Lingonberry Afghan Square

From Crafts

Lingonberries! Hardy to 50 below zero Fahrenheit, lingonberries are a favorite in Sweden and deserve more recognition in the States. Lee Reich likes them better than their relatives,  cranberries, because when they are utterly ripe you can eat them straight from the bush without needing to drown them in sugar. The plants stay short, with the tallest varieties topping out at maybe 12 inches – the smaller varieties are nice creeping things that root wherever their branches touch the earth, forming a nice groundcover. They do prefer acidic soil, like their relatives the blueberries – which does make them impractical to grow in ground culture in North Dakota. Container culture would work – or if you’re willing to add sulfur to acidify the soil, lingonberries would make a good component of an acid-loving guild.

Each branch is worked in one piece, with the leaves attached, to reduce the tedium as much as possible. Worked in sport or fingering weight, the leaf structure would also work for creeping herbs like oregano or thyme. The branches are intentionally different lengths to give a more organic feel. Unfortunately the berries are worked individually, and sewn to the branches; then all are appliqued onto a ridged “paving-stone” background.

Wikipedia Commons

Wikipedia Commons' Vaccinium vitis-idaea, the tall version.

 Dave’s Garden has a really nice photo of the shorter creeping version.

Suggested Yarn:

  • For the background, 1 skein of Cascade 220 wool in color 8407 tan. You’ll use 3/4 of it.
  • For the leaves, 1 skein of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in color Grass.
  • For the berries, 1 skein of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in color Cranberry.

Tools: F hook (3.75 mm), H hook (5.0 mm), yarn needle. You will greatly appreciate one of those curved handsewing needles, for attaching the leaves to the background without disturbing your arrangement. You might also enjoy a campy zombie movie to watch while making the berries so you don’t go insane.

Paving Stone Background: Gauge 4st/4 rows to an inch in pattern

  1. With H hook and background color, ch 25. Starting in second chain from hook, sc back across (24 stitches.) Ch1 and turn.
  2. *Sc in both loops, sc in back loop only 22x, sc in both loops. Ch 1 and turn. * Repeat from * for 24 rows. If you tug gently widthwise you should be able to shape this into a square. It probably won’t stay there for now, but that’s ok.
  3. Rotate the piece so the rows are running vertically, and your starting ch1 is to the right. *Sc in both loops, sc in back loop only 22x, sc in both loops, ch 1 and turn. * Repeat from * for 24 rows.
  4. Rotate the piece so this section runs vertically, and your starting ch1 is to the right. *Sc in both loops, sc in back loop only 22x, sc in both loops, ch 1 and turn. * Repeat from * for 24 rows.  Cut yarn and fasten off.
  5. Rotate the piece to form a backwards L shape, with the missing square at the top right. Join yarn at the rightmost edge and work left:  *sc in both loops, sc in back loop only 22x, sc in both loops. Join with sl st to corresponding sc in the fabric on the left. Sl st in next sc in the fabric on the left (this serves as your ch 1), and turn. Sc in both loops, sc in back loop only 22x, sc in both loops. Ch 1 and turn.* Repeat the two rows inside the * for a total of 24 rows.
  6. Weave in ends. Block gently to form a 12″x12″ square.
Yours should look better than this. My test square was too small and I had to add a border.

Berries (make 50. Yes, I’m sorry, 50.)

  1. With F hook, chain 1. 3 sc in the back side of that stitch, and join with sl st to first sc.
  2. Ch 1, 2 sc in each st, join with sl st to 1st sc. At this point you should be able to fit the berry over your index finger to pop it into a curved shape.
  3. Ch 1, sc2tog 3x, join with sl st to first sc2tog and cut yarn with a tail long enough to sew up the opening. Before sewing shut, stuff with a yarn tail cut from a previous berry. Sew up the opening. Poke the yarn needle through to the other side of the berry and pull the tail through, pull tight and trim yarn close to the berry – as you release tension the yarn tail should pull back into the body of the berry. This tugging helps you shape the berry into a ball after you’ve beaten it out of shape trying to close 3 stitches into a ring.
A bowl of lingonberries

Plump Leaf sections (make 2):

