Wool Ambition: When we started out on this project, we were both extremely keen that the finished property would reflect our respective interests, tastes and expertise. I touched on one of the areas of my To Do List briefly before, and can now share in more detail here. We have been admiring some scatter cushions and blankets in various homeware shops all along, but there was no way that I was going to allow something to appear in the property that I could have made myself. And made better.
Getting the Look: I am a good crocheter, but had never attempted something like this. But was convinced that it could be done - even though it is usually more of a knitting or embroidery technique. I did some research into intarsia patterns (essentially where the pattern is built into the fabric design, as in the cushions are in the above picture) and the various techniques used to achieve it. I came across a technique called Tunisian Crochet, which was developed in Victorian England by women who created their own fabrics to embroider or stitch tapestry onto. The technique produces a stitch in a perfect square, which means cross stitch or tapestry stitches can be overlaid and produces a great visual design effect.
Pattern Problem: I researched various intarsia Tunisian crochet patterns - looking into various books, or online forums or online downloadable patterns, but couldn't find anything that would really suit this project, or anything that Darren would frankly ever let near the chalet. These cushions must to be modern and fun (maybe a touch of irony in there too? Is that aiming too high?), and not stuffy or old fashioned.
A Sidebar Rant: I have never understood why most crochet patterns are of things you would NEVER WANT TO SPEND HOURS MAKING, let alone allow near your home to own. It's enormously frustrating. Those patterns are what gives crochet a bad name and makes people like husband Darren look at my half finished projects with enormous suspicion and narrowed eyes and a slightly strangled voice (until they see the finished article of course).
Solving the Problem: A few years ago I used a programme called PC Stitch to embroider two A3 lifelike pictures of my sister's two dogs for her wedding present. These were framed and now hang on the wall like a stitchy lifelike painting. The programme basically turns any photo or picture into a pattern, with any number of colours (to make it look like the real thing).
Working it Out: Given that those Victorian ladies used to use Tunisian crochet as a basis for their cross stitch or tapestry projects I reasoned that this could be a solution to designing my own patterns. I sourced some appropriate and anti-stuffy (is that a thing?) silhouette designs from a free clip art site online and uploaded them to the programme. And created my own chart.
Plan into Reality: I have now made 7 charts, and 4 appropriate anti-old-fashioned cushions are already on their way, with more still to come. In the Alice in Wonderland themed bunk room I'm planning on a tea cup and top hat. For the master bedroom, a crown (obviously the person paying the bills and therefore is the ruler of the proverbial roost). These pictured ones haven't been blocked yet. Blocking means when a project is flattened and straightened to compensate for working with something as unpredictable and natural as wool - the fabric is wetted and stretched out and pinned into shape. A bit like reshaping your jumper after washing. This means that the Apple won't look so tall and not quite round enough - stretch properly width wise and look accurate. It will mean that the crown below will be a perfect square.
Next Step: Is to sew them onto the plain backs I've made, add in the zip fastening and get stuffing with a lovely fluffy feather inner. And then pop on the beds as a finishing touch...