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

Git ‘Er Done

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Dear Kay,
I’m in a total flow state with the rocking chair cushions, wallowing in some dorked-out cushion-coverin’, fambly-neglectin’, upholsterizin’ good times. Before I started this little project, I stewed about how to make a cushion without having to get into the hardcore mechanics of cushion making. I didn’t want to be RESPONSIBLE for the structural INTEGRITY of my CUSHION–I just wanted it to look purty, OK y’all?
So I cast about for a likely base cushion. I went through every single home furnishings catalog that I had in the house. I studied the pillow department at Target. At the end of the day (literally–it was late and I was despairing), I discovered a stack of patio cushions SITTING ON THE DECK, just sitting there being annoying because they were all the time getting rained on and every time, I’m sitting down and GYAH YICK DAMMIT again with the WET CUSHIONS.
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I drafted them immediately for screened porch rocking chair cushion duty, ending the tyranny of the damp khaki shorts. They looked promising as a core for my knitting project. Not too thick. Knife edge rather than the box edge that so often collapses when a girl sits on it. Sunbrella so they won’t mildew for at least two days. Sturdy ties. And, most important, they were THERE. I didn’t have to go FIND THEM or BUY THEM.
For the technically curious, the cushion is 18″ x 16″. I swatched to figger out the gauge. This is Tahki Cotton Classic, doubled, on a size 10 needle. It took an insane amount of yarn to make this: fourteen skeins. I don’t want to talk about what this cushion costs. Did Vermeer worry about paint costs? OK so maybe he did.
I cast on 77 stitches for the front edge of the top, knitted like a fiend for a couple of days, beginning decreases once I got halfway down the top (a decrease near each edge every inch or so), then cast off once the piece seemed slightly smaller than the cushion. I figured it would stretch once khaki shorts started sitting on it.
I wanted the back to be in one color so that the ends (a gruesome sight down one edge of the front) would be minimal. I picked up stitches along the front edge of the piece using the back color yarn, then knitted a boxy little texture pattern.
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The plan is to thread some yarn through the purl bumps to see if it looks kind of decorative. But I reserve the right to take it out if it’s too dumb-looking.
Well, I finished the cushion panel and COULD NOT WAIT to sew it together. One edge made nice late-night mattress stitching. The edge with all the ends?
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Kind of like that scene in The African Queen where Humphrey Bogart is dragging the boat through the Amazonian swamp. But if you pay attention to what the stitches are supposed to be doing–if you watch the V shapes and try to keep them aligned, the Big Dotty pattern shapes up passably.
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This yucky corner, however, is not what I would call my finest hour. Ah, who cares?
Moving on . . .
As I knitted the top, and the bottom, I kept worrying about the ties. How do you make ties that are not the ooky Sunbrella fabric, but also not an inadequate crummy I-cord deal that will fail after you tie them three times?
Aw, you got it: a tie cozy.
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This is six-stitch I-cord threaded over the ties. Weirdly stimulating. Just saying.
I Need Some Advice
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Here’s where I really need some help. The opening at the back edge. It’s not really clear to me how best to seal up this little envelope. I’d like to be able to take the cover off every once in a while to clean it, but it doesn’t need to open very often. I put a row of yarnovers along the bottom side, figuring that they would be useful for some kind of fastening deal.
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A long tie, whipstitched through the holes sort of like the repair a person makes on a dishcloth? The stitches in the Big Dotty part are loose enough that I could thread a cord through them with a big needle.
A bunch of ties, which would be fiddly to tie but kind of fringily decorative?
Buttons? Incredibly enough, last summer a little girl was selling bracelets she made, and I bought one: Eight buttons which completely do not match the cushion.
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But they do have sentimental value at this point. And they have the virtue of BEING HERE. I didn’t have to go BUY them.
So close! Yet so far! The right solution to the back edge will make all the difference. Help meeeee!
Love,
Ann

72 Comments

72 Comments

  1. I like a shoelace style closing- closes tight, easily done and undone without sewing and the ends tuck in pretty neat. But I am a simple girl.

  2. I like the buttons and while they don’t match I still think they’d look nice. There’s something comforting and summer-camp-like about using what you’ve got.

  3. I would go for the buttons–they are very “summery”! i think the buttons will be neater, allow you to remove the cover to wash very easily, and i think the ties/ribbons will look too fussy. that is not what this summery cushion is about. Summery cushion needs summery buttons. go buttons! go buttons! :o)

  4. All hail the mighty velcro. But that makes your yarnovers pointless…

  5. I have nothing helpful to add to this discussion but I do want to say that the cushion is fab.u.lous.

  6. Ditto about nothing helpful to add. However, the colors and textures are great.
    PS Although the buttons are CUTE, I wonder whether they’d distort the cotton after a number of khaki enrobed bottoms sat on the cushion.

