Remembering an Intarsia Cushion

When sorting out my external hard drives the other day, I came across some textile photos from 20 years (and more) ago.  I thought some of them were worth a new look!

The first of these is a hand spun cushion cover I did in the early years of the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.  The tutor for this workshop was Lucy Neatby, and the brief was to create a colourful piece.

I was living on the island of South Ronaldsay at the time, looking over Eastside Bay to the Grimness headland.  The land was all farmed, so for much of the spring, summer and autumn the fields formed a patchwork of colours.  In particular, in August and September the colours of the grass and the barley, set against the blues of the sea, fascinated me.

I used Falkland top – 3 greens, 3 yellows, 3 blues, brown and white.  I spun singles to a half-aran thickness, and then plied each colour against itself, and against the other shades in the group.  This gave me a wide variety of colours.  I knitted up a stocking stitch swatch and made graph paper with the correctly proportioned squares.

The next job was to transfer the view from the window on to graph paper.  I had already decided to go for an abstract effect, and to use different stitches, as well as different colours for the fields.  Working in pencil, I transferred the lines to the paper, then turned the lines into stitches.  I labelled the colours with letters and numbers and wrote the colour of each section on to the chart.  I also added purl stitches to show the stitch texture.

Then came what proved to be the quickest part – the knitting!  I had often worked intarsia, so knew the key was to be organised.  The yarns stayed in their basket on my knee, and ends were woven in every couple of inches.

To give the idea of a frame, I picked up all round the square and worked a moss stitch border.  For the back, I used the left-over yarn (but unfortunately forgot to take a photo of it!). I no longer have the cushion.  It was one of the casualties when my house in St Margaret’s Hope was flooded in 2005. 


6 thoughts on “Remembering an Intarsia Cushion

  1. That is very pretty, and a wonderful idea. How great you could make all those colors with your spinning.
    (I started a complicated intarsia project once and quit. It was too advanced for me then. Now I’m inspired, and bet I could do it.)
    Also made me think about a stash of old needlepoint canvas and yarns I have and a possible bargello idea for an abstract cushion. but first, have to knit a baby sweater for a grand nephew coming soon!

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