“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

A Very Brady Chair Cushion

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Dear Kay,
Yesterday a random boy came up to me and said, “Wanna see my bug?” He reached into a tiny paper bag and pulled out, by a lacy wing, the hugest dead cicada I’d ever seen. Big old meaty bug. Goodgriefboydontshowmestufflikethat is what I wanted to say, but instead I told him it was a fine bug and asked what he was going to do with it. “Keep it,” he said.
It’s buggy up here, I tell you.
Sister Buffy arrived on Saturday with her two children for a two-week deployment, so things have been kind of busy around here. I can’t really tell you what we’ve been doing exactly, but generally, it has to do with feeding, talking, sitting, keeping her scrapbooking on schedule, making sure there’s enough badminton happening, and trying to not be in my PJs after ten o’clock in the morning.
I paid Buffy fifty cents to get rid of a cricket in the kitchen. I used to pay her when we were growing up to kill crickets, because our house had a never-ending population of big brown gross ones that didn’t look like Jiminy Cricket; they looked like pirates of the Caribbean. I’d like to say she humanely ushered it outside, but we subscribe to the belief that a bug outside is a sacred beautiful cog in the wheel of nature’s elegant machine and proof that there’s order in the universe, while a bug inside is the ENEMY. She dropped the current issue of Real Simple magazine on it. “That was real simple,” she said.
Anyway, we went to Nashville last weekend, and I honestly can’t believe I did this, but I went directly to the yarn shop in search of yarn for making rocking chair cushions. It’s sick, I tell you. Just ill. I have all sorts of projects half baked this summer, but ever since I finished painting those chairs, I have been consumed with thoughts of chair cushions. I wanted them to be quick knits, which would require chunky yarn, which was absent from the porta-stash I brought up here to the Mountain. That’s how I ended up going to the yarn shop when I really had no business doing such a thing.
I had in mind a felted chair cushion, one that would have maybe some simple stitching on it that would felt into a blurry, pretty decorative element. All those beautiful Noni bags are so great–and that famous Nicky Epstein bag with all the trailing vegetation. Lurvly! I do not seem able to carry a felted bag as my purse, so at least I could enter the decorative felted world by adapting some of those ideas on a cushion. And the more you bottom-felted them, the blurrier and softer the decoration would be.
The more I pondered this, the more it was clear that a summertime screened porch rocking chair cushion would just be miserable if it were wool. Bleh! Hot! Itchy! Cotton or linen are the only real options. But chunky cotton? Hard to find. Chunky linen? Maybe. But the shop didn’t have the zippy shades I was seeking to make these cushions the cheerful mini-fiestas I was craving. After all, I have a world of cream-colored chairs to overcome. These cushions had to be a picante sauce.
I ended up standing, as you often do, in front of the Cotton Classic. The wall of cheer, really. If I doubled the Cotton Classic, I would have access to that wondrous rainbow of colors. I left with a bag of happy yarn, and commenced to swatching.
With felting out of the question, I immediately turned to the Big Dotty pattern that I used for the piano bench cushion that’s in the book. I’ve always wanted to try it larger, in bright colors. Here’s what came of that, with doubled Cotton Classic on a size 10 needle:
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Very Laugh-In. One of the things I’ve noticed in these cottages here in at the Monteagle Assembly is that you can instantly tell when a house had its last bit of decorating done. There’s a lot of sheet vinyl kitchen flooring in that avocado and gold Moorish tile pattern. You see chairs with 1960s florals, crewelwork pillows from Erica Wilson’s glory days in the ’70s, and plenty of giant armchairs from the ’80s now slipcovered to disguise their sins. I hope, 20 years from now, people will mistake this cushion for a project from 1968.
More on the construction of this cushion later. Here’s what I’ve got so far, a quick two nights’ worth of knitting, which included–o rare treat—an episode of the new season of Project Runway.
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I think I like it as much or more on the dark chairs, the ones that wisely evaded my paintbrush:
rockercushion1.jpg
One profound truth so far: these big needles make knitting a snipsnap piece of CAKE! Why didn’t you tell me about these before?
Love,
Ann

51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Oh, they’re beautiful. Now to try the big dottie pattern! See you later!

