A lacy hyperbolic bush

I’ve got a collection of books reprinting fairly traditional crochet lace patterns, intended mostly for crocheting around handkerchiefs. Wouldn’t those make great edgings for hyperbolic shrubbery as well? Showing off all the different things we can do with our crafts is part of the point of this project, after all.

Here’s the finished piece, together with the pattern it came from:

Hyperbolic lace bush and instructions

And here’s a close up of the crochet edging:

Hyperbolic Lace Edging - Closeup

The edge itself is mostly straight, so I did fairly strong increases in the brown setup rows. The last brown row is the first row of the pattern, but I only made two chain stitches instead of the original five between stitches, so there is effectively some increasing in the second pattern row compared to that.

Here’s the finished piece installed at an edge of the platform:

Hyperbolic Bush - Installed

The brown is fairly floppy, being worked in treble crochet stitches instead of the double crochet of the other versions, and being crochet thread instead of thicker wool as well, but I do like the lighter appearance this has.


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!

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!

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.

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.


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.

Hyperbolic bushes – multicolour version

Those hyperbolic bushes seem to be addictive, I couldn’t help making another one! This time I tried to get a more naturalistic look by using different colours. Here’s the result:

Multicolour Shrub

And here are the yarns I used:

Multicolour Shrub - Yarns

From left to right I started the base and the first rows with the brown yarn as the branches. After a few rows, I doubled up the brown with the lovely multicolour green to depict older leaves growing on the lower branches. I then left out the brown and added the light green instead to show the fresh growth of young leaves.

For the last row, I stopped using the hyperbolic recipe and made a little fringe from the light green yarn only, working a single crochet in each stitch of the previous row with seven chain stitches between each single crochet. I think it works to make things look a bit less rigid:

Multicolour Shrub - Installed

I think variegated yarns, especially ones that mostly stay in one colour and don’t jump all over the colour wheel, are a great choice for making things look more organic. On the other hand, the way those hyperbolic bushes are worked “from the ground up”, it’s easy enough to switch and mix colours every few rows.

Stuffing the Tree

In the original recipe, the trees are just stuffed with toy stuffing. I wanted something a bit more sturdy and flexible, so it’s easy to adjust the branches later. So, here’s a walk-through on how to stuff your tree using chenille sticks (and other stuffing of your choice).

You’ll need half as many chenille sticks as your tree has branches, and a crochet hook that’s long enough to go all the way through the branches and small enough to insert at the top of the branch without breaking anything. My normal standard crochet hook does nicely, but the new ones with the ergonomic handles are probably not a good idea for that particular use.

So, here’s what you do: Take a chenille stick and fold it in half if it isn’t already. At both ends of the stick, turn the last bit of wire around so there’s something for your crochet hook to grab. You may also want to turn the trunk of your tree to the left side to make things easier. Now insert the crochet hook from the end of one of the branches and guide it down until it comes out at the trunk. This will look something like this:

Stuffing the Tree - Insert the Crochet Hook

You can just see both ends of the grey crochet hook: The handle sticks out of one set of leaves, and the tip just peeks out of the trunk. The crochet hook now sits exactly where we want the chenille stick to end up. Next the tip of the crochet hook is inserted into the turned end of the chenille stick:

Stuffing the Tree - Pulling the Chenille Stick Through

Now you can gently pull the crochet hook back until it’s almost at the end of the branch. The chenille stick will now be where it belongs, and you can carefully pull out the crochet hook. Repeat for the other end of the chenille stick with another branch. When there’s an end of chenille stick in every branch, turn the trunk back over. Depending on the height of your tree, the chenille sticks might poke out at the bottom. In that case, just bend them over so they fit. Fill in any holes in the trunk around the chenille sticks with filling. And finally it’s time to close that hole in the bottom. I like to use crochet for that since knitting on DPNs with that few stitches is no fun.

And here’s the finished tree, with artistically bent branches:

Knitted Binary Tree

Binary Trees

One of the most prominent features of the platforms will be the trees. Most likely stunted in their growth because they can’t root deeply in the platforms, our trees need to be a maximum of about 20 cm in height. Botanica Mathematica is a textile community project creating plant forms from mathematical principles and one of the main inspirations for this project.

The first trees I’ve been making for my sample platform are based on the Binary Bonsai pattern recipe from Botanica Mathematica. The basic recipe can be easily adapted to both knitting and crochet. I made a sample for both.

Knitted Tree

I started this tree with 32 stitches, using a solid brown yarn together with some variegated sock yarn leftovers. This is the first tree I made, and I promptly forgot to take loads of in progress pictures, so here’s the finished tree:Knitted Binary Tree

It’s pretty much invisible to see in this picture, but the trunk is mostly stockinette with a few patches of purls randomly distributed. Here’s a pic with both the knitted and the crocheted tree before stuffing, where you can see the colours and the structure a bit better:

Binary Trees before Stuffing

Crocheted Tree

The crocheted tree is basically made from the same recipe, also using a brown and a variegated yarn and starting with 32 stitches in the round. This time I did remember to take a picture before adding the leaves:

Crocheted Binary Tree

I didn’t manage to crochet the smallest branches with just four stitches in the round (although I’m sure there are amigurimi specialists out there who can do it), so I worked those flat along the long side: chain as many stitches as you want the branch to be long, and then work back and forth in single crochet a couple of times, attaching to the existing branch when you get there. For the last row crochet each stitch into the starting chain as well as into the previous row to close the tube.

General guidelines for making the trunk and branches

  1. These are organic structures. Vary the number of rounds for each segment and don’t worry too much about having the right number of stitches at every point. Variation is good!
  2. Add structure by using variegated yarns and/or different stitch patterns. There’s a post about how to add interest to your trunk still waiting to be written.
  3. Do add leaves of some description, we’re not in the middle of winter. There are lots of possibilities here that will deserve their own category, also still to be written.
  4. Here are instructions on how to stuff your tree using stuffing and chenille sticks for structural integrity.
  5. While this isn’t earth, we’re still going for browns and neutrals as the primary colours for the trunk and branches. Adding a different colour or a variegated yarn gives some additional interest and a more exotic feel.

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.