  7. please no yarn or ribbon through the purl bumps on the grey cushion! looks very vintage / antique / art deco as it is!

  8. If ya don’t want to use the buttons you’re “attached” to, how about those 1″ plastic rings? Use a hook & your green yarn to cover the rings (like casting on to a circle), sew em on one side, & pull through the eyelets…
    Love the pillow cover!

  9. The buttons. You have them, and they belong with the house (ergo, with the cushion).

  10. Wow … it looks fantastic. :)

  11. Oh, the buttons. They’re very sweet and add another layer of Monteagle-y goodness to the whole project.
    Your cushion is faboo!

  12. I’ve got to say I’m loving the button idea. Great cushion!

  13. Love the buttons. If the non-matchiness really bothers you, you could save them for the next chair cushion and make that one in the buttons’ colors.
    Meanwhile, you could go through your jar of saved buttons (you have one, right? everyone has a jar of buttons, right? I got mine at the Salvation Army store) to find suitably colored vintage buttons for this cushion.

  14. Definitely, ues the buttons! They’ll look cool!

  15. How about using old mix matched Buttons and cover them with the matching yarn? Or use wooden Beads in the color of the chair?
    love the Pillow,makes me want to start on mine (like I need another project),but it just looks to pretty to pass up.

  16. Good job! I have no idea how to close up the back. I was thinking of covering my old vinyl kitchen chairs with one of these cushions. I’m not sure it would work as upholstery though.

  17. I’m in favor of the buttons.

  18. whatever. You will close it up. But FOURTEEN skeins? Yowza. Not that I don’t have, like, a giant stash o’yarn and didn’t use something like that amount for a Baby Moderne. No judgement here. But thanks for fessing up before I started copycatting and lost my life savings (as counted in yarn credit at the shop where I “work” p/t) in Cotton Classic.

  19. Don’t abandon the tie idea. If you do them, you can tie them to the back’s rungs which will make the cushion more secure and less slidey. Maybe a nice antiquey ribbon??
    Lovely cushion!!

  20. Another vote for the buttons :-) Cushion looks awesome!!!

  21. I think the buttons would be absolutely fantastic. If you think about it, red goes with green, pink goes with green, purple goes with green, and even orange goes with green (think flowers)! Why not throw them all together?

  22. Buttons, for sure. Ties would be too fiddly and fringy and decorative. The mismatched buttons won’t be too noticeable there on the back edge, but when you DO see them, they’ll remind you of the crafty little girl. (Wonder what she’ll be selling next year…) Plus, the thrift of using on-hand buttons helps to balance out the mountain of new yarn.

  23. Definitely buttons. But I’d go buy some wooden ones. Buttons will be the quickest way to slip off the cover for washing. A zipper could work, but what a pain to install when you already have button holes. This could be a dirty word for handknitters, but what about velcro? Okay, maybe not.

  24. Definitely tie it. I sorta like the idea of a bunch of bows, but shoestring like would look good too. Good god that’s a lot of yarn for a cushion!

  25. LOVE the cushion! And maybe you should disregard the yarnover holes completely and just go with an inside velcro strip. It would be hidden on the inside of the pillow so you won’t see it, but it will close up the pillow nicely and be easy to open when you want to take the pillow off. Then you could do something decorative (like buttons or ties) through the yarnover holes without having to worry about “structural integrity” issues.

  26. I’ll throw in my vote for buttons. They will be the easiest to open and close. I don’t think it matters what kind of buttons you use – they will be hidden under your khaki shorts anyway :)

  27. I’m in the minority. I vote for velcro. Or large snaps.

  28. Is it a bad thing that I immediately thought of my stapler?

  29. I’m a heretic. I say go for the velcro too. And since you won’t need the eyelets, just sew the darling buttons over the holes for sentimental reasons.

  30. Hey Ann-
    It is a beauty – wish I could come sit on it and knit into the evening with you . . .
    If you’re not of Amish persuasion you could consider a zipper . . . a zipper is one of those marvelous inventions that the uninitated are afraid to try installing, kind of like homemade pie crust which people are also scared to make. But putting in a zipper is easy enough. Just put it where it belongs, sew it down, and voila! A closed cushion, easy on and off for laundering or for hiding love letters.
    So glad you are having a true summer with your family – and how are those birdies doing?
    With a hug,
    Cat

  31. What about braiding a ribbon through the YOs?

  32. Beautiful chair cover – love the back just as it is! My first thought for closing it was “zipper” (but I sew so zippers don’t scare me). Seems like buttons might get snagged on the chair. So, if not zipper, then my vote is for shoe-lacing – perhaps with an I cord…

  33. I sense a ‘what i have on hand” esthetic here.
    make toggle-type buttons out of twigs (smooth-ish, bark on or off) that are lying around the yard!
    been lurking for years, love your blog/format/style/friendship
    cheers

  34. I vote for the buttons! I actually like how much they don’t match – you could tell it is NOT an accident.

  35. I vote for the buttons! I actually like how much they don’t match – you could tell it is NOT an accident.

  36. Do any Monteagle kids have some Fimo/Sculpey you can snitch and bake in your toaster oven for custom made button/toggles/thingies? If not, I kind of like the bright buttons. You can always change them next year if you return and wonder what you were thinking.