  2. I don’t think you should abandon wool so quickly. It could be a great experiment! Would it really be itchy? Would shorts help mitigate itchiness? Would wool absorb perspiration and wick it away from the sitter?

  3. Lookin’ good! I’m having all sorts of Kanuga flashbacks when I see your pix. I came downstairs last night to find the kitties peering intently at a cicada on the other side of the fireplace screen ~ I hope it found its way back up the chimney! XXO

  4. I’m with you about the darker chairs. If you don’t care about the cushions not matching, you could try different colors for the ‘painted’ chairs. It gives you a good excuse to go back the yarn store!

  5. Ann,
    Love the cushions! The colors are lovely. I just got back from standing in front of the wall of cotton at my LYS it is my favorite place in the store LOL! My youngest son loves to wind the yarn so he is always happy when I buy cotton :)

  6. I LOVE THEM! Honestly didn’t quite get Big Dotty in your book but on those chairs with that yarn, it is smashing.

  7. Yay for Noni bags! My husband used to work with Nora Bellows, who designs all of the Noni bags. What a talent!

  8. Yay for cushions! I love the color choices (green is my favorite in the whole world) and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  9. I think if you want them to be a throw back to the 60s you will need to throw in some orange….
    (I don’t say it will look good, just more authentic.)
    Wish my LYS had a wall of Cotton Classic.

  10. Not Brady related, but thought you might like to know (if you don’t already) that the post office is going to issue special quilt stamps starting in August. Though not knit, still seems perfect for MD snail mail. Scroll down to “Gee’s Bend Quilts” to see images:
    http://www.usps.com/communications/news/stamps/2005/sr05_054.htm?from=bannercommunications&page=comstamps

  11. Ahhhhhhh…me likey…great job!

  12. The colors on that are far too decent to be 60s era. More avocado, some mustard yellow, some orange, maybe even some hot pink and you’re there (well, if you want to be there!)

  13. SUPER chair cushions! Love the colors, and those creamy vanilla chairs are so cool and Southern looking out on the porch.

  14. the green is nice on both chairs but it really pops against the dark chair background. can’t wait to see the finished object! and can you believe the results of the latest project runway? what did you think of it?

  15. Ann I love those colors – your chunky linen link has me thinking!

  16. Fabulous! No cricket brown accents to compliment the wildlife?

  17. Um, sorry that WOULD be an insect compliment. I meant complement.

  18. psssst.
    log cabin.
    i do love those, but now i have log cabin stuck in my head. or one giant mitre square.
    don’t mind me.

  19. “Bottom Felted!” Snort!

  20. I love those, love those, love those! I want rocking chairs and a porch, but I think I could do with out those bugs! EW!

  21. So maybe you’ll miss out on the bottom-felting, but those big dotties are going to make for some very interesting thigh-fossils.

  22. Your cushions look great. I love the colours.
    Good choice on the cotton. You want to be able to wash the things that people sit on when they are up at a cabin.
    Moths aren’t going to go after those when you are gone either.

  23. You cannot go wrong with cotton classic. It isn’t possible. Enjoy – we’ll be waiting for the next installment.

  24. Love the green cushion experiment…but in the interest of thorough research I should mention that there is a bulky linen-cotton blend you may want to check out: Reynold’s Morocco. My own experiment with it was mixed (it was a shock to see how closely I resembled the Michelin Man when wearing anything made of bulky yarn). But a cushion is another story…

  25. Mmmm… Cotton Classic… That stuff is hard to resist!

  26. Wow, I love that!

  27. Would Peaches and Cream work? We don’t have much in the way of LYS’s here and I want to make a cushion for my computer chair.
    It’s too hot to sit out in a rocking chair in Florida.
    tp

  28. Wow, that is beautiful.

  29. Oh, I love the pattern! And the colors are perfectly front-porch-y!

  30. Oh, I LOVE the large motif on those cushions! I admired the Euroflax version in the book, but look what you can do simply by changing gauge and colorscheme~ thanks for the inspiration!

