Summer Garden


If I had to pick just one image that says “New Zealand Summer,” the above picture would be it.  There is nothing  in the world that brings instant summer holiday vibes into my life like seeing the blazing red flowers of the Pohutukawa tree with a bright blue sky in the background.  Legend has it, that if the Pohutukawa flowers before Christmas Day we are in for a hot summer.   This year they flowered at the beginning of December…. and what a summer we are having.  Today, not so great, but there is a cyclone warning out, but the last couple of months have been utter bliss and it feels as though winter will never exist again.

There have been summers where I remember the Pohutukawa didn’t flower until after Christmas Day and it really wasn’t a lovely summer, but we’re making up for it this year for sure.

I took these pictures a few weeks ago… the trees have lost their red flowers now, but looking at them as I upload them is making me feel all good inside again!  Pohutukawas are mainly coastal trees but also grow around some lakes too…. I didn’t know until just now, that they’re being decimated by possums, like so much of our native bush *insert sad face here* but the Department of Conservation is well onto that sort of business and preserving our native bush….

You can see all of that yellow pollen on the ends of the stamens there… KB is allergic to pollen, I’m not, but when the Pohutukawa is flowering and I get a big whiff of that sweet, cloying scent, I just want to go and have a big sleep…. No wonder poor KB is such a mess at this time of year!

A few weeks ago, rememer I was decluttering? I decluttered my stash and sorted it out and it was lovely, I also pulled out the summer garden granny square cushion fronts I had hooked together and then hidden away, and decided that because it was the new year, I really needed to do something with them.

These summer garden granny squares have become an epic saga…. If you remember, I began my blog with the intention of posting my progress through the blanket I was making… I gave up after 52 squares… then months ago I hooked them into one cushion which I LOVED and is still one of my favourite cushions ever.  Then, one afternoon I hooked the rest into two cushion covers and left them half-made, oh and a few even went into Raymond’s birthday blanket too…..

The epic journey has come to and end…. One afternoon in my holidays, I just did it!  I hooked two big squares for the backs, then made them into cushions, and now I have a set of three!

Even though I have been avoiding these squares for months, hiding them in a bag in my stash, when they are a complete cushion, I just love them!  They are so happy and colourful, all of those beautiful dancing colours surrounded by the natural, undyed wool…..

I felt a little smug when I was working on these cushions…. you see…. I found a few balls of nasty acrylic in my messy stash that I decluttered.  (Sorry, blatant yarn snobbery happening here, but you’ll understand why soon enough…)  I decided to use that to back the cushions, as it was only $2 per ball and I only needed half a ball per back.  “Gosh”  I thought smugly….” thats a great way to use up my acrylic and save some money on the cushions”… they cost about $2o-30 each to make, so cost cutting can be nice!

Smug smug smug smug smug smug…..

Until the terrible ache set in… a raw, burning ache in my wrists and shoulders…..

“What’s happening to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee???”  I cried to KB…. This is unnatural!  KB thought for a moment and then asked if I’d been using acrylic lately, because on the few occasions I’ve used acrylic, I end up in pain afterwards… she is sooooooooo observant….. well, maybe I just complain a lot so she HAS to notice things like that….

And it dawned on me… the acrylic had caused the pain, and I got quite annoyed at that and no longer felt smug…. then cleaned out my stash…. anything that had even a percentage of acrylic in it went to the op shop….

Do you have unusual reactions to seemingly innocent yarn?? 

Despite the pain and the annoyance at having to take a craft break, I still loooooove these cushions and love that they all match and look beautiful on my day bed!  And the summer garden granny square chapter is closed!  Thank you lovely Lucy once again, for the pattern!

Well… I’m off to brave the misty rain and head to the library to get some essays written… I just can’t do it at home because there is just too much wool here for me to concentrate on anything except fun, makey-things…..

I hope you’re having a lovely day!  Wishing you lots of blessings!


About Crochet with Raymond

I'm a crochet obsessed, reiki master, crystal healing, yoga junkie, counselling student, in a happy long term relationship... and Raymond's mum!
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30 Responses to Summer Garden

  1. Emma Angel says:

    Those flowers are so beautiful. I don’t think that we have them in the UK, I’ve certainly not seen any up in the north.
    Your cushions are great, although your reaction to the yarn sounds awful. I hope you feel better soon.
    Thank you for the lovely, bright pictures.

