berries and knitting


This summer produced exceptionally sweet wild strawberries in the meadows here. With them, I made a midsummer strawberry cake and also drew a knitting chart for a baby cardigan I dreamed up for my daughter. It feels like too much work to write down the pattern, but I did transfer the chart from my sketchbook to photoshop so it can be used by others, see below


Hemlock Tonic


The Spring has hit the (Eastern) hemlock trees here in the Catskills and they are all sporting their new neon-green manicures! I can never resist collecting a few, they are delicious straight from the tree- a very tender, citrusy taste with of course the evergreen tones. Super good natural breath freshener :) Or muddle them into cocktails or add sugar and let them sit for about a month and you’ll have some delicious syrup… or you can make a tonic that will keep all year.


What I’ve learned about Hemlock is that medicinally they are known for their aid to the respiratory system as well as for helping with coughs, colds, stuffy noses- which of course are all ailments of the breath. The shape of the trees and their needle structures are very reminiscent of the bronchi in our lungs- I love how nature sends you messages like that. Remember to not take from the young saplings and gather a few tips from different trees rather than depleting the new growth of one.

My recipe for tonic is very simple, great during allergy season or whenever you need a respiratory clean up. You can mix it with seltzer as a delicious drink or take daily by the spoonful, medicine style! I’ve written it in ratio rather than for a specific serving, here’s how:

-Brandy (at least 40% alcohol)

-raw local honey

-hemlock tips

1) Fill your vessel a fifth full with the honey, then up to the halfway mark with brandy.

2) Stir and shake until the honey is dissolved.

3) Add the Hemlock tips until your vessel is filled to the halfway mark with them, then top up with brandy.

4) Shake well, then leave to sit for a month at least- I re-shake mine every week to keep it mixed. After a month you can strain the needles for a pure tonic. I leave mine in, as I find them beautiful- but entirely up to you.


Pine Needle Hottie


I haven’t used a hottie since I was little, but have been yearning for one in late pregnancy! Adjusting the temperature of your body can be so healing and nurturing. I recently read a beautiful document on traditional Inuit practices for expecting mothers/childbirth and loved learning about their holistic remedies and rituals. One of the take aways I’ve been practicing is getting up early and immediately going outside to take in the new days air and sensations on your skin- here, at this time of year that means a silent, snowy forest. Its a wonderful wake -up and definitely helps with my new lack of caffeine! So to close the day, my preference is to get cosy with nettle tea and a hottie. I bought this natural rubber one which is 8” x 13” and used some leftover yarn to make the cover, for the grey I used 2 strands held together of Artesano Alpaca 4 ply (about 3/4 of each skein) and worked the motif with a tiny amount (less than a 1/4 skein) of worsted wool from Swans Island. The pattern is as follows:

On circular needles or DPNs size US 2 / 2.75mm cast on 84sts in your main color (MC), join to work in the round placing a marker at the beginning of the round, taking care to avoid twists. I worked mine in magic loop, but it’s not necessary.

knit (k) 42, place a side marker (SM), k 42

k1 round

*k1, make (m)1, knit to 1 stitch (st) before SM, m1, k1, slip marker, k1, m1, k to 1 st before end of round (EOR) m1,k1 (88sts)

k2 rounds

repeat last 3 rounds (from *) until you have 96sts (2 more times)


Continue knitting until your work measures 3.25” from cast on edge, then introducing your contrast color (CC) work all 33 rows of the chart.

Break CC yarn, continuing in MC for the rest of the pattern. Knit 2” stockinette (from the end of the chart section). Then decrease for the bottle neck as follows:

K1, knit 2 together (k2tog), k42, slip slip knit (ssk), k2, k2tog, k42, ssk, k1 (92sts)

K1 round

K1, k2tog, k40, ssk, k2, k2tog, k40, ssk, k1 (88sts)

K1 round

K1, k2tog, k38, ssk, k2, k2tog, k38, ssk, k1 (84sts)

K1 round

K1, k2tog, k36, ssk, k2, k2tog, k36, ssk, k1 (80sts)

K1 round

*K1, k2tog, k to 3 sts before SM, ssk, k1, SLM, k1, k2tog, k to 3 sts before EOR, ssk, k1

Repeat last row (from *) omitting knit round in between, until 40sts remain

Work k2, p2 ribbing until ribbing measures 8"

Use a stretchy bind off technique to finish, then break yarn. Sew your cast on row together beginning with the first stitch and last stitch of the cast on, and ending by sewing together the 2 stitches on either side of your halfway mark (see pics for reference). Sew in all your ends, insert the water bottle through the neck: Easiest to remove the stopper, and roll it tight with the textured part of the rubber facing in, then put the cover over it like you’d put on tights, releasing the roll once the bottom is at the bottom, then adjust your knitting around it so the edges line up and turn the excess of the neck over. Then block the piece on the bottle- I filled the bottle with hot water to make it dry faster.


Evening in the woods behind the house

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