Edge and Ground Cover Using Short Rows

I continue to realize that while trees and bushes and lianas are loads of fun to make, what we’ll probably need the most of will be various types of ground cover. These can be simple and mindless, but also a good way to try out different techniques. Today’s swatch uses something that can be found on the internet under the term “Swing Knitting”. I haven’t been able to find a good tutorial, though. Using a variegated grey/black sock yarn, I made this:

Swing Knitting - Flat

Basically, what you’re doing is working short rows in your piece, meaning you turn around in the middle of a row somewhere. Here’s a good tutorial how to do that: German Short Row video tutorial. To keep your piece roughly rectangular and not bunching up in places where you don’t want that, you will need to knit the now “missing” stitches of your row at some point, but that point doesn’t need to be right now, in fact, in can be several rows later. The rows in the picture look like they’re not all parallel, and that isn’t an illusion, they aren’t. Direction of knitting is from the bottom up. If you look at the area above the yellow and orange pins in the middle, you see two knit triangles with a diagonal purled line in between. The right triangle was worked first, making ever shorter rows. Then I purled a few rows to create the diagonal line. Then I worked the second knit triangle, and as a bonus, I worked the longest row first, so this triangle appears to be knit diagonally. It is important to put a marker where you’re turning your short rows, so you know to which place you need to knit when creating the complementary short row from the other side later. When you do that, you can remove that marker.

Here’s the piece installed on the edge of the platform:

Swing Knitting - Installed

I think it gives a nice organic effect. Next time, I might mix things up even more by using different yarns for the different areas – for example grey and green to show that some of that rock is covered by moss or grass.

 

A Ribbed Tree

I’ve been taking pictures of interesting tree trunks in order to come up with more ideas on how to make the trunks of my trees. I really liked this one, with its deep ridges:

Inspiration for the Ribbed Tree

This reminded me of the deep open ridges of brioche stitch, which can easily be worked in the round. So I started with my usual 32 stitches for a binary tree, and worked the first two sections (with 32 and 16 stitches) in brioche stitch. For the third section (8 stitches), I switched to a simple 1×1 rib, and the last section is i-cord, as usual. This is what I ended up with:

Ribbed Tree - Trunk

It’s a fairly fat trunk, since brioche stitch tends to spread quite a bit, but I like the effect. For the leaves, I wanted to try to create something along the lines of a weeping willow. I grabbed three different green threads, cut longish sections, and knotted six strands at a time into the tips of the branches, with three sets per tip. To do this, double up your bunch of threads, insert a big enough crochet hook into the branch, pull the doubled up loop through, and then the ends of the bunch throug the loop. Tighten up the knot – easy and fast! This is what the result looks like:

Ribbed Tree with Added Leaves

After stuffing and with the help of gravity, here’s our weeping willow:

Weeping Willow - Finished

More Vines and Lianas

I’ve been playing with my crochet hooks again… trying to come up with different ways to create hanging vines and lianas that can fall over the edge of the platform. It’s fun, and a bit addictive. Basically, I took a sturdy yarn and worked a couple of rows of single crochet to serve as a foundation, and now I’m starting a vine from every stitch in the row. The foundation is the light brown piece in the pictures below. It has a tendency to curl, but it will be easy to pin down straight when I’m finished.

Here’s the first variation:

Liana with leaves

I took a dark brown and a variegated green sock yarn together and made a chain using a 3mm hook. Periodically, I made a pair of leaves only using the green and a 2mm hook. The leaves are the same ones as in my last post, just worked with thicker yarn. They do curl up a bit, which isn’t a problem since in the end this will all just be a thick tangle of vines and leaves. You can also see that I just looped back to the foundation at the end rather then cutting my thread and starting new. Even if that’s not like nature would do it, it does give me two lianas for the price of one, and the thread ends up where I need it next, for the second variation:

Hanging vine with loops

This is the simplest vine I made – I dropped the brown yarn and only used the green. As before, I started chaining, and added simple leaves by making more chain stitches and connecting them into a loop with a slip stitch – basically an oversized picot. I eventually looped back towards the top again, this time periodically attaching my chain with a few slip stitches to the downward leg and working a few smaller loops to make things more dense. This is a pretty simple way to get some satisfying results!

And because I just couldn’t resist, here’s a binary tree liana:

Binary Liana

In fact, this is a perfectly balanced complete binary tree directly from the textbook. Again I used the brown and green together for the stem. I started with four chain stitches for each section, and the tree is four sections deep. So there’s 16 chain stitches to start, then I worked two leaves – again following the recipe in this post – worked four slip stitches up the previous chain, another four chain stitches down to the next set of leaves, then 8 slip stitches up to the next division, 8 chain stitches down and so on, until I had a complete tree. This was done completely regularly, but of course you could play with making the branches different lengths, or leaving some branches out, to get a more natural result.

There’s quite a few more foundation stitches left, let’s see what happens next! I think just playing with using different yarns and the same ideas could give enough variety to keep my entertained for a while!