Archive for the ‘Foliage’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. Micah 4:2-5

Friday was Knit for Peace Day, a relatively new event for a number of socially-concerned knitters around the world. Initiated by Randy/KnitforPeace, an American knitter living in Sweden, Knit for Peace Day is an opportunity to commit both the work of spirit and hands to the pursuit of peace. She found time to reflect on:

  1. a lasting solution in Israel, where everyone can live in peace and dignity”;
  2. religious freedom for Tibetans;
  3. an end to the war in Iraq and an honest restructuring of the Iraqi; infrastructure;
  4. an end to the misery in Darfur; and
  5. understanding within my family for different views and different ways of doing things.

All of these found their way onto my list, along with a few others regarding local concerns as well, chief among which were wishes for the continued reduction in the number of homicides in my city, and care and reconciliation within the Democratic party (Clinton and Obama campaigns), so that eventual unity and electoral success can be achieved.

My knitting time was devoted to thinking creatively about the relationship between the Jewish holiday of Purim and peace (a few recent essays on Purim violence and traditions certainly stimulated me), and ways to promote the pursuit of peace in the American Jewish community. Much creativity will be needed in this endeavor, so I’ve been working on variations of “co-existence leaves” for the TikkunTree Project.

I managed to knit four leaves (each takes less than an hour), including “integrated” striped leaves, a ying & yang leaf (pattern available shortly), and a felted leaf, a combination of the simple garter leaf pattern and co-existence leaf. Any leaf pattern will work for the felted leaf – just use US 10.5 or 11 needles and 100% wool yarn. These leaves were made with Peace Fleece worsted wool – Peace Fleece felts beautifully, though requires a bit of elbow grease (or extra time in a machine). But then, peace is worth the extra effort.

Try knitting for peace – with the onset of spring, contribute to the new growth of the TikkunTree in 2008.

p.s.  Friday was also the Jewish holiday of Purim.  In keeping with the spirit of Knit for Peace Day, I also worked on a felted “Peacetaschen” Hamentaschen cookie (more information here).

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Perhaps winter has felt as long for others as it has for us, in spite of the unusual (and troubling) bursts of temperate days and rainfall rather than cold and snow. Certainly recent events in the mid-east (and Africa, and Balkans) are dispiriting at times – one wonders how it will be possible for Jews and Palestinians (or Sudanese tribes, or Serbians and Kosovans) to settle their political and ethno-religious disputes in the face of continued violence.

As I try to stay abreast of the news, I continue to knit for peace, and hope that others will carve small bubbles of time out of their busy lives to join me. The most recent round of violence in Sderot-Gaza and Jerusalem prompted me to respond by creating new foliage TikkunTree, knitted leaves that join colors and stitches, like the disparate peoples that must eventually find paths to co-existence.

These first efforts feel something like knitted prayers, each leaf an opportunity to reflect on a variety of ways I can (and ought to) contribute to the peace process: through art, through conversation, through financial contributions, through political activism, through prayer.

Here is the pattern for a medium-sized, single-sided leaf. Instructions for the double-sided version will be added soon, along with the modifications for a somewhat larger leaf (with a more prominent, 6 st cabled vein) and a two-color “coexistence” version. NOTE: this post will be edited and updated freely until all the patterns and their photos are included and corrected, with date of last revision included.

TikkunTree Cabled Leaf and variations
(rev’d 3.13.08)


  • two shades of green worsted weight yarn (one used as main color, the other color used for the central cabled vein)
  • Size 6 needles (4.0 mm), 6-8″ dpns or circular

MC — main color
CC — contrast color
RS / WS — right side / wrong side
CO — cast on
M1 — increase 1 st (either by yarnover, or a “ladder-lift” increase)
M1R — make 1 right-leaning st by knitting into right side of next stitch below (instructions and video demo here)
M1L — make 1 left-leaning st by knitting into left side of two sts below (same st) (instructions and video demo here)
ssk — slip 2 sts as if to knit (knit-wise), return these to the left needle and knit together
k2tog — knit 2 sts sts together
C4R — slip 2 sts to cable needle and hold to back, knit 2 sts from left needle, knit the 2 sts from the cable needle


THANKS – Leslie

These leaves were inspired by Cyntergomes’ veined leaf pattern, for the Burning Man Project.

Please don’t hesitate to let me know if there are problems with these instructions; if you want to help test patterns, please contact me (!) at: tikkunknits (at) yahoo (dot) com.



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Peace machine

How did this happen, Ellen?

And other friends who have found inspiration in the TikkunTree Project: Comfy Bev. Burro Bird

Perhaps it will be time to start working out the trunk …

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Every Friday afternoon since starting the TikkunTree Project, on my way home from picking up vegetables from the neighborhood green grocer (and sometimes a bit of yarn at my LYS, Sophie’s), I’ve stopped by the neighborhood post office to check The Box. My first post office box, with its very own over-sized keys. And the box has been empty every Friday.

Until this week. What a lovely surprise to find a parcel in The Box!

And what did it contain?

Three beautiful smooth double TikkunTree leaves …

and a lovely note:


Please accept these additions for your TikkunTree project, I met you at the Oct. rally on Market St. protesting the Iraq war – I am the guy that knits with the Quakers. I was inspired by your project to pull out some old dp’s and do some contemplative knitting. I have to say it was an exercise in patience to begin the leaves. I knit 3, one for each member of my family: me, my partner K. and our son S. I pray for a more peaceful world for all of [us] ad appreciate the vision and faith, such as yours, that moves us towards tikkun olam.

Peace to you and your family –

Jeff P, for KL and SL-P

Thank you Jeff! Your leaves are very lovely, and very beautifully knitted. They, along with their wishes for peace, will inspire many of us further.

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