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

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Climbing Vine

A few weeks ago, on one of the first nice spring days, I went for a walk, camera in hand, in search of interesting structures in tree barks. Basically, I wanted to find more ideas on how to make interesting trees. The first one I came across wasn’t about the tree at all, though:

Tree with Climbing Vine

It was the single vine growing straight up the tree that captured my eye. That might be a possible use for my tatted vines, or maybe I could find another way to make something like this?

Crochet is fairly fast to do and has the possibility to easily create free forms. There’s lots of ideas of what you can do with just a crochet hook in areas like Irish crochet lace or in thread crochet in general. So, here’s my simplified version of that vine:

Crochet Vine

The stem are simply chain stitches, and the leaves are worked in pairs as follows: chain 8, with the last chain stitch being for turning. In the remaining 7 stitches work as follows on your way back to the stem: slip stitch, single crochet, half double, double, half double, single, slip stitch. Do the same again for the other leaf. To keep the leaves closely together, I worked a slip stitch into the last chain of the previous piece of stem before continuing by making the next piece of stem.

Towards the top of the vine I made the stem pieces shorter and the leaves smaller. This works by just working 6 or even 4 chain stitches and dropping out the middle part of the leaf: For 6 chain stitches the sequence goes slip stitch, single crochet, half double, single, slip stitch, and for 4 chain stitches it is slip stitch, single crochet, slip stitch. Come to think of it, odd numbers of chain stitches would also work, you’d just end up with two identical stitches next to each other in the middle, which nobody will see at the end.

(All crochet terms are US, because the UK terms confuse me. Here’s a comparison if you need to translate into UK terms.)

I then used some embroidery thread to stitch the vine to my tree:

Crochet Vine on Tree

I think it’s a good way to add some more interest to your tree!

Hyperbolic Shrubbery

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef was definitely one of the inspirations for this project. I’ve long been fascinated by hyperbolic crochet: I had the opportunity to add a small piece to the UK Reef way back in 2008, and I created and ran the Hyperbolic Crochet Community Project at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki in 2017.

The charm of hyperbolic crochet is that you can create organic forms using a very simple set of instructions. If you can create corals, why not leafy things as well? Here’s my result of trying to make a bit of shrubbery:

Hyperbolic Shrub

For this, I made a fairly long chain and then used single crochet (US term)/double crochet (UK term) working back and forth. The ruffling is created by increasing regularly at a fairly high rate, I increased every second stitch here, so two stitches in one row become three in the next. In the last couple of rows, I added some multicolour thread to the fairly light green base yarn for some visual interest. Doesn’t look like much, but makes exactly the right impression when installed:

Hyperbolic Shrubbery - Installed

To achieve this effect, I laid the base chain down in tight curves, forcing the ruffle to turn into itself and creating an impassable piece of shrubbery. I’m currently fixing all the bits and pieces to the platform using glass-head pins, in order to be able to move them around and rearrange them easily.

A hint on size: We’re going for trees with a maximum height of 20cm, assuming that would be about 20 metres in reality. So the distance between the base chain and the last row should be at most about 5 cm (2 inches), which would make a substantial stand of bushes around 5 metres tall.

Colours

This project is a great opportunity to use up all those half-balls and sad lonely leftovers from previous projects. To start with, I pulled everything I thought I’d be able to use from my own stash and sorted it into different colour groups. Here’s my picks, to help you guide your own choices:

Greens

This will be the dominant colour. Lots of leaves, grass, lianas, young greens on the fields. I’m basically thinking “Tropical Rain Forest” – plants of all sizes and shapes everywhere!

Colours - Greens

Looks like I’m a bit short on saturated greens, but those are a start.

Neutrals

Tree trunks, walkways, dirt, roots, stones can be created with different shades of brown and grey.

Colours - Neutrals

Blues

There are quite a few mentions of water in the description of the colony tree – water falls, ponds, irrigation channels.

Colours - Blues

Accents

And to round it all out, here’s all the other colours of the rainbow – as accent colours, for flowers, fruit and everything else.

Colours - Accents

For example, I’m quite fond of the cone of technicolour thread on the upper left of that picture. Adding it to some green gives a nice sparkle to leaves!

The Books of the Raksura

Our project is inspired by Martha WellsBooks of the Raksura-Series, which was nominated for a Best Series Hugo in 2018. I’m pretty sure I was among the people who nominated the series. I highly recommend starting with the first volume in the series, The Cloud Roads, although the descriptions that sparked the idea for this project come from the second volume, The Serpent Sea.

The forest of mountain-trees where the Raksura colonies make their homes makes its first appearance in the first chapter of The Serpent Sea. Travelling in a flying ship, the Valendera, the exiled members of the Indigo Cloud Court approach their ancient homeland:

Not far below the ship he could see platforms covered with greenery standing out from the trees and completely encircling the trunks, connecting the trees to each other in a web, many more than large enough for the Valendera to set down on. They looked like tethered chunks of sky-island, covered with grass and flowers, dripping with vines, most supporting glades of smaller trees. But as the ship drifted closer to one, he saw the platforms were thick branches that had grown together and intertwined in broad swathes, catching windblown dirt and seeds until they built up into solid ground.

The platforms of the suspended forest grew wider and more extensive. Many of them overlapped, or were connected by broad branches, with ponds or streams. Waterfalls fell from holes in some of the mountain-sized trees. … It was like a whole multi-layered second forest hanging between the tree canopy and the ground, somwhere far below.

From the lower part of the trunk, greenery platforms extended out, multiple levels of them, some more than five hundred paces across. A waterfall fell out of a knothole nearly big enough to sail the Valendera through, plunged down to collect in a pool on one of the platforms, then fell to the next, and the next, until it disappeared into the shadows below.

Martha Wells, The Serpent Sea, Chapter One