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Gifts of Love

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.

Our gifts of love include:

  • Meditation Shawl
  • Chai Tea
  • Yoga Mat Bag
  • Easy Eye Pillow
  • Energizing Gel

Meditation Shawl


To make the shawl pictured on page 67, our knitter, Patricia Bearden, chose an Old Shale stitch pattern. She also used a simple seed stitch border, which doesn’t show in the photo, to give the shawl a subtle edge at the sides.

She used 9 skeins of Kersti Merino Crepe by Koigu Wool Designs 100-percent Merino wool yarn and size 9 circular needles for a shawl that measures approximately 21 inches by 70 inches.

This is a project for experienced knitters:

Old Shale pattern repeats as a multiple of 18 stitches plus 1. To create a shawl like the one Bearden made, using a similar weight yarn and needle size, cast on 299 stitches: that’s 16 sets of 18 stitches (or 288 stitches); plus 1 stitch; plus 10 stitches (for a border of 5 stitches each edge), which you will knit in seed stitch.

To use the yarn and needle size of your choice, create a 19-stitch swatch to gauge size. Use gauge to determine how many multiples of 18 stitches you will need for the desired shawl length.

Cast on 5 stitches, place a marker, then cast on your multiple of 18 plus 1, place another marker and cast on 5 more.

Row 1: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) knit to next marker K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 2: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) *K1, (K2tog) 3 times, (YO, K1) 5 times, YO, (K2tog) 3 times: repeat

from *, ending K1 (marker) K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 3: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) Knit to marker, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 4: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) Knit to marker, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 5: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) Purl to marker, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Repeat Rows 2-5 (the Old Shale pattern) as many times as you like to get the desired shawl width. (For the pictured shawl, Bearden repeated the pattern 14 times until the shawl measured about 14 inches.)

For Top Border:

Row 1: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) Knit to marker (marker) K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 2: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) Knit to marker, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 3: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) Knit to marker, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 4: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 (marker) Purl to marker, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Repeat Top Border Rows 1-4 as many times as you like to get desired look. (For the pictured shawl, Bearden repeated the pattern 7 times until the shawl measured a total of about 20 inches.)

Finish with 5 rows of garter stitch. Bind off.

Chai Tea

Recipe used with permission from The Modern <a href=”/health/ayurveda“>Ayurvedic Cookbook, by Amrita Sondhi (Arsenal Pulp Press).

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, grated

1 2-inch piece cinnamon bark (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

  1. In a frying pan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and toast for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  2. In a clean coffee grinder, grind masala in batches. Then mix together and store in an airtight container.
  3. Tie a note around the masala container with a note that says:
    In a small pot, bring to a boil:

    1 scant cup water

    1/4 teaspoon chai mix Let simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat, and add:

    1 teaspoon of loose-leaf black tea Let steep for a minute, then strain and add:

    1/4 cup milk

    Sweetener to taste Enjoy!

Or try this chai mix recipe from Beth Baker, a personal chef and the principal cook at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California.

11⁄2 teaspoons coriander seeds

3 tablespoons fresh cardamom pods

1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

1 dash allspice

3/4 teaspoon licorice root (optional)

Good-quality black tea

  1. Grind the coriander seeds and cardamom pods in a spice grinder.
  2. In a bowl, mix the ground spices, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, allspice,
    and optional licorice root.
  3. Pour the chai mix into a clean jar and the black tea in another jar. Tie a
    note around them with the following instructions:To make an herbal chai you can sip all day, follow step 1 below, strain, and
    add extra hot water as necessary. For a rich and heavenly pick-me-up, follow
    steps 2, 3, and 4 to add the milk (dairy or non), black tea, and sweetener.
    Chai mix

    2 cups water

    1/3 cup ginger, finely chopped

    3 cups milk

    2 or 3 tablespoons black tea leaves

    2 to 3 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or sugar 1. Bring the chai mix, water, and ginger to a boil.

