It can be awfully hard to pinpoint where an idea began it’s journey toward fruition. I’ve wanted to design my own tree of life motif for years, and finally picked up a hook to start experimenting with it just a few months ago. I vaguely thought about adding the motif to the middle of the vest design I was working on, and so I tinkered until this was possible and set down a general framework for the pattern. Today I finally finish this saga, with the premier of the Embla Vest crochet pattern – available as a downloadable, printable, ad-free PDF in my Etsy Shop and Ravelry Store ❤
During the making of this pattern, life happened, and then death happened. In the course of this, the Embla Vest became very personal to me (more so than other designs, although it’s hard to judge) and getting through the process of creating this pattern became a journey of emergence. I’m so glad I’m here now! Ha 🙂
The vest design itself was inspired by several stylistic sources including steampunk waistcoats and some of my personal crochet heroes’ designs, and I made SO MANY of them before I settled on what looked accurate to the vision in my mind’s eye. The resulting design is the new award winner for Most Drafts Crocheted, a title formerly held by the Ida Shawl (worth it in both cases!)
Yes, there was struggle and heartache. Through it all, I kept creating – because there isn’t any other way. I hope you love this design as much as I do, and I hope you make it for someone you love and they love it, too ❤ Read on for the full details!
The Embla Vest is a playful and versatile garment inspired by the Norse creation myth, in which the gods breath life into a dead tree to create the first woman, named Embla. I drew from many different design elements to create this unique and customizable piece of wearable crochet art.
This circular vest is worked in the round, featuring a stunning Tree of Life motif in the center and blends beautifully outwards in #4 worsted weight variegated yarn to make the perfect lightweight layering piece.
In addition to the FIVE sizes (XS-XL) this vest features lots of customizing options, including instructions for a solid back (alternative or in addition to the Tree of Life), sleeves, and hood! Create a structured, waistcoat look by working the buttons instructions, or make a fairy tail cardigan featuring a lace-up front. All sizes and styles fit with a wrapping collar, a dainty pointed back, and front panels that draw away in a figure taper.
Materials: 4.5 mm hook Lion Brand Shawl in a Cake or Shawl in a Ball (#4 weight, 150 g, 481 yds) Main Vest: 1, 1, 1, 2, 2 skeins Hood: ½ skein Sleeves: 1 skein Tree Motif – 50 yds Lion Brand 24/7 Cotton (#4 weight, 100 g / 186 yds) Scissors Tapestry Needle Stitch Markers
Sizes and Finished Measurements: X-Small (XS), Small (SM), Medium (MD), Large (LG), X-Large (XL) Finished measurements are approximate Bust: 30”, 34”, 38”, 42”, 46” Length (back collar to bottom point): 19”, 21”, 23”, 25”, 27” Arm Opening (circumference): 9”, 10”, 11”, 12”, 13”
All instructions are written in English in U.S terminology.
In the outdoor photoshoot I am proud to be sporting 100% handmade/small business apparel – here’s where it’s all from! Floral Berry Crown: @daizel_doozle Hi-Lo Scrunchie Dress: Elven Forest Tie-Dye Yoga Pants: Dimples Dyes Macrame necklace & bracelet: Selinofos Art
This post will be a quick one, so I can get back to my lazy Sunday afternoon sloth-fest, but I’ve managed to create a video tutorial for the first 6 rounds of the Tree of Life Mandala pattern and wanted to share it as soon as I could 🙂
This video is full-length up to Round 6, so that all the intricate workings of the branches are available to see in real time. Since some bits of it are a little complex, I knew that a video would be eventually if not immediately necessary. I hope it’s helpful!
If you’ve been keeping up with Morale Fiber lately you’ll notice that videos have quickly become a regular feature and I hope to continue that trend – so like and subscribe to my channel if you don’t want to miss anything 🙂
Who doesn’t love trees?! Besides being one of the most successful life forms on Earth, trees are the lungs of our planet. Majestic and sometimes dangerous they are also, but I think one of the main reasons we humans have such a symbolic attachment to the Tree as a concept is that we tend to project ourselves onto them.
With their roots-like-feet, their strong trunk torsos, and their reaching arms of branches, it’s easy to turn them into a metaphor against which we contrast our own sense of existence. They grow taller as they age, they occur in all environments, they group themselves together, and recent science has even discovered that they communicate with each other.
For me, it has always seemed natural to speak with trees. And yeah… to hug them. 🙂 I’ve always felt that they had a Presence which ought to always be acknowledged and I’ve been drawn to tree and forest imagery my whole life. I was stoked when I found this adorable crocheted Tree of Life motif from 365 Crochet and instantly tried it out as a feature of one of my pixie belts. It’s quite an excellent little free pattern!
