Writing Life: Cozy Butterfly Project

Cozy Butterfly Project; small butterfly and flowers in corners

[UPDATED March 2022] So, awhile back I had the idea of starting a comfort shawl project that would allow myself and others to encourage women engaged in the hard work of transforming themselves and their lives. 

A couple years ago, as an enthusiastic but scattered knitter with basic to intermediate skills, I’d been drawn to the comfort/prayer shawl both as a meditative process for myself and hopefully a blessing and encouragement to those dealing with trauma or illness. I mailed off my first effort to a hospice service after finishing ghostwriting THE LAST TEN DAYS by Martha Risberg Brosio about her husband Richard’s struggle with primary progressive aphasia and eventual death with dignity. 

It felt right. I was hooked. 

When it came time to make another shawl, I wanted to dedicate my time and materials to women emerging from difficult circumstances into better, safer, more secure lives. I’d decided I’d donate my comfort shawl to a women’s halfway house, one that provides guidance, programs, shelter, emotional healing, and education. And because I believe we are stronger together, I asked my writing group, the Advance Copies, if they wanted to join in. They did (I wasn’t surprised because these women are incredibly giving and socially-responsible and caring people) and the four of us are busy with our needles and yarn “working up” a batch of shawls. 

Because I have this delight in creating clubs and naming things, I searched around for the perfect name for this endeavor. The obvious symbol for such metamorphosis is the butterfly. Comfort shawls are cozy. Voila! The Cozy Butterfly Project emerged from its teeny cocoon and into the world. 

The comfort shawl pattern we use at Cozy Butterfly is simple; the act of knitting is deliberate. 

As we knit, we think healing, caring thoughts for the person who will eventually receive it–our way of sending a little bit of hope and encouragement to women who are healing from difficult and painful pasts and dreaming of a beautiful, empowered future. In addition to the positive wishes and thoughts, a small, pink butterfly charm will be attached to each shawl. The knitter will receive a matching charm, as well. 

My hope is that the receiver will look at the charm and know that someone “out there” cares about her and her future and is rooting for her to succeed at whatever goals she sets for herself. 

The beauty and “magic” of a comfort shawl is that it blesses the giver as much (or even more) than the receiver. As we knit, we slow down, contemplate our blessings, think of others, and send out a bit of hope and love into the universe. 

Hope and love, if we let them, heal our hearts even in the most bitter circumstances. 

At least, that’s what I believe. 

In a few minutes, I’ll be mailing out the first butterfly charms to my writing group members. We encourage and cheer each other, not only as writers but also as women, each with her own joys, challenges, sorrows, and triumphs.That they enthusiastically embraced this project means so much to me. If just a little of that caring energy is carried to other women through the fibers of these shawls, I’ll be happy. 

If you would like to join the Cozy Butterfly Project, please leave a comment with your email below (or DM me on Facebook, Insta, or Twitter). I will send you instructions for the shawl in an email. It’s even easier if you sign up for my email newsletter because you can then email me directly.

I’ve already reached out to a program that provides shelter, education, emotional healing counseling, and employment training, etc. Look for an upcoming blog post about this amazing nonprofit! Meanwhile, happy knitting, writing, and reading. 



piece of knitting close up with a copper butterfly charm


  1. Thank you so much, Debbie, for taking part in this project. It means so much to me that you and others have joined in. I can only hope more people jump on board!

  2. What a brilliant idea Shelley! I would like to join in. Such an uplifting way to encourage and support women.

  3. This is a very clever, wonderful idea Shelley. I’ve made some copies of your post to give to others that I think will be interested.

    1. Cool, Wendy. One of those butterflies was supposed to be for you, but if you wanted to share them both, that’s good, too. Let me know if you want one for yourself and I’ll send it.

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