We’re sure to be knitting, making, thinking, and working for peace over the coming months  … but from places of silence and repose near and far.   To be certain, there will be plenty to share after the summer holidays.

Here’s hoping your summer is as productive as I’m hoping mine will be.


The Olive Branch

Well, it’s mostly quiet in the Gaza region, for the time being.  Rocket fire into Israel from Gaza has slowed, and humanitarian aid for civilians is getting into Gaza, albeit at a rate less then optimal.

Rather than hold my breath – and hands – waiting for the parties to make their peace, I’m still looking for a wider community committed to that peace.  I’m heartened by recent requests for a pattern for my knitted olive branch.  The process is a simple one:  knit  some olives, start knitting a branch and leaves, and knit the olives onto the branch as you go.

TikkunTree Olive Branch

– worsted weight yarn (I used Araucania Nature Wool Solids, two shades of mottled green), a few yards for each olive, more for the branch and leaves
– one set of US 3 (3.25 mm) double point needles
– one set of US 4 (3.5 mm) double point needles
stitch holder/s
– a small amount of stuffing material (a finely shredded, clean plastic bag will do just as well as polyfill stuffing)


Knit 5-8 olives with stems (large and small, green and/or black) and set aside on stitch holder/s or another needle.

To make an olive:
CO 6 (long-tail),  divide onto 3 dpns, join without twisting and mark beginning of the round
Row 1 (and all odd rows): knit
Row 2:  *k1, M1 (ladder-lift increase), k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (9 sts)
Row 4:  *k1, M1, k2*, k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (12 sts)
Row 6:  *k1, M1, k3*, k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (15 sts)
Row 8:  *k1, M1, k3*, k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (18 sts)
Row 10: *k1, M1, k3*, k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (21 sts)
Rows 11-13:  knit
Row 14:  *k2tog, k4*, k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (18 sts)
Row 16:  *k2tog, k3*, k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (15 sts)
Row 18:  *k2tog, k2*, k1*, repeat ** to end of round  (12 sts)
Stuff the olive lightly and continue to close the top of the olive:
Row 20:  *k2tog* to end of round (6 sts)
Row 21:  *k2 tog* to end of round  (3)
Row 22:  k2tog, k1
Continue to make stem for olive on branch:  work remaining 2 sts in I-cord (knit the sts, don’t turn; slip the sts back to the beginning of the needle and knit again) for 3-5 rows

Cut a 3” tail for weaving later, and slip these 2 sts to a holder or another needle and Cut a 3” tail for weaving later.

Start the olive branch and leaves:
CO 5 sts in green or brown
Work in I-cord  for 2-4”.
Begin working leaves on the stem and knit in the olives as you go.

To make olive branch leaves:
Start with one st from the I cord branch (from either end of the dpn), then CO 15-20 sts (backward loops works fine; other techniques are described here here).
BO 5 sts loosely.
K remaining new sts, slip last st knitted back to other (LH) needle, turn.
K to next to last st, turn (1 st is on the RH needle), slip 1 st from LN to RN, and BO 1st st, then
•    continue to knit and BO the remaining sts (for slim leaf)
•    or repeat above if making a larger leaf (20+ sts) – BO 5, K, k back, then BO remaining sts.

To knit-in an olive on the left side of the branch
•    prepare by loading an olive to the left of the branch (place sts on the left side of the LH dpn)
•    knit the first 2 sts of the I-cord branch, k2tog, k2tog (last st of the branch and the 1st st of the olive stem), k1 (2nd st of the olive stem)  (5 sts)

To knit-in an olive on the right side of the branch
•    prepare by loading an olive to the right of the branch (place sts on the right side of the LH dpn)
•    k1 (1st st of the olive stem), K2 tog (2nd st of the olive stem and 1st st of the branch), k3

Continue to knit the branch and leaves, adding olives as you go, until you have used up your olives and/or the branch is the desired length.

This pattern is copyright protected.  Feel free to use this pattern for non-commercial purposes only.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns about the pattern. I’m indebted to Mary Jane, Midge and Mink for the inspiration of their Olive Tutorial.

© 2009 TikkunArts. All Rights Reserved.

