Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Shape Shifter Cushion

Sometimes it's best to just give up on a project-gone-horribly-wrong and take the scissors to it!

And I mean that in a nice way. This was to be a lovely, lace accented cardigan for me.

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As you can see, it is no such thing. It is now a cushion for my knitting chair. It is hard to tell from the photograph, but this is made from Shape-Shifter wool. This yarn has an ability to grow and change shape all by itself and in ways that all the swatching in the world (and washing of said swatches) can not prepare one for.

I did the swatching. Lots of swatching in fact...four different needle sizes worth. I washed the swatches, gasping in amazement at how the "super" (and I use that word loosely) wash wool expanded, never to shrink back to its post wetting loveliness.

"That's fine,", I said, "I'll just alter the pattern and incorporate the post washing changes." Much, much math was done. I had it all figured out. I knew how many stitches less to cast on, how many pattern repeats would fit into that newly calculated stitch count, and how many rows extra I had to knit to get the same length as stated in the pattern. In theory it sounded theory. In actuality things were not going to develop quite as I had planned.

As I knit I had my vague suspicions, niggling little doubts in the back of my mind, but I chose to ignore them. I had done all the MATH after all, things were going to be fine. Unfortunately I had neglected to calculate one thing. I was knitting with the most elastic, springy yarn I had ever had on my needles.....a distant cousin to Cascade Fixation perhaps? Certainly it was spun from the backs of Shape-Shifter Sheep.

This (ex) sweater is knit in one piece to the underarms where it is then divided for fronts and back. A lot of time and a lot of knitting takes place before you reach the underarms of a seamless sweater for a gal my size. I spent all that time. I knit all those stitches. And then I divided for the underarms and Whoa! What happened here? Time for a reality check. With the knitted piece no longer scrunched up on a circular needle there was no more denying it, this was going to be far too large. Gynormous in fact. *sigh* *whimper*

Did I crumble? Did I lay down and die? No, no not I. I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to (steek, cut, and graft) I know I will stay alive. (My apologies to Gloria Gaynor.)

Those readers who have been with me since the beginning of this blog know the story of the birthing of the "Cushion Foot Socks". I used the same technique again. This time though, instead of a failed cushion becoming a pair of socks, I am working in reverse and a failed cardigan is becoming a cushion. Sorry, I did not document this project as well as I did the socks.

As I stared dejectedly at the Never-To-Become-A-Cardigan pile of knitting I remembered the socks and wondered if this too could become a resurrected wonder. "Why yes, YES!" I thought, "It matches my chair perfectly. Could it not recover my old, tattered cushion? Of course it could!". I neatly put everything away and went to bed for it was late. I then tossed and turned all night as visions of cushion possibilities danced in my head.

The next morning, bright and early, I wrapped, I measured, I sewed and I hacked. I wrapped the cushion with the preknit fabric, marked the overlap and took it to the sewing machine. After sewing a vertical line to stay the fabric I boldly set at it with the scissors. Tossing aside the extra width I covered the newly cut edge in a row of crochet, sewed buttons under the button band (which I had wisely chosen to incorporate in the cushion design), mattress stitched a seam at the bottom and grafted the stockinette portion at the top. Walla! No longer a failed cardigan, we now have a successful, Shape Shifter Cushion.


Leisel said...


First, I'm so impressed by your adaptability. I probably would've ripped it before I'd thought to do anything so nice with it.

Second, I'm impressed with all you did to make the failed sweater into a pillow. It sounds like so much work.

And third... it looks fantastic. I could see making something like this ON PURPOSE.

Marlene said...

It wasn't that much work Leisel. Far, far more time and effort had already gone into the knitting of the piece to that point and I was not about to rip it all out.

Desperation is the mother of creativity.

Maggie Ann said...

You are a genius Marlene...and I'm always admiring your creations so this doesn't surprise me that you turned the would-be sweater into a lovely cushion...and what a pretty color!