RSS Feed

Tag Archives: French knitting

A Colourful Corking Cushion

Posted on

This post will return very briefly to the subject of cushions. I have recently finished making the round cushion that I mentioned in my earlier post. This cushion has a front of French knitting (also called tomboy knitting, spool knitting and corking) and the back is part of an old jumper.

French knitting is très simple! The hardest bit is the casting on. This was the first time I’d done French knitting for a while and the casting on took me a while but I got it in the end. Spool knitting is done on a ‘doll’, a hollow wooden tube with metal pegs on the top. These can be bought in craft shops. The knitting is worked around the pegs and pulled down the tube. There are also plastic French knitting dolls and there are variations on the number of pegs it has, either four or six, I think. Corking is a great way to use up small wool ends that are too short for anything else. Even better, it’s possible to change colour loads of times because all the ends are simply pushed into the tube, nothing could be easier! The front of the cushion is made with a piece about six metres long, it sounds a lot but it builds up quite quickly once you get started. I then sewed the tube in a coil to make a circle and the front was finished. A coil of French knitting can be round or more oval-shaped and it might turn out slightly domed. The coil could be made into a mat, pot holder or a small rug instead.

The cushion and three of my French knitting dolls.

The cushion and three of my French knitting dolls.

The back of the cushion is also wool but made in a very different way. It was originally an old jumper with holes in it. I felted this as an experiment and some of it has been put to use in this cushion. Before I continue, I have a point to make about the word ‘felting’. I am not very sure that it is the correct word to use in this context because it says in a knitting book I have (The Knitting and Crochet Bible by Claire Crompton and Sue Whiting published by D&C) that felting is felting raw wool whereas ‘fulling’ means felting wool that has already been spun and knitted. However, other sources use felting to describe both techniques. I’ll use the word ‘fulling’ in this post because I think it is technically the right one.

Anyway, you can full any piece of knitting as long as it was knitted in 100% pure wool. Acrylic wool and other mixes have been treated so that they don’t shrink and therefore they won’t full properly. You can full old garments, like jumpers or pieces of knitting that you made specially for fulling. There are two ways to full a piece of knitting: by hand or in your washing machine. To full by hand, you need warm water and soap flakes. Gently wash the knitting in the soapy water. Knead the piece to full the fibres. Be careful and check the piece frequently as you work. You may need to experiment with samples before you do the real thing in order to get the best result. When you think it’s done, rinse the soap out in cold water. The fabric should look dense and fuzzy, it shouldn’t be distorted or matted. Wrap the fabric in a towel and then lay it out flat to dry.

The finished cushion, showing the side of French knitting.

The finished cushion, showing the side of French knitting.

The other fulling method is the washing machine method. This is best for when you are fulling several things at once. Add towels to fill the machine to provide friction. Run them a short hot wash and a cold rinse but don’t spin dry them. The washing machine method is great except for the fact that it will fluff up your machine after a while. Fulled fabric is very useful because it won’t fray so there’s no need to hem it when you use it.

For the cushion, I cut the fabric with a paper pattern and dressmakers scissors. The cushion is  oversewn at the edges with white wool, but blanket stitch would probably look nicer. I stuffed it with loose stuffing as I couldn’t find a round cushion pad in any shop. I suppose it is an unusual shape for a cushion.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough so I’ll just finish by saying that this French knitting project is easy. The cushion is a perfect way of using up wool scraps and some old clothes, why not have a go?

Comfy Cushions and a Cosy Blanket

Posted on
 cushions and blanket

My four comfy cushions and my cosy blanket

This is my first post on this blog and the first ‘crafty’ post we’ve put up, so it’s kind of a round up of a few related projects I’ve been working on. As you can see from the picture, these are a blanket and four cushions. They each have their own story attached…

The blanket is the first one I’ll talk about and it is the one I’m the proudest of, although I have to say that I was pretty pleased with all of them! The blanket has eight colours of wool in it: rainbow, blue patterned, red patterned, two types of purple, yellow, green and a multicolour of mostly orange, pink, purple red and green. Eight colours times four of each colour is thirty two, so there’s thirty two squares. Needless to say, it did take me quite a while to knit and I have to admit that it took pretty near to a year to get it done. First I had to knit the squares, then iron them, then sew them together, and finally, decorate the edges with blanket stitch.

eight colour blanket

There’s eight colours in the blanket, you can see them all here

The first cushions that I made were the white and pink ones. Have you noticed how similar they look to t-shirts? That’s because they were t-shirts at one time! I found this upcycling idea in a craft book. If you have old and much-loved t-shirts, don’t consign them to the charity shop bag, give them a new lease of life by making them into cushions, that was the idea. It is very simple because all you have to do is sew up the neck and arm holes, stuff the t-shirt and sew up the bottom. Simplicity in itself.  The key is to stuff them really well, mine are a bit limp because I didn’t put a lot of stuffing in them and I’ve never got around to re-doing them.

Item number two is the gingham cushion. A product of Home Economics classes. This was done with a sewing machine, while the t-shirt cushions were sewn by hand,  because I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time. Anyway, the cushion is blue gingham with a felt heart blanket stitched on and two cross stitch boxes. It’s probably fairly standard, but that doesn’t make it any less comfy!

French knitting cushion

This is my ‘work in progress’ cushion. The French knitting will be sewn into a coil and the back of the cushion will be made of the felted jumper.

The next one is the rectangular cushion of knitted squares. I have to admit that I can’t claim full credit for this one because I only knitted three of the squares (blue, pink and yellow and purple). The others were kindly given to me by my Nan who thought I could do something with them. The squares were originally the beginnings of a blanket that had never been finished and there was already a strip of the squares sewn together (in such tiny stitches, I only realised they were there when I looked at the other side). Although I had the pattern for the squares and could have made more to complete the blanket, I quailed at the thought of making another blanket so soon after the first. Therefore, I decided to turn the knitted fabric into a cushion cover, using the existing strip of squares to determine the length and piecing the others together to fit. I added the three more that matched the sides and made it big enough for me to sew. This I did, and then finished the edge in purple blanket stitch (I’m a big fan of blanket stitch, it’s so useful). Due to its unusual shape, it seemed unlikely we would find a pad to fit it, so we cut up an old pillow instead and custom fitted the stuffing.

The final cushion I’m going to mention is a work in progress (WIP). It began when I started to make a random length of French knitting out of my wool scraps. This grew to about five metres long and has a diameter of 30 cm when it is coiled round itself. This is going to form the front of a cushion cover. The back will be a round piece cut and sewn onto it (probably in blanket stitch). This piece will be cut from an old jumper we felted some time ago but have not yet used. It’s a nice shade of red that I think will go with most of the colours on the front. I’ll  probably finish this cushion sometime in the summer.

Anyway, I’ve talked for long enough, what about you? Have you made any cool, creative cushions? Done any upcycling projects? If you have, we’d love to hear! If you haven’t ever made a cushion, it’s a really fun starter project, or a great way to use up spare ribbon, wool, felt, or anything really. Why not have a go, we think you could come up with something that is curiously creative!


You can find a link to the post about making up the round cushion here.

Round Cushion Front

Finished cushion showing multi-colour front.

Round Cushion Back

Back of the cushion.

%d bloggers like this: