Under the Himalayan White Pine

The KNITSONIK System emerged, in part, out of my continually picking things up, or being in places, and thinking I WANT TO KNIT THIS… but then having no clear way to action that vague, common impulse. My Sourcebook is full of strategies for tuning my wish into reality, and for ploughing through what can sometimes seem the insurmountable gap between being inspired and knitting a thing.

A few months ago I found something under a tree in The Harris Garden which instantly made me think I WANT TO KNIT THIS.

Large woody pinecone from the Himalayan White Pine

A pinecone, large and comely, and possessed of an elegant geometry.

Closeup of pinecone and shapely spines

Its shapes instantly reminded me of the motif for the Skystone Armwarmers I had just finished designing for Arnall-Culliford Knitwear’s Boost Your Knitting Programme & Publication.

Geometric knitting motifs for Skystone Armwarmers

Knowing a KAL would be integral to the launch of this pattern, I filed the pinecone under INSPIRATION. It meandered around our shelves and tables, winking at us with its glorious warm brown blush and resinous patina, and I wondered which shades I might use.

The more I looked at it, the more tones and hues I saw.

Different shades of brown, FC44, FC58 and 4 in the J&S yarn range read from left to right

As the KAL drew nearer, I toyed with various palettes but eventually settled on FC44, FC58 and 4 for the browns in the background which are respectively goldish, purplish and softish browns.

Pinecone pictured beside paler shades of yarn sequenced from top to bottom, 202, 2, 61, FC45 and 32

Then for the pattern, to speak to how the light hits the sticky pinecone spines, I chose 202, 2, 61, FC45 and 32 which I’d describe as cool cream, warm brown, milky coffee, caramel and cinnamon brown.

These colours have been comforting to knit and the connection between the pinecone and the restorative pleasures of walking in the Harris Garden drew me back there a couple of weekends ago to share my knitting with its inspiration source and to learn more about the tree that made the pinecone.

Himalayan White Pine

It’s a Himalayan White Pine. it is tall and lovely.

Looking up into the branches of the Himalayan White Pine

Himalayan White Pine needles

You can make tea from its needles;

Himalayan White Pine Needle Tea

you can make incense from the dried, resinous pinecones;

incense bowl with resinous pine cone smoking in it

you can sit underneath it and knit.

Felix sitting underneath the Himalayaln White Pine and knitting

Knitting needles and yarns on the forest floor underneath the pine tree

The whole experience of knitting from the tree, reading about the tree and studying the fruits of the tree sent me down a rabbit-hole of ALL THINGS PINE.

Pinecone rubber stamp and Pinecone armwarmers

While knitting my Skystone Armwarmers, I decided to split-splice my ends together as I went, rather than weave them all in at the end. Various techniques exist, but I like to run a needle-tip through an inch or so of each of the yarns I wish to join, separating the two plies. I then lay the four plies of yarn side by side in the palm of my hand, spritz them with water, then roll vigorously between my palms until they are felted together. I have a tiny aluminium bottle for spritzing while I splice to which I had the idea to add a few drops of pine and cedar essential oils. This made my knitting smell nice while I worked on it, but it also kept bringing me back to the joy of the tree that had inspired it.

Skystone armwarmers in pinecone colourway

It’s been so amazing to be part of this KAL and to find all the different ways in which other comrades are inspired to turn everyday life into stranded colourwork. There’s a great post mentioning some of the different projects here on the Arnall-Culliford blog and the projects on Ravelry offer a real feast of colours.

There is so much colour and joy in the KAL thread, that I was inspired to produce a special playlist dedicated to exploring the theme of colours in sounds, songs and soundart – subscribers to my newsletter will hear more about that in coming days.

For now, I’ve been working on a more forest-themed playlist. Knitting my pinecone into a pair of armwarmers has deepened my appreciation for the Himalayan White Pine, and given these cooler August days a soft brown edge – a whisper – of autumn.


Pinecone Armwarmers, incense, prints and glove blockers

3 thoughts on “Under the Himalayan White Pine

  1. Oh, Autumn. Hurry up! Great post, Ms. Knitsonic. I can almost smell the pine and the finished mitts are a fine tribute to this lovely tree.

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