The Stump

Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I used to write blog posts of themed crochet projects. These Pattern Galleries were mostly links to actual patterns, but occasionally contained inspiration-only images.

It was there that I first idea’d a crocheted stump ottoman. In the Pouf Collection, which I so aptly described as
” Poufs, ottomans, small stools, floor cushions (n.) – furniture that allows me to lay around on the ground like a lazy slob while giving off the appearance of being classy. “
I featured this image of a now-unavailable product from Anthropologie.

Welcome to the world of slow art! Because today I have an actual, finished product inspired by that post that feels like forever ago (it wasn’t, but you know…)

I did put a stump ottoman “firmly on my to-do list” in fact, but I didn’t actually start the project until 2017, when I purchased a slightly beat-up vintage ottoman and wanted to cover the nasty vinyl with something cooler. A removable, freeform cover in the shape of a stump would be just perfect.

I started by gathering all my little bits of white and beige scrap yarn and crocheting a flat, ringed circle. Spike stitches and varying my stitch height were strategies I used to give it a naturally odd appearence – totally symmetrical was not the goal.

This of course was the top of my stump, where the inner rings of the tree are showing. Once I had this circle big enough to cover the top of the ottoman, I folded it up and put it aside to start on the bark, which would go around the outside of the ottoman.

I chose to alternate a light brown with a dark brown, both #3 or #4 weight throughout the piece, and all worked as post stitches of various heights. I used a spike stitch to create a segmented texture in the bark.

I started the bark with a 4.00 mm hook. Working post stitches in worsted yarn with a 4.00 hook is pretty tough and slow going though, really – if you’re not used to it. I quickly grew bored with the bark and put the project aside, making some effort at progress but mostly be distracted by other things (like the budding Elf Coat project).

Well, after a time I reshuffled my life and ended up losing the ottoman that The Stump was to cover. But I kept my project, determining I could find another way to fill it. If I could convince myself to finish that awefully boring bark part.

I did hack away at it occasionally until about two months ago, when I decided to finish this thing for real. I switched hooks, sizing up to a 4.5 mm to speed the process along, and made the project a priority. I needed almost 70″ of bark in length to match the circumference of the flat top, and with some gritting of the teeth, I got it.

In addition to the freaky freeform eyeball knot I worked into the texture 😉

I took a few videos of me working along the way, for posterity. Here’s a demo video of the bark, showing how I worked the post stitches, dual strands, and spike stitches to create the texture.

Time to construct! Using locking stitch markers, I measured roughly how the bark would attach and then stitched it together.

I added a few more freeform rounds around the top to give it a nice gnarly edge, then turned my attention to finishing the main part of the cover.

The eyeball knot got stuffed full of polyester filling and then closed with rounds of stitches worked directly onto the back on the inside.

At this point I was ready to tackle the idea of how to fill this thing. Rather than hunt for a new ottoman over which this could fit, I needed a semi-firm filling that would give the furniture piece some weight and resistance.

A bean bag seemed like the logical conclusion, and I schemed up a bottom portion of the Stump that could be closed with a drawstring and tied shut, so that I could insert or remove a bag full of beans.

Then, beans happened! After I sewed the inner bag out of sheet scraps, I carefully poured a huge bag of styrofoam beans from the craft store in and stuffed that sucker.

Now that the filling part was worked out, I could turn my attention to the most fun part: adding all the growths.

Using a selection of earthy toned scrap yarns, I applied myself to creating three types of moss, two batches of lichens, extra bark, shelf fungus, and toadstools either worked directly onto the piece or sewn on after.

Once the last lichen was nestled in, I took a deep breath and a minute to pat myself on the back. Finally done!

And because it grew with me over time, my connection to this piece feels pretty personal. I dyed that lichen yarn, I spun that moss, I rescued those scraps. I cussed at that bark, delighted over those toadstools, cried on those tree rings. At first we were strangers, but now The Stump and I are good friends (I fear I will end up referring to it as Stumpie, now matter how hard I try not to).

The hedgehogs were excited.

Here’s the link to the Ravelry Project Page, which has the full compliment of pictures, if you want to give Stumpie a fave (oh no…).

I’m off to personify yarn somewhere else for a while, and hopefully not start any more four year fiber art projects (yeah right).

-MF

P.S – In case you spied the other crocheted accessories and were curious:
I’m wearing two other Morale Fiber designs in these photos – the Spiral Sweater and the Ivy Crown as a boot wrap. 😉
The pumpkin pictured and the felted hedgehogs are also made by me.

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