  37. some sort of tie…

  38. You’ve taken dorked-out to a whole new level here. I am in awe.

  39. Beautiful cushion cover. I’m also with the minority who would prefer a (hidden) velcro closure. The buttons are cute, but would likely distort the cushion and the buttonholes would get all stretched out when people sit on it.
    Did I read right? 14 skeins of Cotton Classic per cushion? That’s a tad rich for my blood but, as long as you’re having a good time and can afford it, keep up the great work!

  40. I like the idea of ties or laces. Nice sturdy green cotton ties in cute little bows all the way across. The zipper idea is good too, although it again makes the yarn overs pointless unless you ran some decorative ribbon thought them or something.

  41. I’m for tying that sucker shut. The velcro could do wicked things to the knits, and I’m loving the buttons where they remain, on the bracelet.
    In other news, have you seen the new stamps courtesy of the USPS?
    https://shop.usps.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10152&storeId=10001&categoryId=11830&productId=26203&langId=-1
    LOVE the GEES BEND angle on the front of my letters. Get ‘em now! They ship Aug. 24.

  42. Why not cover the buttons in crochet using one strand of the cotton?

  43. Hmmm. I’m with Zazzu, the buttons might pull. I love them in their non-matched-ness, but not on a cushion. If they’re not going to spend the rest of their useful lives as a bracelet, use them on the (ahem, where is it?) Perfect Cardi pattern – mismatched / ‘vintage’ / odd buttons are all the rage here, and you could really, rilly, make that look work on a tweedy number, you know? Meanwhile, I would do a secure but unobtrusive running stitch to close the cushion, easy to undo when you want to throw it in the washer, easy to re-do when all’s clean and dry again.
    Meanwhile, snorting with laughter here at the ‘Weirdly stimulating’ six-stitch i-cord….

  44. My first thought was buttons for the closure and then I kept reading and you mentioned you have buttons so I think it’s fate!

  45. My vote is for snap tape or a zipper. Velcro would do a nasty number on the knit fabric.
    You know, I have a cushion cover with one end open precisely because of the same problem, trying to think of a good way to close that end that also allows me to occasionally take the cover off. I stil haven’t decided between zipper or snap tape. Oh, I crocheted the pieces together to create decorative seams. This might be something to try for your next cushion cover.

  46. Another vote for the bracelet buttons — unless you could whip up some matching knotted fabric ones from the craft cabin potholder loops. And can you share the details for the boxy little texture pattern on the back?

  47. Oh Ann! I love the cushion. I have been searching and debating trying to find a cushion for my grandparents’ rocking chair that I inherited when my grandfather passed away several years ago. This looks like a brilliant idea!

  48. P.S. I like the idea of buttons. Or you could use a ribbon (like grosgrain, maybe) for the whipstitch through those loops.

  49. Aw, heck, I’ll throw in my 1-cent here too–I say tie closures. I think the buttons will eventually pull out the eyelets and also come undone a lot (lord knows the buttons on my duvet come undone all the time–uber annoying). Plus, I like the idea of using the ties to affix the cushion to the chair back. Picture this: loverly evening, book in right hand, mojito in left hand. You lean back. Wiggle wiggle. Squirm squirm. Ahhh… And then SWOOSH! Suddenly the cushion has shot out from under you, coasting on freshly painted rocking chair and Jill came tumbling after. Can’t have that, now can we? Ties or some sort of chair/cushion affixing are definitely needed!

  50. girl – you have buttons and you have paint. ‘nuf said. Dip them in the chair paint if you have any left over!!

  51. Strangely, I was thinking of cotton potholder loops also, can tie up with them and replace them if they get too hard to use. I never like buttons on my seat cushions for some reason.

  52. “GYAH YICK DAMMIT” — that’s exactly what I yell, too!
    This blog makes me laugh out loud!!!

  53. I think the cushion looks great! Love the texture.
    I vote for buttons as the method of closure since you’ve got the buttonholes already made. Those nice flat buttons won’t be hard on one’s backside, either.

  54. I’d vote for buttons all the way. I think they go with the feel better, well not those colors exactly but buttons themselves.

