Thursday, 2 August 2012

Crochet gingham cushion

I haven’t really crocheted anything for a gift before (except for the heart bunting) as a lot of people don’t “get” crochet, people can be very dismissive of so called "grannyish" crafts.
Just love the colours!
Tots (or Tottie Limejuice as she is often known) has been a wonderful online penpal of mine for several years, we met on twitter. On “paper” we don’t have that much in common, but we get on like a house on fire. We chat most days, on twitter, Facebook and via email. I hope when we finally meet we don’t burn anyone’s house down! It’s very likely we will do something very daft though.

Tots was a journalist in a previous life, and finds words easy, she has recently Kindle published a book about why and how she moved to France about 10 years ago, called “Sell the Pig”. In her words: "What happens when dementia, depressed dipsomania and downright dottiness decide to uproot from the UK and move to France together?"

Without any self pity, she describes tragic life events but two sentences later you are snorting out loud and holding your sides trying not to wet yourself from laughing so much. Tots works from her remote cottage, or Grottage as she fondly calls it, that she has bought and renovated over the past 18 months, in the heart of the mountainous Auvergne region of France. Her outlook is about 20-30 years younger than her official age, with a dry and very quick sense of humour.  Her two dogs are the best dogs in the world, well I let her think that! Tots has always been there for me the last few years, when either of us have tough times we chat, about the world, his oyster, politics, religion, human and animal rights and the downright dottiness of most the world’s inhabitants.

Tots’ new kitchen is beautifully simple…hand made carpentry by her French artisan carpenter neighbour, and cream and blue wall tiles. Tots is a talented writer, but she freely admits that numbers and sewing/crafting are not her forté . Her mother turns in her grave when Tots thinks about threading a needle to patch her trousers. She is very resourceful, and found some bargain gingham curtains online and asked if I could forward them on, which I gladly did, I have seen pics on Facebook but is it my imagination or for real that there is a rocking chair in there too? There definitely is a wooden deck outside the back door with stunning views.
Tots French Kitchen
Last week was Tots’ very significant birthday, the one where in the olden days you got a bus pass and a pension if you were a “lady.” What do you get someone who has very little but loves her life and her dogs, and has no desire whatsoever for “more”, and works extremely hard at leaving as low a carbon footprint and leading as eco a lifestyle as is humanly possible in the western world?

I have been reading lots of crochet blogs recently, and love this one by Little Tin Bird, I fell in love with Heather's “Bullseye” square which is what I was looking for for a cushion project for our bedroom, but I was distracted by the beautifully simple “Elmer” squares.
First Elmer Square
I quickly knocked up one in Stylecraft Aster that I was using for my ripple throw, and it measured a very satisfying 10cm exactly for 5 rounds. So easy, and almost shaker like in its simplicity, I love numbers, patterns and making things! I then made a Cream one, a Denim one and finally one in Bluebell. An hour (well two really) later I had 9 squares or half a cushion, albeit a little cushion.
A Portable Project!
I had more of the aster so I decide to try a gingham effect to go with Tots' kitchen and made those squares over the next few days, with the centre square Sherbet (or Cloud Blue?) and cream.
Elmer Squares in construction
Time was running out, and my parents were moving house, so I rushed up north to Cumbria to help with the 15 mile move, taking my crochet with me. Instead of a plain back, I carried on with squares and made a random patchwork of 9 different blues and lavenders (very Provençal in style!) I used a 35cm IKEA cushion inner (we all have hundreds of those)  and since both are washable I decided Tots had to wash the whole cushion and dry in the hot sun if a mishaps ever occurs as I had no suitable buttons for an opening. The cushion and cover can be tumble dried on cool but neither of us “does” tumble dryers. I don’t like things to be so “precious” you can’t use them for worry about spills and being dragged through a hedge backwards by a dog. The squares sewed up very quickly using the ends, so that eliminated the dreaded sewing in of most of the ends as well, I liked that efficiency. I sew right sides together but catch the outside loops of each stitch only, and then it doesn’t matter what colour yarn you are using for the join as it doesn’t show, and they lie really flat.
Neat Stitching!
Patchwork Provncal One Side and Gingham Reverse
Two rounds of treble round each of the nine square patch made a 35cm square , I just crocheted the squares together and made the edge in the same process  using treble stitch around three sides in cream then I inserted the pad and continued until it was closed. My husband said that was good for the border (I hadn't left for Cumbria yet!) He is a great believer that when a job is done it’s done, nice and neat no faffing.  Me being me, I wanted to play a little more so I added Attic 24’s very simple picot trim once I was out of his sight oop norf. I think it finished it off stylishly without being frilly or fussy.  You just have to count carefully coming into the corners to jiggle the spacing a little to get round neatly.
Simple Picot Edging
I took a few photos of the finished cushion in mum and dad’s house and garden, on the very last day of 15 years of living there. Mum is also a great gardener, just like Tots, I haven’t inherited those skills! I carefully wrapped the little cushion and posted it from Cumbria to France, with love, a little project like this is also satisfyingly economical to post abroad if wrapped in carrier bags (how glamorous) no danger of breakages! I knew Tots would approve of not giving RM too much money.
Gingham is "Vichy" in French!
Gingham Solid Granny Squares Cushion
Provencal Solid Granny Squares Cushion
Royal Mail and La Poste came up trumps and delivered the parcel on exactly the right significant day, and here it is in its new home.
Gingham Cushion in situ at Tots Grottage!
Provencal side!
I so enjoyed making it that I think a blanket with Elmer squares has to be a future project. Perhaps for Tots next significant birthday in 10 years’ time, I don’t want her getting ideas! Really I’d love to hand deliver next time. One day!

