reminiscent of wings, while the “spine” going down the middle reminds us to stand strong and fight our battles. The border is made of hearts and it would be easy to add a bit of sparkle and throw some beads on there.


In Breast in Show, the survivors become “warriors,” so what better way to honor these women than to call this design the Warrior Shawl? Knit in Dragonfly Fiber’s stunning handdyed superwash, Traveller DK, this shawl can be knit for yourself, a friend, a survivor, someone undergoing their battle currently or a prayer handed over to someone who simply needs one. Eileen is encouraging everyone to knit their shawl and wear it to the show, which will be playing at the 2014 Capital Fringe festival in DC July 10 -27, 2014.


More information on the show can be found here.

What I’m most proud of in this shawl is that 100% of the pattern proceeds are going towards funding the show. As I knit it, I thought of my friend, now gone but certainly never forgotten. She would have loved this shawl and I would have loved knitting one for her.

You can also join the Warrior Shawl KAL (knit-a-long) hosted by Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA on Ravelry. Anyone can knit-a-long, it’s virtual so you don’t have to be local. Join us!

Pattern available for download here.

One lucky winner will win a copy of the Warrior Shawl pattern. Leave a comment on this post about how breast cancer has touched your life. A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday.

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lost my mother-in-law to breast cancer in 1998, and have had a few friends diagnosed as well. What a great cause, and a beautiful shawl pattern!

    June 9, 2014
  2. Eileen Mitchard #

    How can I ever thank you for the design and this beautiful posting?


    Sent from my iPhone


    June 9, 2014
  3. Jane Baldinger #

    Tanis, I loved what you said about the shawl. I’ve got the pattern and have started knitting it and I will remember to put my prayers in it as I go along. With the way I knit, I just hope it will be ready in time for the show.


    June 9, 2014
  4. mooskers5 #

    i have unfortunately had family with cancer- all survived…
    but one

    June 9, 2014
  5. Julie T #

    My oldest sister started with breast cancer and then it went into her spinal fluid and the lining of her brain. She did not survive. Beautiful story and lovely shawl. I usually knit socks for the people I know who have cancer. There have been more than my oldest sister.

    June 9, 2014
  6. KM #

    2 sweet friends have fought breast cancer in the last 2 years. One of them is a knitter. If I win, this pattern is for her.

    June 9, 2014
  7. carrotmusic #

    Sometimes it feels to me that breast cancer is practically a contagious disease – there are so many folks who are suffering. I have been involved in a prayer shawl group for years, and several of my shawls have gone to “warrior” friends (that is such a great way to describe it!). My husband is currently being treated for cancer (appendix/colon) and one of his favorite comforting things is the prayer shawl he was given. I love the idea of the show and of your shawl design – fight on!

    June 9, 2014
  8. LaRhea Dallis #

    How beautiful & heartfelt – both your post & pattern. As a 2x Warrior of breast cancer, at ages 35 & now 49, I can honestly say the greatest gift I’ve ever received are the prayers of others. What a humbling & life-changing experience to admit you need them & then accept them. Your shawl is a gentle reminder you are never fighting alone! Thank you. LaRhea

    June 9, 2014
  9. Shing #

    I love this idea, have been knitting hats for Halo of Hope and will add lovely shawl to the arsenal. Supporting survivors one stitch at a time!

    June 9, 2014
  10. Carol #

    We all know too many affected by cancer. Thank you for this. I’m going to buy the pattern to lend support so please don’t enter me in the raffle.

    June 9, 2014
  11. Karen Seman #

    Tanis this is probably my favorite post of yours (and that’s saying something…) I just love the idea of your (gorgeous!) Warrior Shawl being a positively fierce version of a prayer shawl. Positively fierce also describes my friend and breast cancer survivor Joan, who rekindled my passion for knitting some 15 years ago when she started a “knitchix” lunchtime group at our office in NYC. Joan is a real inspiration, and would look and feel fabulous while truly owning the deeper meaning in this shawl. Thanks, Thing 1

    June 9, 2014
  12. Cherie K Fischer #

    Cancer is a horrible disease. I lost my mother to ovarian cancer and my brother is fighting Large cell B lymphoma. God bless all who are fighting any form of cancer and there family and friends. It takes it’s toll. This a wonderful thing you are doing. A beautiful design.

    June 9, 2014
  13. lindarumsey #

    My mum beat breast cancer over thirty years ago. She is still going strong and would love this shawl!

    June 9, 2014
  14. Lori #

    My mom had breast cancer! Thank you for this touching post and the lovely shawl pattern.

    June 9, 2014
  15. Lisa #

    Tanis, I loved reading this post and I absolutely love the meaning behind your design. My mother I’m law lost her sister to breast cancer & her husband last July. She finds peace in dragonflies. How neat that you knit such an incredibly inspirational design in dragonfly yarn.

    June 9, 2014
  16. Joanne #

    Last fall when I was at my lowest, I met a group if women who showed me the power of friendship & strength. A few short months later, one of these women was diagnosed with breast cancer. The call went out for hats. I bought a yarn with a bit of cashmere and knit away. I did knit prayers and wishes into every stitch. With each stitch I also gained my own strength and courage to make a change in my life.
    I love the symbols you have included in the shawl…so moving
    Thanks- Joanne

    June 9, 2014
  17. Barbara LeBlanc #

    The founder of our Tuesday night knitting group is currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer. I knit her a nice warm hat and brought dinner to her and her family. She is in her 30s and has 3 young children. After her chemo treatment, she will have to undergo a double mastectomy because she has that gene that is so destructive. Her life has changed radically and yet she remains a courageous positive force in her children’s lives. She is an awesome woman and I love her and her family and am doing what I can to help them. I pray that she will beat this awful disease and be around to see her children married and play with her grandchildren. I love this shawl and if I win the pattern will make it for my friend.

    June 9, 2014
  18. Receiving this post came at the perfect time. My best friend’s daughter (40 yrs old) just went through a double mastectomy. She was in surgery today for the placement of the chemo port which she will begin in a couple of weeks. My hope is to present her with this shawl very soon. Thanks for the awareness you have brought to all of us about this heart breaking disease.

    June 9, 2014
  19. Jennifer R. #

    Such a beautiful shawl, with beautiful sentiment. One of my closest and oldest friends, died almost 3 years ago after a very long battle with breast cancer. She was 38.
    Warrior is such an appropriate way to describe her. She fought and inspired like a warrior.

    June 10, 2014
  20. Evie #

    What a beautiful shawl and story. Over the years I have known so many who fought battles against cancer. I remember one friend describing how she watched her chemo drip and imagined each drop as marching out to go to battle against the cancer cells in her body. My cousin was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I plan to make one of these shawls for her.

    June 10, 2014
  21. Sharon imler #

    I will purchase the pattern if I don’t win it, so ready set go. Hope to see the play since I am local.

    June 10, 2014

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