Swatches – My Secret Weapon

While looking for something completely different, I came across a decidedly squishy plastic bag. I was delighted by what I found inside:

Swatches - brown

Swatches - green

A whole pile of swatches for long-ago projects that had long fulfilled their original purpose. A wonderful heathered brown and a light green would be perfect for covering more of my platform!

I want the whole platform to be covered in something or other before adding the bushes and trees, so I started by deconstructing the current setup so I could rebuild it from the ground up. I could do that easily because I’m using pins to attach things to the platform, which works well through the fabric into the cardboard and allows me to move stuff around easily. Here’s what I ended up with:

Swatches - deconstructed platform

Looks like quite a lot, doesn’t it? When I started covering the platform, I found out that even with my newfound treasure it’s far from enough to even cover a single platform:

Swatches - back of platform

I mostly used the swatches for the backside of the platform, hoping for more interesting things for the front. Putting everything flat I have till now back on, the platform still isn’t completely full:

Swatches - platform from the front

In fact, there’s still lots of work ahead. It’s also becoming clear that knitting and crochet will have to be the main crafts employed – the embroidery pieces add interest, but they’re way too time-consuming to be effective for the bigger areas.

While there’s still more ground to cover, those swatches helped me to make quite a bit of progress. Do you have swatches from old projects lying around in the right colours? If yes, please bring them to Dublin so we can cover some ground with them and concentrate on making the interesting parts!

On the other hand, if you want to make ground coverings from scratch, please consider making your pieces not quadratic or rectangular. I think the current setup does need more bits and pieces with flowing outlines, so the result doesn’t look too artificial. While those platforms definitely have been at least partly formed by Raksuran influence, they do have a natural feel in my mind – think small-time agriculture as opposed to factory farming.

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Lavender Field

While looking for more canvaswork stitches to turn into fields and gardens, I came across a post describing how to make “Victorian Fun-Fur“. Only instead of giant corduroy ridges, I immediately saw fields with carefully cultivated rows of produce.

Here’s my take:

Lavender Field

I used some leftover green and purple crewel wool taken together, varying the green with each thread, but keeping the purple. The result is quite muddy and dark, but has enough variation to feel natural, which was my aim.

Here’s a picture taken before I cut the threads open (sorry, the colour is awful in this one, much better in the image above):

Lavender Field before cutting

It really is magic when you cut those threads open and the whole piece transforms into something fluffy and three-dimensional! Fun to do and great visual interest for our model!

 

3D-Crochet at the Edge of the Platform

With this project, I’m always on the lookout for things that add a bit of dimension to otherwise flat knitted or crocheted items. We’ll need rather a lot of fabric covering the ground as well as the edges of the platforms, and I’d love to see lots of variety there, showing an abundance of life.

The piece I want to show to you today actually has an Irish connection: The idea is taken straight from the dimensional rose pattern often found in Irish Crochet Lace:Irish Crochet RoseThis image is taken from Thérèse de Dillmont’s “Irish Crochet Lace“. You can find scans of this book on the Weaving Digital Archives, which in spite of its name has lots of goodies for all kinds of needlecraft.

The basic idea used for the dimensional leaves on this rose is to work a round of chain stitches, which get covered in the following round with shells made from different stitches. The next round of chain stitches is then worked not on top of the shells, but into the previous round of chain stitches, making the next round of shells appear behind the previous one. And this is exactly the principle my sample uses:

3D-Crochet Sample, finished

In this view, the sample was worked from top to bottom. you can see a base row of chain stitches covered by a row of single crochet. Into this I worked the first row of chain stitches anchored with a single crochet every 5 stitches. On the way back, I worked a shell of seven stitches into every loop. One obvious difference to the rose pattern is that I worked the following row of chain stitches not over the same stitches, but I moved the pattern half a repeat over, so the shells are staggered from row to row. This took some fiddling at the beginning and end of row, but does make for a nice ground cover.

Hmm, I might need to come up with a step-by-step photo tutorial for this one? Please let me know if you want one.

The yarn choice this time was taking two different variegated threads together: a nice solid crochet cotton for stability, and a somewhat flaky green/violet wool for visual interest:

3D Crochet: Yarns

I’d love to have more of this kind of dimensional stuff, no matter in which craft! Please let me know if you have any ideas.

Making lots of pompoms at the same time

So, I showed you my Fibonacci tree, with its pompom leaves:

Fibonacci Tree - Finished

Winding pompoms can get quite labour-intensive if you need more than one, at least if you make them around cardboard circles (like I learnt to as a kid) or those modern plastic contraptions that work the same. Then I visited a friend’s workshop, who’s among other things a professional pompom-maker (yes, that’s actually a thing). And there I saw a much more efficient way to make lots of pompoms, and when I started this project, I knew I had to play around with a home-made version of this.