Resport on NPR’sMorning Edition this morning (Anne Garrels, Israeli Forces Pulling Out of Gaza, 2:28-4:07) — case that finally prompted public conversation about Israel’s use of excessive force

Dr. El Aish (Palestinian physician from Gaza) – fixture on Israeli TV, believed in co-existence, worked in Israel, spoke fluent Hebrew – nontheless believes in the integrity of Israel’s leaders, their professional and moral capacity to investigate the attack on his home and death of his children, and to speak the truth.  He says he hopes his daughters’ deaths are not in vain, that his family’s tragedy will open the eyes and minds of Israelis to what has happened.  He wants and investigation.

“I fully believe in the moral [sic] of the Israeli leaders.  I count on their professionalism, that they are serious, and they have the courage to say the truth.  They committed a mistake.”

Dr. Ish, worked in co-existence projects, three of four daughters killed in Israeli military strike

As tension increases in Gaza between Israel and Palestine, it is important to support and empower long-term peacekeeping efforts. With the recent Israeli violence in the news, now is the time to act. Donate to one of the projects below that address the well-known challenge of sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Hamsa/Chamsa/Khamsa KAL project?  Hamsa leaves …

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – donate hereInternational Rescue Committee (IRC) (for medical supplies)

Save the Children has worked in Gaza and the West Bank since the 1970’s (for food, water, and medical supplies)

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) – special Gaza appeal

Global Giving facilitates work of numerous projects leading to sustainable peace in Israel-Palestine.  CHF International provides food and water to Gazan civilian, International Medical Corps (IMC) is attempting to provide emergency medical supplies, MADRE, partnered with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, are trying to bring medical aid to women injured in the conflict.

Other direct contributions to providing relief in Gaza can be made to CARE (for critical food relief),

NIF SHATIL’s southern office staff live in Be’er Sheva , Kiryat Gat, Rahat, Sderot and other communities – all within the range of rocket fire from Gaza. supported relief work of NGO’s

Shatil’s remarkable efforts to make relief management resoures available, facilitate the 450 ngo’s work  here, here, and here – SHATIL Be’er Sheva staff is in the process of mapping the war-related needs of 450 non- profit organizations and grassroots groups in the south.

joint protest – 300 Jews and Arabs from the Wadi Ara region of Israel demonstrated against the harming of innocent civilians in Gaza and the surrounding Israeli region. The rally was organized by NIF grantee Awareness for You, which runs empowerment courses for Arab women in the village of Kfar Kara.

Members of the NIF family, in cluding — Adalah: Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel), Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI),

Bimkom: Planners for Planning RightsGisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel * The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel * Rabbis for Human Rights * Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights B’Tselem The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Kol Acher (Other Voice)

supported ACRI’s – work to protect rights of Arab Israelis to protest Gazan violence –

shelter nurseries for children Israeli civilians – might be able to use handmade toys – challenge to find equivalent for Gazan children (hospitals) – in addition to sending cash donations to relief agencies (such as Doctors Without Borders

I don’t know about anyone else, but the violence in Gaza over the past three weeks has left me in something of a state of mental and emotional paralysis. Since the first Israeli strike in Gaza, I’ve been knitting birds … white doves, yellow birds, red birds, blue birds, birds, birds, birds,  … my personal vigil, to create an aviary for peace.

This evening, as a UN compound smoulders in Gaza City, all I can think of is how to use my hands, my needles, even my heart,  to memorialize the many lost civilians.

Green often symbolizes sincerity and hope, optimism, generosity, and renewal.  And misfortune.  I recently learned that green is associated with Islam.

Tonight I’ll knit a green bird, a TikkunTree leaf bird, a mourning dove, a mournful green dove.  Hoping for peace with every single stitch.

With the renewed violence in Israel and Gaza, it seemed even more important than ever to find a way to express the work of the TikkunTree:  bringing more of us together to contribute to eventual peace in Israel-Palestine.

While I don’t wear a kippah (yarmulke), I do believe that the skullcap – as a ritual garment – symbolizes prayer and the hope for peace in a special way.   This needle-felted dove kippah is the beginning of the new year’s journey.

In the face of one’s own powerlessness to change the actions of those waging violence against one another, we can choose to walk in the path of peace by affirmatively pursuing peaceful prayer, conversation and action.

