Merina Shulist with her creation. (Photo courtesy Steve Clifton)

Topics: Ethical Living | Society

Determined knitter turns tangled yarn into communion tablecloth

For Merina Shulist, a lifelong member of Rideau Park United, the project was a chance to find creativity during the pandemic


One United church member’s special communion tablecloth originated with a memorable community event and endless tangled pieces of yarn.

It all began in February 2019 at Rideau Park United in Ottawa, with yarn flying all across Merina Shulist’s surroundings. The activity was part of Worshiplude, an event meant to build community among youth.

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“All of the yarn came from one of the youth worship services from cities all around our region,” Shulist said. “I believe each of the groups was asked to bring in a ball of yarn, and to show how we were all connected, we would just toss the balls all over the sanctuary, so there was just yarn, like wrapped around people. The [balls] were being thrown up and down from the balcony. It was absolute chaos and it was fabulous.”

After the event finished, Shulist, a lifelong member of Rideau Park United, went to the organizers and asked about their plans for all the yarn.

“I hated the idea of all this yarn potentially going in the garbage and going to waste. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I figured I could figure something out at some point,” she said.

The yarn for Merina Shulist’s communion tablecloth came from an activity at Worshiplude, a event for United Church youth in February 2019. (Photo courtesy Steve Clifton)

After spending the next year mostly untangling the mammoth amount of yarn, she finally began knitting the threads into something.

“I really wanted to do something that kept the yarn in one sort of project,” she said. “The other challenge was I had no idea what the material was for any of them. I was guessing as far as size and thickness of the yarn.”

She made sample swatch squares, five by five inches and searched the internet for pattern inspiration.

“It just sort of evolved into the communion tablecloth,” Shulist said.

But she also ripped it apart and restarted when she had second thoughts about the way the patterns were stitched. Shulist has been working in the support services department at The Ottawa Hospital since the pandemic, but always found time to keep the project alive.

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In February, the communion tablecloth was finished. It has since been used at Rideau Park United.

When Shulist looks back at it all, all she can do is smile.

“On a project like this that’s experimental and I’m not working off a master plan, you’ve got a little bit of questioning or doubt about ‘is this actually going to work,’ and then in the end, it actually did work,” she said.


Nathan Abraha is an intern at Broadview.

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