Thursday, December 31, 2015
The Never Break the Chain Cushion.
This knitting project plan had its origins in a reupholstering project. I was reupholstering the rocking chair you see pictured above for one of the bedrooms in my house. The chair had an accompanying cushion that was upholstered in the "wrong side" of the old upholstery fabric, which had made for a nice contrasting look with the "right side" upholstery that covered the chair. However, the new upholstery fabric did not have an attractive "wrong side", and I thought reupholstering the cushion in the same fabric as the chair wouldn't look right. After some time spent trying to figure out if I could use the cushion as it was elsewhere in my house (and concluding I couldn't), the obvious solution hit me: I should leave the cushion as it was and simply knit it a new cushion cover.
I immediately realized I had a suitable lot of yarn on hand for the project. Several years ago my mother had given me 300 grams of a cream-coloured acrylic DK that someone else had given her. The origins of this yarn are hazy in every sense. An anonymous someone found it when cleaning out the house of an equally unknown elderly woman who had died, and gave it to someone else (my mother has forgotten who), who had in her turn passed it along to my mother, who then offered it to me. I don't know what brand or fibre content this yarn was as it had only unmarked yellow paper bands on it. My best guess is that the yarn is an acrylic produced in the 1980s, as it has a rather coarse texture that today's much improved acrylics don't usually have. The yarn then sat in my box of DK yarn for several years as I tried to figure out what to do with it. The rough texture made it unsuitable for clothing, which meant it should be used for a decorating project, but I never seemed to have a need for it. That yarn's time had finally arrived, as it was perfect for making this cushion cover. I wasn't quite sure I'd have enough yarn to cover what was a fairly large cushion, but decided that 300 grams would surely make at least one side of the cushion cover, and the cushion could be made with a coordinating fabric backing if need be.
The next step in the process was to find a suitable cushion cover pattern. After a Ravelry search for a cabled pattern, I decided I liked the idea of a strip of Celtic knot cable running across an otherwise plain stockinette cushion, as shown above in the Celtic Knot Pillow cover, designed by Jennifer Wilby. After all, isn't a yarn that was passed along a chain of knitters before it reached the one who would eventually use it the perfect yarn to be used for a Celtic chain effect? The Celtic knot technique is a traditional knitting pattern of such long-standing that it's in the public domain, so I used the Celtic cable pattern from the Celtic Cable Scarf pattern, written by Vanessa Lewis, to get the look, and did the math to write my own pattern to fit my specific cushion.
Here's the completed cushion cover, sitting on the chenille-covered rocking chair I upholstered, and against the backdrop of the wall I painted and the chintz curtains I've made. It turned out that I did have just enough yarn to make an entire cushion cover -- I finished this project with less than 40 inches of yarn to spare. I knitted the cover in one long piece, then seamed it on two sides, and inserted an 18" ivory zipper into one long side using the method described in this Frog Knitting tutorial. It's worth going the extra mile to put a zipper in a cushion cover as it means the cover can easily be taken off the cushion and washed.
To recap, I had the cushion and the yarn and even the zipper on hand, and the pattern was free. I did have to buy a crochet hook for the zipper insertion as I had none of a size big enough to grip the yarn but small enough to pierce the zipper, but the crochet hook was only $2.15, so this was still quite a frugal exercise. And the chain of custody for this yarn is finally at an end.... though who knows? The cushion might have a checkered life as well. We never know where our stuff will wind up.