  31. Love the greens in the yarn on the dark chairs. Maybe for the cream chairs you could use warm colors. The cushions would still coordinate if the same pattern was used to knit them.

  32. you girls are just so wonderful. those greens lift my spirits.

  33. You say 1968 but I say ‘very now’! I love the pattern and the colours. Can’t wait to see a pic when they’re all done.

  34. I’m a lurker, not a poster but I have to tell you how much I LOVE the cushions you’re making. Beautiful!

  35. Bugs rock. Well, some of them do. Cicadas are fun because they’re a devil to catch and very neat looking critters. It’s even gotten hot enough here in Maine for them to start singing, though nothing like the massive choirs of ‘em in the South.

  36. That is GORGEOUS. I, too, am considering Sugar ‘n Cream…. Hmmmmmmm.

  37. Cotton Classic was my favourite…until I found Classic Elite Provence. 100% Mercerized Egyptian Cotton. Mmmmmmm…..
    Great colours and who can complain about all of that yardage?

  38. Geez Louise NOW I have to make the chair cushions – LOL! Ok this knitting is an illness I say. They look very nice – will commence soon.

  39. I agree with the organge comment. It’s exactly what I was thinking. No way to confuse them with the 60′s with out that stinking burnt orange color or possibly some ‘gag me gold’. My mom decorated the whole house in Spanish red and black distressed wood. Then she switched over to the gag me gold. These greens (especially the bluish one) don’t have that same LSD flashback effect. They look very inviting. In other words, I think you have good taste. My mom? God rest her soul, never did.

  40. oohhhhh ann…. please tell me that the knitted chair covers will follow you home. wouldn’t want any “creatures” nibbling, off-season!

  41. I love the cushions. The colors really go with the chairs. The give it the country cottage look. Living in NC near the beach my house is done in a country cottage type with a little victorian thown in and I have alot of country green and looking at them gave me a wonderful idea for some chairs around a table in my house that I have been dying to do something with and you have inspired a new knitter to think outside the box and try something very new. Thanks again and I love this website and the input of everyone on it. And I especially love the book. Thanks again everyone. Look for me again because I will be back often.

  42. love the colours, love the pattern, and you’ve inspired me out of my ‘what shall I knit next, that isn’t too wintery already and won’t take too long?’ hump… thank you! :)

  43. Love the greens!

  44. Ann – The chair cover looks so pretty! I think that will be very nice for a summer sit. . .
    Props to you for the nod to Project Runway! I just love that show! Aren’t you so tired of Vincent & Angela? Who’s going to get the boot early this week? Suspense! Drama! Fashion! Oh my!

  45. Sha-ZAHM!
    Love it.
    Agree with others that as long as you maintain one hue-family per cushion (I’m looking forward to something orange/magenta/red, right?), they’ll look suspiciously more like “vintage sensibility” than “For real, these cushions are so old that they’re probably unusable”
    Excited by the idea of Reynolds Morocco (chunky linen/cotton? Could things get better?) but it’s been discontinued.
    Please continue to keep us informed on cushion growth and possible heavy weight cellose yarns (cotton, linen, etc.).
    Thank you, over and out.
    -Amber

  46. Those are wonderful! I’m SO making a dishcloth out of Big Dotty…

  47. I have an old chest that I want to use the dottie pattern for, to turn it into a bench… hmmm. LOVE the greens you’re using!!

  48. looks like bargello work.
    i heart bargello work.
    do you suppose that raised texture will leave a pattern on your ass or on the collective ass of guests?
    that would be cool…..

  49. That cushion is awesome. Perhaps I’m showing my age but the Brady-factor seems to enhance the beauty.

  50. Velcro. It will hold tight against all of the wiggling behinds that plant themselves on your beautiful cushion. Love the button idea (in match-y buttons, though) but I think the buttonhole yarnovers would stretch out over time and they’d be forever coming undone. So how many cushions x 14 skeins will you be making? :-)

  51. Your cushions are fabulous – unique, colorful… a breath of fresh air!!!