    2. Lower heat, add milk, and cook until it reaches a low boil. Stir
    continuously so as not to scorch it.

    3. Add black tea and simmer for 5 minutes.

    4. Strain and sweeten to taste.

Yoga Mat Bag

Materials needed

1 yard of fabric at least 45 inches wide

1 yard of wide ribbon, binding, or cord for strap

1/2 yard of cord for drawstring

  1. Cut the fabric

    First, measure your yoga mat. Loosely roll up your mat and measure the length and the circumference. Cut a rectangle from your fabric. The length will be the length of your yoga mat plus 4 5/8 inches, and the width will be the circumference of your mat plus 11/4 inches. For example: If your rolled-up mat is 21 inches in length and has a circumference of 20 inches, the rectangle needs to be 25 and 5/8 inches long and 21 and one quarter inches wide. For the bottom of the yoga mat bag, cut a circle that is the circumference of your mat plus 1 and one fourth inches. For example: If your mat’s circumference is 20 inches, cut a circle that is 21 and one quarter inches in circumference. Cut a strap that is the same length as your yoga mat, which in our example is 21 inches.

  2. Make a tube
    Pin the ends of the strap to the right side of the rectangle at points E and F (see diagram), about 3 inches from the top and bottom of the rectangle. With the wrong side of the fabric facing out, sew edges A and B together with a 5/8-inch seam to form a tube. The strap will be inside the tube. Stop sewing 2 inches from the top edge (C).
  3. Create an opening for the drawstring
    Turn the top edge (C) of the tube under 1 inch, then stitch 5/8 inch from the fold to create a channel for the drawstring.
  4. Attach the bottom fabric to the tube
    Pin the circle to the bottom edge (D) of the tube (right side to right side) and stitch together with a 5/8-inch seam.
  5. Insert drawstring
    Turn tube right side out. Thread the drawstring through the channel. Tie the ends of the drawstring to close bag, or secure ties with a toggle.

Pattern adapted with permission from

Easy Eye Pillow

Materials You’ll Need (makes one eye pillow)

For the pillow

1/2 yard of fabric that has been washed, dried, and ironed

For the filling

1/2 cup dried beans or flax seeds

1/2 cup dried rice, lentils, or buckwheat

1/2 cup dried lavender or chamomile

When selecting the filling consider the recipient’s scent preferences and any potential allergies. Mix together three or all of the above items. You’ll need 1 1/2 cups total.

Make the Pillow

  1. Cut the fabric
    Using a ruler and pencil, mark two 4 1/2-by-10-inch rectangles on the wrong (nonprinted) side of the fabric. With a pair of scissors, cut along the marks to create the two panels needed for the pillow.
  2. Sew the seams
    Place the two panels’ right (printed) sides together, with the raw edges aligned. Stitch a 1/2-inch seam around the raw edges, backstitching (sewing first in reverse, then forward over the same stitches) at each end. Leave one of the 4-inch sides open, so you can later add the filling. Stitch a 3/8-inch reinforcement seam around the raw edges, leaving the same 4-inch opening. This reinforcement will ensure that the mixture doesn’t leak out of the pillow after you’ve filled it. With your scissors, cut two 1/4-inch notches in each seam allowance (the area between the stitching and the raw, cut edge of the fabric), one on either side of each of the four corners, making sure not to clip the stitching. Turn the eye pillow right side out for the next step.
  3. Fill the pillow
    Spoon 1 1/2 cups of filling into the pillow’s open seam.
  4. Close the final seam
    Fold each side of the remaining 4-inch seam 1/2 inch toward the inside of the pillow, and pin the opening closed. Either by hand or with a sewing machine, stitch a seam across the folded edges to close the 4-inch opening, then try out the pillow before wrapping it up: Lie down, put it over your eyes, and treat yourself to 5 minutes of deep relaxation.

Energizing Gel

Recipe used with permission from ECOBEAUTY, by Lauren Cox with Janice Cox (Ten Speed Press, 2009)

Peppermint Oil is a well-known energizer, and when combined with aloe and witch hazel, it makes for an elixir that will instantly wake up and slow or tired muscles. This light, nongreasy recipe makes a great gift for an active friend.

1/2 cup aloe vera gel

1 tablespoon witch hazel

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 – 4 drops peppermint oil

  1. Combine the aloe vera, witch hazel, and cornstarch on the stovetop in a double boiler. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Stir until all of the ingredients are well mixed, and then allow the mixture to cool.
  2. Add the peppermint oil and stir thoroughly. Pour into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry, dark place, where it will keep for 3 to 4 weeks.
  3. To use, massage gel into sore muscles for an instant cooling sensation.