Gingham Solid Granny Square Cushion finished 23rd July 2012, it took me three days as there was a deadline!

FINISHED SIZE: 35cm square + edging, each square was 10cm

YARN:  Oddments of Stylecraft Special 100% acrylic Double Knit in 10 colours, each square is about 15m yarn (left over from my Rainbow Ripple)
Bluebell 1982
Wisteria 1432
Denim 1302
Sherbet 1034
Aspen 1422
Clematis 1390
Aster 1003
Lavender 1188
Cloud Blue 1019
Cream 1005

Hook: 4mm

PATTERNS: Solid Granny Squares (or Elmer Squares) pattern by Little Tin Bird
Picot Edging by Attic 24


PS Did you know the French for gingham is "Vichy" which is also where the mineral water comes from, a city close to the Grottage. Gingham is rumoured to have originated in Vichy although there is also likely to be an Indian connection as well. No I didn't know either!


  1. Thanks for your sweet comment Fiona and I love your crochet cushion :)

    Sandra x

    1. You're a huge inspiration to me Sandra, thank you Fiona

  2. I love your crochet cushion!! I just finished one for my trailer/caravan - and we're heading off for a weeklong camping trip next week. Your friendship sounds wonderful. I added your blog to my blog list! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    1. I hope you;'re enjoying your camping trip, can't wait to see more photos of Oregon and your wonderful makes. Fiona x

  3. What a beautiful cushion! The colours work brilliantly and your joining is so neat. It's lovely when you make things that are well received. thank you for liking my pattern :-D

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous solid granny squares pattern Heather, I love it and am already well ahead on some bullseye cushions for us! I forgot to say in the write up I tried finishing the round in the more normal manner on one square and it looked awful, your way is genius! Fiona PS I have to make a throw in Elmers too!

  4. Also love your cushion and the gingham curtain too ☺☺
    Like catching up via my blog to yours and so many other
    wonderful places.
    have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you Wendy, I just happened to be at Mum's and I had to finish and post to Tottie, and Mum had those nice gingham curtains in her bathroom, my parents moved the next day and I have first dibs on them if she doesn't use them in the new house! Fiona

  5. Hi Fiona, I have found your lovely blog via Amanda at Crafty In the Med and I am following you now - I love your cushion cover it is really beautiful and a wonderful gift. Yvonne xx

    1. I love your blog too Islay (I know that's not your name but I love the Scottish Islands), I think we are kindred spirits and look forward to your posts. Thank you! Fiona

  6. Dear Fiona!
    The earth colors are always soo calm and soothing! I love your blue Elmer cushion cover. Most definitely on my list of to-dos for this year..


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