  2. Joyce says:

    Good Morning Alice, these cushions are lovely. Yes, I need to take breaks when using not so nice yarns, but when using the good stuff, I can crochet for days. Well I would be able to crochet for days if I didn’t have ‘stuff’ to do. It’s a wonderful feeling to finish a project, to have it completely completed and on display/in use. You not only have come to the end of a project, but more importantly created space in the stash to collect more. Have a lovely day at your place, you make me feel guilty, I haven’t touched my studies since ummmm, mid-December *yikes* oh well, kids and life come first. Enjoy.

  3. summerfete says:

    Lovely cushions, I like the base colour.
    I had major pain in my wrist from crocheting with a cotton yarn, quite scary!

    Wishing it was sunny here in the UK so I can garden, serious withdrawl!!


  4. Andrea says:

    Another lovely post, Alice. Gorgeous flowers and I still can’t get my head around the fact you have Christmas in Summer!!! Bonkers!!! Santa must get very hot in his big red suit🙂 More fabulous cushions! Your home must be soooo comfy xxx

  5. Pati from London says:

    Hello Alice! I should be studying right now also and where am I???? here reading your lovely post. I like the colour combo for these cushions, the grey borders go very well with your bench and the other colours make the place lively and lovely….
    I’ve never heard of the acrylic allergy before… gosh! am glad I don’t have it as I’ve just spent a fortune on a 100% wool vintage style granny square bed throw and feel the need to economize a bit…..
    Those flowers are gorgeous….. it’s really interesting to see the different plants that grow all over the world. Beautiful! Now back to my reading… night, night from London (where there’s no flower in sight…. yet!) x Pati

  6. Hi Alice Your cushions look divine, did you keep the back in acrylic or have you done them in the natural wool….I love that natural wool and with your colours popping out in the squares PERFECT!!! Do you notice the acrylic if you lie on it??? I don’t seem to get a reaction but then I don’t use much straight acrylic, its usually a wool blend with a tiny bit if I use any. Except for the SIBOL squares and they are small so no reactions yet 🙂
    Lucky Raymond having those squares in his blanket, he knows a good thing when he sees it!!

  7. Robin says:

    Love the cushions! Can’t imagine arcylic being so harsh to you. Good thing you realize it now. NO more Arcylic for YOU! AND I can be and guess I am a yarn snob too! OH WELL it could be worse! Enjoy every one of your posts. xoRobin❤

  8. Anne says:

    Beautiful flowers. I fell in love with New Zealand when my partner, daughter (who was 3) and I travelled around both islands 7 years ago. We were there for 21 days, and drove over 5000 kms before we saw our first live possum (lost count of how many dead possums/road kills we saw). We had no idea of what a pest they have become over there.

    We thought about moving there for a while. I love the beauty and the volcanoes, and there was so much creativity. Have you seen the beautiful public toliet made by the artist Hundertwasser? It is in the town of Kawakawa. Seeing the Craft and Wool shops as we were travelling around got me back into knittting again.

    Wow! What a reaction to acrylic yarn. I find it harder to knit with. It can be so stiff and doesn’t glide off the needle like wool does.

    Oh, I do love your pillows too….:)

  9. Amanda C says:

    I love the cushions. Wonderful colours!!

  10. Sandi says:

    Alice I know what you mean, when I first started to crochet (I can say last year now) I bought some cheap acrylic yarn and it was such hard work to crochet with, then I had a go at wool, oooohhhhh so easy, it just glides through the hook, no more restling with squeeky, non giving yarn. I still use a mix of wool and acrylic on the odd occasion but the composition is mostly wool. I do love the pure wool and cottons tho.
    Your scarf is gorgeous, love the color, and KB’s artwork is amazing, she should do something with that. Your cushions are gorgeous too!!
    x Sandi
    Oh yes we had one of those trees in the beach house, only we called it a NZ Christmas tree so much easier for us non natives to pronounce.

  11. Aisyah Helga says:

    I love those cushions!! No wonder I have backache! I’m always using acrylic yarns because that’s what’s readily available here. I will try ordering some wool soon.