The TikkunTree and this site have been dormant, too long perhaps, but then there was an election campaign to wage and win.  And it was won! So now, with the news about President-Elect Obama’s cabinet and policy choices accumulating on a weekly basis, there’s even more reason to count on a reasoned American approach to building peace in Israel-Palestine.

Although I was thoroughly immersed in work for the campaign and change in American government since mid-summer, plenty of knitting for peace and politics happened along the way.

The broohaha over Sarah Palin’s nomination prompted a brief flight into fanciful crochet, and I spent a few weeks feverishly crocheting pigs in lipstick as I registered voters.  These joined a special “Obamulke” (Obama + yarmulke; featured on JudaicaJournal!) I embroidered as donations to the pool of items auctioned by Ravelry’s Knitters for Obama group (which raised over $32,000 for the campaign!).  The many hours spent in my local campaign headquarters inspired a few special hats, and my efforts to increase the Jewish vote for Obama prompted a few special Oy-bama projects as well (more here).

The Beijing Summer Olympics in August inspired nearly four thousand craftspeople to make and finish tens of thousands of projects.  As a participant in the “Hat Dash”, I produced five small hats for the China Care Orphans Project.

During the final months of the campaign I managed to squeeze out enough spare time to finish a number of special projects.  In honor of the Jewish New Year, I finished a knitted shofar and pomegranate, symbols of the holiday.  For Sukkot, I added some new knitted and felted etrogs to our family sukkah, to make the space even more hospitable to visiting interfaith and peace groups. (more here)

Much energy went into creating a set of flags for the 198 Countries Peace ProjectI signed on to the project early, claiming the flags of Israel and Palestine for (for obvious reasons), as well as the flag of Cambodia (in honor of my friend Onn, a survivor of the genocide). I tackled Cambodian flag first in August, exploring ways to translate into knitting the special structural details of the 11th-c. Wat Kohear Nokor temple represented on the flag.

From the outset, I knew that I’d execute the flags of Israel and Palestine jointly, to reflect my understanding of the ways in which these two peoples inextricably bound to the same texts and terrain.  I eventually settled on joining the flags by way of the intertwined (cabled) trunk of a olive tree (of life), rather than the conjoined bodies of twins, which is how I’ve formulated the relationship previously (as here).  The cabling was more than a bit of a challenge, and more than a bit imperfect, much like the process of achieving a just peace for these peoples.  But the process of sorting out ideas, sketching designs, and working out the technical details, offered plenty of opportunities to think through new ways to participate personally in the larger process in future.

And now?   I’ve plenty of ideas for new leaves for the TikkunTree … anyone want to try a few?

‘If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.’
Lin-Chi Buddhist proverb (from Craft Unbound)

What’s often most astonishing about the internet is the way in which paths cross virtually across the most incredible distances. Australia had always counted among the more exotic places in the imagination of my youth … the pull of coral landscapes, aboriginal painting, the sound of the didgeradoo, the miracle of a kangaroo’spouch, to name a few resonances. In the course of my occasional virtual travels (aka “surfing the internet), I’ve stumbled across some pretty amazing craft work. But earlier this week I was amazed to learn that the TikkunTree project has been included among the on the Craft Unbound blog. he Craft Unbound blog continues the exploration begun in Australian Kevin Murray’s Craft Unbound: Makes The Common Precious (read the preface, or a review) of new developments in contemporary craft, especially in the “poor craft” movement – “the creative strategy of using materials that have little or no value”. When I read the preface, I was intrigued by Murray’s distinction between craft artists according to their “method of approaching the ordinary:

Gatherers draw from the […] land to produce work, while Fossickers discover materials in manufactured environments. Gleaners use what gets left behind, such as packaging, and Alchemists look to the physical transformation of materials. Dissectors expose beauty through the act of destruction, but Liberators take the precious out of the gallery and onto the street.

