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Archive entry for March 2021

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March 2021

Adaptable design... (for a "modern" chair)


This is a needlepoint design with instructions below. However, needlepoint charts can be used for colourwork in knitting, so I also discuss the possibility of adapting it to use for a "modern" cushion cover.

This chair on which the cover is shown seems far from modern for the 1950s when this pattern was published, but this might have been a way to try an update it. They reassure us: "you can extend this design as required to fit any chair or stool top; with careful colour choosing the pattern would suit period pieces as well as modern furniture". This particular chair seems very similar to my Mother's dining set purchased in 1938, where the seat is wider at the front that the back (so not quite square), but the chair's construction seems a bit more solid, so it is probably a little older.
Sadly, his type of brown furniture is even less popular today than it was when this was first published - but upcycling with chalk paint and a colourful fabric is always a possibility.

Needlepoint embroidery instructions.

As I said in the introduction - these are the instructions for needlepoint, with notes on using the chart for a knitted cushion at the end.

Make a paper pattern of seat, and draw round the outline, centring the pattern, on the canvas. Mark the centre line in each direction and start the diamond pattern on the centre point.
Each square of the chart equals 1 stitch and an exact repeat of pattern is shown on the chart. Extend the design outwards all round to the pencil outline.

The main design is worked in tent-stitch (a slanting-stitch over one
intersection on the right side and two double threads at the back; work each stitch in two separate movements, down and up); all brown stitches (leaves, stalks and single stitch in centre of small lime motifs) are in single cross-stitch.

Press, stretch and mount finished tapestry as required.

Mounting Tapestry

Before mounting your work, press it carefully on wrong side under a lightly damped cloth. If, through not working in a frame, the tapestry has got out of shape, pin out face downwards on a clean cloth, stretching it to the correct shape; press the wrong side carefully under a damp cloth, and leave pinned out for 24 hours.
This should help, and you can correct any further distortion by stretching the work well as you mount it.

To mount, lay the tapestry flat, wrong side up, then place the seat pad on top. Bring tapestry up sides of padded cushion part and fix temporarily with lots of ordinary sewing pins, turning to the front again and again to check the correct positioning of the design.

When it is firmly held with pins all round, fold the surplus edges of the canvas over the wooden frame of the pad, and nail firmly in position with tacks and a hammer, or use a staple gun, mitreing the corners as neatly as possible.
Remove the sewing pins and cover the underside of the pad with the usual utility furnishing material.

Charted cushion adaptation.

You can easily use an embroidery chart as a colourwork chart for knitting.
And you do not have to adapt it - but there is one snag. Unlike cross-stitch embroidery, a knitted stitch is not square - so your resulting knitted cushion will not be square and the geometric pattern will be distorted.
Now if you want to design your own pattern charts, and take account of the shape of the stitches, you can use "knitter's graph paper" - a link to free graph paper charts is at the top of the right-hand side bar, and you can choose your tension and print the paper yourself. There is a great tutorial at The Twisted Yarn.
You could use this to try and adapt this pattern but trying to make perfect square shapes can be a bit tricky - and I have not tried to do so.
[Editor's note: Another way to make stitches more or less symmetrical is to work in garter stitch - you would need to work every row twice to make this work.

So here is the chart in some nice shades of yellow and grey.

Assuming you are familiar with the idea of working from charts, as usual, the charts show the right, or knitted, side of the work, reading knit rows from right to left; every alternate row worked in purl and read from left to right. The yarn not in use is carried loosely across the back of the fabric all the time, so it will be taken behind the stitches on a knitted row and in front of them on a purled row.

Ideally you need to keep within a maximum of about five or six stitches in each colour so that you don't have to carry the yarn not in use across too many stitches at the back of the work. It is feasible to carry the yarn across a greater number of stitches as long as you don't pull the yarn so tightly that it puckers your work.
[Editor's note: When you are making actual garments with motifs, it is not good practice to leave large loops of yarn at the back as they tend to catch on buttons etc as you pull sweaters on and off (ask me how I know). With cushions like this it is less important as the wrong side of the work is enclosed and unlikely to be pulled once finished.]

Finally - here's a roughly square cushion made up of 3 x 4 distorted motifs showing what it might actually look like:

Making up

For a cushion you need two identical pieces. You could make two knitted pattern pieces, or make one of them in plain knitting, or back the cushion with fabric, cut to the right size (don't forget to allow extra on the fabric to turn in the raw edges).
Sew the two cushion pieces together on three sides.
Insert a cushion pad and sew up the fourth side.

The size (and shape) of the resulting cushion cover will depend on the yarn you choose to work with. For a standard double knitting yarn, a 3 x 4 motif should work out to a size of about 22 inches wide and x 23 inches high.


Tapestry canvas about 23 inches square for a 17 inch square pad. This would be about ⅝ of a yard, or about 60 cm of an appropriate width.
[Editor's note: Choose a canvas appropriate for the wool you are using (I know - sounds obvious). Most tapestry wools are design for a thread count of between 10 and 14.

The quantities given for tapestry wool skeins of 15 yards each:
11 Dark Brown
9 Rust
8 Grey
1 Lime

Size Matters

Designed to cover an "average" chair at 17 inches square.


Most tapestry wools are design for a thread count of between 10 and 14; This design appears to be for a count of about 10, using the picture as a guide.

A Word on the Wool

This design is made using Beehive tapestry canvas No 702, and Beehive tapestry wool.


In transposing any pattern it is always a risk that errors will be introduced, in spite of dedicated proof reading.
If you have any problems with this pattern, please and I will try and assist.

© Christina Coutts 2007

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