  55. If you keep those ties, you will attract every kitty in town. I also know a few mini schnauzers that might come your way. I’ve used that non slip pad stuff but it doesn’t work as well as it should. I usually end up needing both the ties and the non slip pad. I think a rustic type rope would look nice for ties. Keep in mind I have no sense of taste. :)

  56. I love the idea of buttons, but I too think they might pull. A zipper is probably the most sensible idea. They frighten me, but I make one heck of a pie crust, and Cat Bordhi says if you can make pie crust you can install a zipper (that *is* what she said, right?).

  57. fyi..Vermeer DID worry about paint (actually, pigment) costs. Even though his wife’s family had money, he pretty much lived hand to mouth. Even so, he still used the expensive lapis lazuli to make paint for that beautiful blue in his paintings, not the cheaper stuff.
    hey, you asked…sort of…

  58. I can’t BELIEVE only 1 person went with twig toggles! Start toggling!!!

  59. I like the idea of a ‘bunch of ties, fringily decorative’. Cats and rockers go together and you’ll most likely entertain the cat rather than rock on his tail. Just pull the ties thru like a slip knot fringe (with ends unevenly hanging across the back) and make big bobbles at the end (or attach buttons for cuteness factor) so that when the chair rocks, you get a satisfying “click” noise (this is especially good if the chair doesn’t creak already). GREAT cushion by the way.

  60. The buttons are so cute, but wouldn’t they scratch the chair when you (or, your kids) sit on it and make the paint peel off?

  61. OMG! Surely to goodness 14 skeins are anough for more than one cushion $$$!!!!!

  62. Love your new cushion! If, by chance, 14 hanks of Cotton Classic fall from the sky today, it will be my next project! I have little use for a cushion, though, so I’m working out a Big Dotty Pillow pattern in my head.

  63. the buttons. ya gotta length of grosgrain about the place? if not, you just cut a bias strip from a pice of something you do have and back those butonholes so they won’t stretch out, is all. about 1″ wide or maybe however wide one honeycomb motif is?

  64. Whoa, 14 skeins!!!!! If there was ever a reason for Cotton Classic Chunky, this is it !
    Well another minority heard from…
    “No” to Buttons. (They scratch, break, fall off and have to be sewn back on. Just not a whole lot of fun.)
    Tie ‘em, Velcro ‘em, zip ‘em, because just think about what you’d have to tell that dear child.
    “Well, gee hunny, I tore your beautiful bracelet apart to hold together a porch cushion.” I do understand the not having to BUY anything, though. (It is a kick isn’t it? I think that’s why we love our stashes so much.)
    Now I have this corner chair, how can I do Big D in a diamond shape?
    Janet

  65. Even on the screened porch, plastic buttons are likely to suffer UV damage and deteriorate. I vote for snap tape (with rust-proof metal snaps), which has the advantage of the tape to keep the cushion from stretching out of shape.
    Hey, there’s already 14 skeins of yarn in the project, what’s a couple more bucks?

  66. Shoelace, definately shoelace. You won’t have to hunt for a needle to rethread it when you remove it for wash, you can always change your mind later with no real effort (except mental) or expense. The velcro snagging & gapping? Good for space suits but too high tech. The zipper? The best solution for “grown-ups” but probably requires shopping. The twig toggles? Cutest idea but that’s the kind of thing I’d dream up then never quite get around to finishing. The shoelace? It’s here, now, & gets the job done with no real commitment. Kind of like me.

  67. how about adding grommets ( i think thats what they are called) to the YO and then use them with buttons, sticks, beads, whatever as a toggle closure. i’m sure ribbons would also work well/

  68. Love the cushion. So pretty.
    I vote for velcro or ties. Buttons are cute, but the fabric would get distorted after a while.

  69. Try the kooky buttons! I think the fact that they don’t match at all throws a little something… unexpected into the mix. You can always change them later if you decide you don’t like them!
    The cushion is GORGEOUS!

  70. How about this: pick up the stitches on the bottom piece and knit a few inches of a flap to tuck under the top piece. It’s like knitting an afterthought hem onto a finished sweater (see Knitting Without Tears – EZ says to do a purl ridge first to create a crease). The pillowcases on my bed work according to this principle. You might need to add the buttons anyway, but then if they gape it won’t look bad. Or you can go with my other idea: staples.

  71. I saw this in the Rowan preview and immediately thought of you: http://knitrowan.com/html/magazines_slide_show.asp?productCode=ZM40&serial=68&slideSerial=595
    I’m sure someone has already alerted you to it’s existance, but through I’d let you know, just in case. Great designers things alike, you know.

  72. Nerd technicality …. the Amazon is not in Africa. It’s in South America. But I’m very pleased somebody else has seen African Queen.
    I say use buttons. They will add even more character. If guilt overcomes you, you can always try to track down the kid and buy a couple more.