I’m flattered that the TikkunTree is counted among the “unbound” in Murray’s estimation, a participant in the “art of the ordinary”. But more importantly, I hope that the TikkunTree’s “liberation” from the gallery conveys my conviction that the business of making peace is an ordinary one, something that grows out of ordinary thoughts, conversation, connection, commitment, and (hopefully) eventual action. Making a single leaf is a simple act, expressing a simple commitment – to peace. So if the TikkunTree is to truly contribute to the realization of peace in Israel-Palestine, it can do so only by the accumulation of ordinary acts of peace-ful making. Will you knit (or crochet, sew, felt, fold …) a leaf or two, to make this virtual olive tree a real symbol of peace?

Ta, John!

With peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials happening, or not happening, ceasefires initiated, or challenged, prisoners of conflict exchanged, dead or alive, it’s been a roller coaster ride for months. And all the while I’ve been working on Judaica knits that might stimulate conversation and community, answering questions about the TikkunTree, and holding my breath in the hope of a breakthrough for peace, somewhere, somehow, sometime soon. Like a lot of others.

And in the meantime, there’s always a reminder that others are travelling in a similar path …

This week Knittah (on Ravelry, and her Tumblyday blog) shared photos of her contribution to the TikkunTree … a trio of lovely sculpted (double-sided) leaves (pattern available here) made from Araucania nature wool!

Thanks ever so much, Knittah. I’ll be looking for them to arrive in The Box soon.

Well, the TikkunTree project is now included among the rank of Mid-East Peace projects and links on Richard Silverstein’s blog, Tikun Olam. If you aren’t familiar with Silverstein’s intelligent journalism, his blog is worth more than a cursory look – his essays on the politics, culture and ideas about Israeli-Arab peace never fail to provide interesting and/or useful information (especially his book reviews), and valuable analysis.

Greetings Richard, and welcome to the TikkunTree.

My branch of the TikkunTree has sprouted new fruit. Amidst the variety of leaves this tree has produced (simple single and double leaves, Safed leaves, Undone leaves, YingYang leaves, Cabled Co-existence Leaves), etc), this imaginary olive tree has finally yielded its first olive branch! How was it done? I knit a few olives (solid versions inspired by the patterns described here) and knitted them into to a knitted branch … no seams, few ends to weave in, one lovely, delicate, leaf-strewn knitted olive branch. More information will be available on the Patterns page.

What conversations about or efforts for mid-east peace might this new growth on the TikkunTree stimulate? For me, renewed effort to find more information about the peacebuilding work in Israel-Palestine. Last week I made time to read all the reports on recent Israeli-Palestinian dialogue projects contained in a recent issue of Qantara.de: Dialogue with the Islamic World, a German e-journal. Learning about the range of artistic, educational, journalistic, musical and political bridges that are being built between Israeli Jews and Palestinians is tremendously inspiring.

Made me want to keep knitting green leaves, at the very least. And prompted me to explore new ways to support the pursuit of peace in Israel-Palestine. Here’s a new one: to contribute to the work of Doctors Without Borders in the Palestinian territories – it seems self-evident that people without adequate medical care are unlikely to be able to work for peace. Fortunately for fiber artists crafters interested in peace in the mid-east, there’s a simple way to make a contribution to the important work of these medical professionals: join others in the Knitters Without Borders project and take “the Doctors Without Borders Challenge”.

If you don’t know about Knitters Without Borders, you should. The project was started as a response to the 2004 Asian Tsunami disaster by the famed YarnHarlot (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee), to raise funds for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders. How does it work? You take “the Challenge”: for one week … tally up the value of all unnecessary purchases for one week (that includes lattes, an extra pair of shoes, new jeans, and yarn!) and donate that amount to any of the MSF organizations [MSF United States, MSF Canada or MSF International]. Anyone who can afford to knit can afford to donate, at least a dollar.

So consider contributing the cost of green yarn for this week’s TikkunTree leafto MSF, to support the medical assistance provided in the occupied territories. Then send your name, email address and donation amount to McPhee (the address is: kwbATyarnharlotDOTca), so that she can maintain a running tally, proudly display the project’s button and link to the homepage. No donation amount is too small to be recorded! The project reports donations totalling almost $450K to date!

I’ve purchased a KWB tote (available inexpensively here; purchases help support the expenses of the project) to carry my current crop of TikkunTree leaves and remind me to record each unnecessary purchase I’ve refrained from making.