Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to crochet RNA secondary structure (with tRNA pattern)

Almost two years ago (...) I wrote a post describing how to make fern-like fronds out of chain and slip stitches. Someone named Johnny Swatts astutely commented:
"This scheme for crocheting fronds, etc, puts me in mind of DNA hairpinning and other self-hybridized structures."
I thought this was a fantastic idea.

You can make all kinds of structures pretty easily, generating your own patterns from looking at an RNA structure predictions like the tRNA at left (source:


This pattern begins at the 3' end. It's best to use a yarn that's not too fuzzy (so you can make out the individual stitches). Try to work tight to maintain structural integrity. I worked this pattern in the back loops only, which helps it to lay flat.
  1. Chain 23 stitches.
  2. Beginning with 8th chain stitch from hook (that is, skip 7) single crochet 5 stitches.
  3. Chain 5 stitches.
  4. SLIP into the 4rd from your  hook (that is, skip 3). Note, this is not real base pairing, but will help the structure maintain its shape when you're finished.
  5. Chain 12 stitches. Congratulations, you just made an anticodon arm.
  6. Beginning with 8th chain stitch from hook (that is, skip 7) single crochet 5 stitches.
  7. Chain 15 stitches.
  8. Beginning with 11th chain stitch from hook (that is, skip 10) single crochet 4 stitches.
  9. Chain 2 stitches.
  10. Beginning with the 11th chain stitch you made in step 1 (it's right next to where you started single crocheting in step 2), single crochet 7. 
  11. Finish off!
To help the RNA maintain its shape, you can stiffen with a little glue, or applique it onto something you feel is not dorky enough yet.


Seamstress Erin said...

Have I mentioned yet today that you're amazing?

Anonymous said...

Nerdvana. A lovely distraction just before my test on this very subject. Now I can tell my husband, I'm not playing honey, I'm studying!