Google Images boggles my mind! Every time I do a search for coral to inspire a new piece for the Maine Reef Project something amazing catches my attention.
This time, Australian War Coral met my needs for both visual appeal and yarn in my stash and so here it is...... Similar to the Zoanthids with the center circle of color but without the tentacles.
This photo is from Aquatic Connection, a company that grows and sells coral on line for aquariums.
And here is my rendition.....
This is a free form piece but the general pattern is as follows:
Create a center one of two ways; use a circle of chains and either SC or DC around. OR, chain 3-5 st and crochet 3-4 st (either sc or dc) in the 2nd ch from the hook and then one st in the back loop of ea st, when you reach the last ch, sc or dc 3-4 sts in the same ch to round the end and continue to crochet in the round on the loop on the opposite side of the st and crochet until you reach the end and tie off. This is how you also would begin a double hyperbolic plane. If you need help with that, go to the patterns page to find directions for that. I also mixed up the stitches sometimes using SC and DC near one another to make an irregular center.
Now attach a different color yarn to your center piece and chain 6-8 sts. This creates the first bullion st. Then wrap your yarn around the hook 8 times, Sl St in the next space on the circle and draw the yarn through each wrap on the hook and CH 1. Be sure that you have enough slack in the yarn once you have made that chain st so that the bullion you have made is not scrunched up. I did 2-3 bullion sts in each st around. The more irregular your center and the more bullions you do in each st will give the individual elements a more organic ruffled look. Once you have gone all around, tie off.
Make as many pieces as you want to end up with whatever sized finished piece that you want, and using the same yarn stitch them together so that they overlap in an irregular fashion. I ran the yarn through some edges and pulled taught a bit to gather the edge so that the individual pieces curved under and gave it more dimension.
Finally, I did a row of SC along the outer edge of the entire piece. It's not important to go into every stitch. I used my own judgement as to how much smaller I wanted the edge to be so that it allowed the piece to mound up once stuffed.
Once you have gone around the entire piece with the SC, CH 4, skip 2, DC , ch 2, skip 2, DC in nxt st, all around. When you get to the end of the round attach to the ch 4 space and begin the next round again with ch 4. Note that you need to use your judgement as to when you need to decrease. Your ultimate goal is to have a flat bottom so that the piece rests flat once stuffed. I did this totally free form adjusting by either reducing from 2 ch, to 1ch or none between DC. I also skipped where I felt I needed to to reduce the size to maintain a flat bottom. There are no real mistakes here. It doesn't really matter what it looks like. As long as the holes are not so large that you lose your stuffing and it sits as flat as you want it to, you will be successful. I left a large center hole so I could stuff it for the photo but had to be able to un- stuff it to pack it for Maine. You can stuff yours and continue to close it up if you prefer.
My directions may be hard to understand but the idea is to create a mesh bottom that looks like this....
You can see that it is irregular but fills the need of rounding the edge of the piece to give it depth, as well as creating a pocket for filling and lets it sit flat.