  • Row 1: With F hook (3.75mm), ch 4. Join with sl st to 1st sc.
  • Rows 2-7: Ch 1, sc in the same st, 3 sc, then join to 1st sc with sl st. Make sure you’re sc’ing in both loops of the stitch, to keep the stem smooth. If you handle the cut end of the yarn right you should be able to construct your tube right around it, and not have to weave it in later.
  • Row 8: Ch 1, sc in the same stitch, work leaf: {ch 8, beginning in second ch from hook, sc, 2 tr, hdc, sc, 2 sl.} Skipping second st in the prior row, sc in the third st. Work a second leaf. Skipping fourth stitch in prior row, join with sl st to 1st sc.
  • Row 9: work same as row 2.
  • Row 10: Ch 1, sc in same stitch, sc, work leaf. Skipping the third stitch in the prior row, sc in next st. Join with sl st to first sc.
  • Repeat rows 7-10 3 more times, for a total of eight rows with leaves in them.
  • Ch 1 and sc in the stitch directly across the tube, to close it off.
  • Ch 7 and sl st back down them, to give you some structure to attach the berries to later on. Cut yarn and weave in ends.

Thin Leaf Sections (make 2):

  • Row 1: With F hook (3.75mm), ch 4. Join with sl st to 1st sc.
  • Rows 2-7: Ch 1, sc in the same st, 3 sc, then join to 1st sc with sl st. Make sure you’re sc’ing in both loops of the stitch, to keep the stem smooth. If you handle the cut end of the yarn right you should be able to construct your tube right around it, and not have to weave it in later.
  • Row 8: Ch 1, sc in the same stitch, work leaf: {ch 8, beginning in second ch from hook, sc, 2 tr, hdc, sc, 2 sl.} Skipping second st in the prior row, sc in the third st. Work a second leaf. Skipping fourth stitch in prior row, join with sl st to 1st sc.
  • Row 9 and 10: work same as row 2.
  • Row 11: Ch 1, sc in same stitch, sc, work leaf. Skipping the third stitch in the prior row, sc in next st. Join with sl st to first sc.
  • Repeat rows 7-11 2 more times, for a total of six rows with leaves in them.
  • Ch 1 and sc in the stitch directly across the tube, to close it off.
  • Ch 7 and sl st back down them, to give you some structure to attach the berries to later on. Cut yarn and weave in ends.
  • Short Leaf Section (make 1):

  • Row 1: With F hook (3.75mm), ch 4. Join with sl st to 1st sc.
  • Rows 2-6: Ch 1, sc in the same st, 3 sc, then join to 1st sc with sl st. Make sure you’re sc’ing in both loops of the stitch, to keep the stem smooth. If you handle the cut end of the yarn right you should be able to construct your tube right around it, and not have to weave it in later.
  • Row 7: Ch 1, sc in same stitch, sc, work leaf: {ch 8, beginning in second ch from hook, sc, 2 tr, hdc, sc, 2 sl.}. Skipping the third stitch in the prior row, sc in next st. Join with sl st to first sc. 
  • Row 8: work same as row 2.
  • Row 9: Ch 1, sc in the same stitch, work leaf.  Skipping second st in the prior row, sc in the third st. Work a second leaf. Skipping fourth stitch in prior row, join with sl st to 1st sc.
  • Repeat rows 6-9 one more time, then row 6 & 7 again, for a total of five rows with leaves in them.
  • Ch 1, sc,  and sc in the stitch directly across the tube, to close it off.
  • Ch 7 and sl st back down them, to give you some structure to attach the berries to later on. Cut yarn and weave in ends.
  • Assembly:

    Going by the picture at the top of the page, sew berries onto your stems in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Lingonberries tend to bear in bunches at the tip of each stem, with a few more berries tucked under the endmost leaves. I used 9 berries for the ends of the fat stems, 6-8 for the others. You may have a few extras.

    Lay out your stems on your background square, bases together. Spiral them or stretch them across the square into a pleasing shape. If you have any extra berries, you can attach them wherever you think would benefit. Using sewing thread or two plies of the green wool, sew the bases of the stems together. Baste the stems in place so they don’t shift around, then go back and attach them more securely – I found a curved handsewing needle very helpful to attach the stems without having to lift the square from my worksurface.

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