This is a post in which I am going to talk about some of my favourite things.
Lets start with the garden! I could write a whole blog about my garden and it’s predecessors but I won’t because I need to get to the knitting. There are lots of things I like about gardening but it all comes down to colour in the end and lots of it. Many years ago I bought a copy of this Geoff Hamilton book Paradise Gardens. Ever since then I have been striving to achieve a garden which looks a little bit like this front cover and, since we’ve moved house twice in that time, each time to a house without what could be described as an actual garden, this is still a distant aim which I refuse to give up.
A few years ago our current garden had a big overhaul and we decided that we needed a bench for it. We wanted to put the bench in the last bit of the garden to get the sun in the evening in the summer but we just couldn’t find something we liked at a price we wanted to pay.
This is where another one of my favourite things comes in. My family has one thing that we love to do altogether and that is to ski. What has that got to do with garden benches you may ask? The answer to that involves me remembering 2 things. Firstly this bench we’d seen in Switzerland made from snowboards and probably part of a ski-lift.
The second thing I remembered was that we had a stack of old skis which we didn’t know what to do with. Add these 2 things together and a bit of creativeness from my husband et voila…
one ski bench.
I can’t resist just showing this one from springtime where you can see how it works in the corner of our little garden.
So now I get to talk about my knitting!! Whilst the bench looks fantastic, it’s not exactly comfortable to sit on and I’ve often said it would be good if I made a cushion to go on it. A few months ago I needed to make a decision in relation to a City and Guilds course I am doing in Knitted Textiles. I needed to make an ‘item for interior use’ which would be accessed and I thought it would be fun to make a cushion for our bench. I asked if it would be ok to make something which was going to be used outdoors and the tutor said that would be fine.
I chose to look at images of old fashioned ski resort posters as my inspiration. This kind of thing…
and I came up with a few ideas for designs.
Once I’d chosen the design I liked, and after consulting my tutor, I got on with knitting some samples in different yarns and trying out various needle sizes. I wanted the cushion to be practical and hard wearing so yarn selection and stitch tension were crucial.
Whilst I was going through the design process, I decided to try to make the cushion pad myself. I found 2 old duvets and used them to make a pad in the correct size and then I used an old sheet to make a cover for it in the correct size. I was very pleased with the results and proud of my up-cycling efforts.
I also took the precaution of painting the design full size onto the back of some spare wallpaper just to check how it looked on the bench before I went any further.
Finally I was ready to knit my cushion. I had chosen Sirdar Country Style DK because I liked the way the design worked in my samples. It is a good quality yarn with some wool content, but will also be hard wearing and easy to care for as I can wash it in the washing machine. I also chose one shade of Click DK as we had the right colour in the shop and it is a very similar yarn.
The cushion is enormous. I had to knit a piece 36cm wide and 140cm long on dk yarn using 3mm needles, so it did take quite a long time in those dark winter evenings. I knitted the sun motif onto a blue background in 3 different colours (red, orange and yellow) using a mixture of intarsia technique and stranding as in fair isle knitting. I chose the colours to match the colours in the skis on the bench as I wanted it to be a really fun item.
The cushion is 10cm deep so I knitted a 10cm wide strip, inspired by the mountains of Switzerland, using a combination of garter stitch, moss stitch and reverse stocking stitch to give it variety of texture. The underneath of the cushion is knitted completely in garter stitch in blocks of colour designed to match up with the side of the cushion.
Having sewn the top, bottom and sides together, I knitted a narrow strip along on long edge of the underneath of the cushion and attached small plastic press studs to fasten it up and make it easy to remove and wash when needed.
The pattern has been written up for the City and Guilds course but I am doubtful that anyone else will want to knit one. I am intending to do a smaller version and make the pattern available before the summer.
It was a very exciting moment when I was able to try out my cushion on my bench, and although it was a cold and windy day I managed to get a photo of myself trying it out.
I can tell you this is the most comfortable cushion I have ever sat on and I am very pleased with the finished results.
We have even managed to get it out again and sit on it with a cuppa.
Now I just can’t wait until the summer when I will be knitting in the garden (sitting) on skis!!!