The Tree of Life concept occurs in several cultural stories. My familiarity with it came originally from Yggdrasil, the World Tree of Norse mythology that holds all the worlds from its roots to its branches. Since I’m so attached to this symbolism, I wanted to attempt my own crocheted version of the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life mandala features an intricate central tree motif, worked in the round using a variety of crochet stitches. The intertwining branches are worked in layers, with double-treble stitches criss-crossing and forming the signature woven look of the Tree of Life symbolism. Though it looks complex, the central motif is easy when taken step by step, especially since the tutorial includes 50+ detailed tutorial photos with figure references to the written pattern!
Once I had honed my Tree pattern to satisfaction, I realized the mandala version would make a perfect dreamcatcher-style wall hanging and set about to providing this FREE tutorial for the project! You can also buy the downloadable, printable, ad-free PDF file for this crochet pattern from my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Pattern Store.
I’ve got a few more concepts cooked up for this pretty little piece in the future that I’m very excited about 😉 So be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow me on Facebook!
Tree of Life Mandala Wall Hanging
Materials: 4.50 mm hook #4 worsted weight yarn in solid color – I used Lion Brand 24/7 Cotton #3 or #4 weight yarn in accent color – I used King Cole Riot DK for the rainbow Tree and Malabrigo Rios for the autumnal Tree. 1 14” bamboo or wood hoop (I used an embroidery hoop from the hobby store) Scissors & Tapestry needle
Stitches and Techniques: Magic Ring – A short tutorial can be found under this pattern on my blog. Hdc – half double crochet Ch – chain Sl st – Slip Stitch Sc – Single crochet Dc – Double crochet Tr – treble crochet (YO x 2, insert hook in next st and draw up a loop. YO and draw through 2 loops x 3) Dtr – double treble crochet (YO x 3, insert hook in next st and draw up a loop. YO and draw through 2 loops x 4)
Gauge: Not critical. The trunk of the tree should be about 1.25 inches in width and the tree itself should be about 4.5 inches tall from root to top branch after Round 3.
Notes: The outer yarn used to border the Tree of Life can be #3 or #4 weight. If using a thick and/or stiffer #4 weight, check to make sure your piece isn’t getting too big for the hoop. You may need to omit a round of solid Hdc – the mandala needs to stretch tightly over the hoop once finished.
Make Magic Ring – fig. 1
Rnd 1: Ch 2 (does not count as first hdc), 12 hdc into the
ring – fig.2. Join with a sl st in the first hdc of the round. Tighten
the ring to close – fig.3
Rnd 2: Sl st in the next
st, 1 sc in the next st. (1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 hdc) in the next st – fig. 4.
1 sc in the next st, sl st in ea of the next 2 sts – fig. 5. 1 sc in the
next st, hdc in the next st. (1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 hdc) in the next st. 1 hdc in the
next st, 1 sc in the next st. Sl st in the next st. – fig. 6
Rnd 3: LIMBS: Sl
st in the next 3 sts. – fig 7. Ch 2, 1 dc in the same st – fig 8.
Ch 2 – fig 9, 1 dc in the side of last dc. Ch 3 – fig 10. Slip
stitch back down the side of the dc’s. (1st limb made) – fig 11.
Sl st in the next st. *Ch 2 – fig 12, dc in the same st. (Ch 2, dc in
the side of last dc) twice – fig 13. Ch 3. Slip stitch back down the
sides of the dc’s, sl st in next st. – fig 14. (2nd limb
made). Repeat from * for 3rd limb – fig. 15. Ch 2, 1 dc in
the same st. Ch 2, 1 dc in the side of the last dc. Ch 3 – fig 16. Slip
stitch back down the side of the dc’s (4th limb made) – fig 17.
Sl st in the next 5 sts. – fig 18.
Rnd 3 Ct’d: ROOTS: *Ch 2, dc in the same st. – fig 19, Ch 3 – fig 20, slip st down the side of the dc – fig 21. Sl st in the next st. Rpt from * 3 more times. – figs 22-24. Sl st in the next 3 sts.