I even remembered to take pictures this time, so here’s how you do it:

First, you need two dowels or similar that are quite a bit apart to wind your threads around. For that purpose I had acquired a pair of cheap clamps a while ago. Installing them upside down on my couch table gives me this:

Pompoms - Winding the Thread

I grabbed a nice collection of different yarns to give some life to my leaves:

Pompoms - Yarns Used

I didn’t use them all in the same proportion – I made a couple of rounds with the sparkly green only between each round with all the yarns taken together. After I thought I had enough yarn wound, I started to bind the yarn bundle in regular distances, in this case every 5 centimetres. This will yield a pompom of about 5 centimetres in diameter. Leave the ends of the binding thread hanging, you’ll use them to attach the finished pompom to the tree.

Now comes the fun part: cut in the middle between each binding thread, and you’ll get this:

Pompoms - cut apart

Almost done! A bit of rolling between my hands gave this result:

Pompoms - Finished

Looking like a pretty good set of leaves. For a proper pompom, some more rounds of winding would have been better, but for our purpose, I like the slightly open look. Since the tree took only five pompoms, I have lots of leftovers, for another tree of the same species or some bushes, which would also look well made from pompoms piled over each other.

A Little Pond

There’s a surprising amount of water on those platforms: waterfalls coming from high up in the tree, little lakes, irrigation channels for the fields. So, we’ll need water. I tried a bit of free-form crochet to come up with this little pond:

The Pond

Again I used two yarns taken together, a solid turquoise cotton/poly blend and a blue variegated sock yarn:

Yarns used for Pond

I basically crocheted a spiral in the round, making wavy lines by changing stitches from single crochet to half-double to double and back, filling in the holes from previous rounds while trying not to get too regular. The pond measures about 10*13 centimetres. Here it is on the platform, surrounded by the beginnings of some tall grasses:

Samples showing the some of the different crafts possible.

 

The Fibonacci Tree

In addition to the Binary trees, the folks from the Botanica Mathematica project also posted a Fibonacci tree recipe. This gives us a different type of tree to play with, and one that arguably looks more natural as well.

Here’s my attempt, before stuffing and adding leaves, including the yarns used:Fibonacci Tree - unstuffed, with yarns

Again, I used a solid brown held together with a variegated sock yarn. To give the bark a bit of structure, I used a very simple pattern: one knit, one purl all the way round, and then exactly opposite the next round. Again, I used the recipe as a rough guideline rather than following the exact numbers of rounds indicated. I started with 21 stitches and worked my way up. In order to avoid an ugly seam somewhere, all my branches have an uneven number of stitches, so the pattern comes out right automatically when doing one knit, one purl in the round.

Here’s a peek at the finished tree:

Fibonacci Tree - Finished

If you like my pom-pom leaves, I’ll write about how to make lots of pom-poms in one go next time. It’s way more fun than making one at a time!

Crochet Leaves

So, you made your trees. Now we need leaves, since it’s not the middle of winter. I find crochet a good way to create leafy things, and I’ll show you two different kinds of crochet leaves today.

For the first tree, I did something very simple:

Knitted Binary Tree

I grabbed a light green yarn, taken together with a strand of my favourite technicolour shiny thread, and started working chain stitch loops around the ends of my branches. start with a single crochet stitch somewhere at the top, and work in rounds around the end of the branch until leafy enough. You could vary the number of chain stitches for each loop, but I didn’t in this case. It’s ten chain stitches for every loop.

Other possible variations on this:

  • Make your loops much longer, so you have hanging leaves
  • Work leaves much further down the branches
  • Include something fluffy in your yarn choice

Overall, this is simple, easy and reasonably fast, especially if you use a fairly big yarn, as I did here.

The second type of leaf is directly derived from Michelle’s Bookworm Recipe (Ravelry link). I used a light green variegated crochet thread, the stuff you’d use to make pretty doilies and similar. Much, much thinner than the yarn for the first tree. Basically, every leaf is made like the body of one of the bookworms from the pattern. Work a single crochet stitch into the branch, chain 10, and work your way back the chain working two double crochet stitches into every chain stitch. Repeat until bored. The result is pretty, but not noticeably more impressive than the simple chain stitches on the other tree.

Bookworm Leaves

I like the result, but I’ll probably go back to something a little bit faster for the next tree. The lesson I’m taking from that one is that it’s not always necessary to go for the complex and detailed solution, if something simpler and faster works just as well.