Rnd 4: Ch 5 – fig 25, sc in the ch-3 loop at the top of the 1st limb – fig 26. Ch 3 – fig 27, double treble (dtr) in the middle of the 2nd limb – fig 28–29. Ch 3 – fig 30, dtr in the middle of the 1st limb – fig 31. Ch 3, sc in the ch-3 loop at the top of the 2nd limb – fig 32. Ch 3, dtr in the middle of the 3rd limb – fig 33. Ch 3, dtr in the middle of the 2nd limb – figs 34-35. Ch 3, sc in the ch-3 loop at the top of the 3rd limb. Ch 3 – fig 36, dtr in the middle of the 4th limb – fig 40. Ch 3, dtr in the middle of the 3rd limb. Ch 3 – fig 41, sc in the ch-3 loop at the top of the 4th limb. Ch 5 – fig 42, sl st one st away from the base of the 4th limb. Sl st in the next 3 sts – fig 43.
Fig. 28 – YO 3 times
to begin dtr
Fig. 29 – insert hook
into the middle of 2nd limb, draw up a loop. (YO and draw through 2
loops) 4 times. Dtr made.
Rnd 5: Sl st up the ch sts on the side of the 1st
root. Sl st into the ch-3 loop at the top – fig 44. Ch 3, (counts as
first hdc + ch-1), hdc in the same space – fig 45. (Ch 3, 1 hdc in the
next ch-3 loop. Ch 1, 1 hdc in the same sp) 3 times. Ch 8 – fig 46-47.
(1 dc in the next ch-3 space between branches – fig 48, ch 2, 1 dc in
the same space) 9 times – fig 49. Ch 8. Sl st in the 2nd ch
of beginning ch-3 to join – fig 50.
Rnd 6 (Change color): With new yarn, join in the 5th
ch-2 space of previous round – positioning your hook in the middle of the
branches. Ch 2 – fig 51 (does not count as first hdc). 2 hdc in the same
space. (4 hdc in the next ch-2 space) 4 times – fig 52. 10 hdc in the next ch-8 space – fig 53.
(1 hdc in the ch-1 space of the next root. 3 hdc in the next ch-3 space- fig
54.) 3 times. 1 hdc in the next ch-1 space. 10 hdc in the next ch-8 space –
fig 55. (4 hdc in the next ch-2 space) 4 times. 3 hdc in the next space,
join with a sl st to the first hdc of the rnd – fig 56. – 70 sts
Rnd 7: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc), 1 hdc in the same
st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 5 sts. 2 hdc in the next st – fig 57. (1 hdc
in ea of the next 6 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) 9 times. Join with a sl st – fig
58.– 80 sts
Rnd 8: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc), 1 hdc in the same
st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 6 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in ea of the
next 7 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) 9 times. Join with a sl st. – fig 59 –
Rnd 9: Ch 1 (does not count), 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in
ea of the next 7 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in ea of the next 8 sts, 2
hdc in the next st) 9 times. Join with a sl st. – fig 60 -– 100 sts
Rnd 10: Ch 4 (counts as first dc + ch 1). Dc in the same st.
(Sk next 2 sts, 1 dc, ch 2, 1 dc in the next st) rpt around. Join with a sl st
in the 3rd ch of beginning ch-4.
Rnd 11: Sl st to the next ch-2 space. Ch 5 (counts as first dc + ch 2). Dc in the same space. (1 dc, ch 2, 1 dc in the next space) around. Join with a sl st to the 3rd ch of beginning ch-4. – fig 61.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for attaching – fig
62. Weave in other ends.
Attaching & Finishing
Using the long tail left from Round 11, thread yarn on a
tapestry needle. Center your piece inside the hoop – fig 63.
Stitch the piece onto the hoop, making your needle pass
around the hoop and under the last row of the piece, between the dc’s (not the
chain spaces). Work the piece all the way around, adjusting tension and
tightening as needed to create an even appearance. The piece will be stretched!
– fig 64 – 66
To make sure my tension is even, I like to cut another long
strand of thread and go back over the piece in the opposite direction – fig 67.
This is optional.
With new yarn, attach to a ch-2 space on Rnd 11. Working by inserting the hook
under both the chain-2 space and under the hoop, YO and draw up a loop. Work 1
hdc around the hoop and the chain space. The entire border round works around the
hoop – this can be a little tricky at first, but be patient! It gets easier. In
the same chain space, work 1 dc, 1 tr, ch 2, 1 tr, 1 dc, and 1 hdc – fig. 68.
Sc between the next pair of dc’s – fig 69. *(1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 tr, ch 2, 1 tr,
1 dc, 1 hdc) in the next ch 2 space, 1 sc between the next 2 dc sts. Rpt from *
around. – figs 70-71
Join the final round with a slip stitch in the first hdc. Cut yarn and tie off, weave in all remaining ends. You could also add tassels, fringe, extra leaves (I have a good candidate, a free pattern for leaves), or charms to personalize your new Tree of Life wall hanging!