  12. MeredithJean says:

    Hhhahhhahaaaa yes we only love quality yarns once we have tried them. I have one big crappy ball of 100% acrylic in my stash. I keep it for ‘experiments’. And can’t bring myself to use it, in case the experiment works out well and it will be nasty and useless because of the wool. I also think bad yarn dampens inspiration. Yarn that overly splits is not a pleasant experience either.
    Alice you are like The Princess & The Pea fairy tale :)) Remember the test of a true princess is one who can feel the presence of a single pea underneath 20 mattresses? Your hands and wrists just KNOW when the yarn is garbage. They yell out to you “OY ALICE DON’T USE THAT YARN!”

  13. Jan Quigley says:

    The cushions are gorgeous. I’m a wool snob too, I know acrylics have improved but I think back to when they would stretch or pill with very little use. If I’m going to put so much work into something I want it to look good & last.
    I imagine the pain is because there is just no ‘give’ in acrylic yarns. My mum does tons of charity knitting & crocheting & she uses acrylic because of the cost. She also suffers badly with carpal tunnel, I must tell her the yarn could be aggravating it!!!!
    Love your blog.🙂

  14. Dorothy says:

    Interesting thought re acrylic Alice🙂 What a good excuse to stock up on more wool. I got some more Noro Taiyo in today’s mail – here comes another Queen Anne’s scarf. You’re going to love the colours. D. xoxox
    PS those NZ Christmas Trees (that’s what I used to call them) bring back fond memories of when I lived in Auckland. Thanks.

  15. Hahnsmum . says:

    Well there you go, eh!!! l bought a hand support last fortnight because of the acute pain in my hand & sometimes both hands..l was sure it was the Carpel Tunnel ( although l have had both hands operated on a few yrs back )) returning..NEVER gave the acrylic wool a thought.. l am madly trying to finish a very scrappy Acrylic blankie for the Wrap With Love group.. l certainly DO NOT use my gorgeous pure Nundle wool on charity knitting..l am definately a yarn snob.. Yr cushions are really nice.. Keep up the great blog.. Regards, Pam Clarke.
    New England, NSW, OZ..

  16. hawthorn says:

    I used to live in Africa and we had your Pohutukawa there, only we called it the New Zealand Bottle Brush plant, I had forgotten about the pollen and that heavenly rich scent.
    I love how the undyed wool of your summer garden granny cushions is the same tonal shades of the sun bleached blocks of wood – beautiful.
    hawthorn in a dull and dreary winter’s day in the uk – please send sunshine forthwith!

  17. Louise says:

    Alice, you sensitive wee lady!!! I use the crappy stuff exclusively as the good stuff is so expensive. By the way thanks for all the hot weather info, we have frost. I am not envious… much….oh ok I am, very!

  18. Doreen says:

    Your cushions look great. I love the colours. I have never made cushions, but we are planning to redecorate the lounge, perhaps I will try this year. That’s almost a New Year Resolution.

  19. Tatyana says:

    Lovely pillows, and just in summer colours!🙂
    Your photos are wonderful, thank you for sharing!

    Best wishes,

  20. summerfete says:

    Hello again, thanks for your interest in the bear, my first bear made last year was actually named Raymond by my husband!

    I also love NZ I spent 4 weeks travelling around and would love to return, for sure.
    One of our favourite places was Wanaka, very isolated though!!

    Enjoy the sun..I’ve just sat outside in the sun for the first time this year, hooray!

    ps. bears are easy to crochet, give it a go.

    Clare x

  21. Karen says:

    Hi Alice

    You can buy the plants here in the garden centres in UK but they are verrry expensive and called Bottle Brush, which they are also called in South Africa where i’m from. They are in tons of gardens in SA , I love them and their bristly ways.

    I use a very nice and soft acrylic yarn for blankets because they are easier to wash and tumble dry beautifully on a low heat. Here in UK in wintertime that’s a serious plus factor. That said it has taken me a while to source this lovely soft yarn and the colours are abundant. Nasty scratch acrylic yarns makes my wrist ache too and also the skin on my pinky finger gets a rash from the yarn running round it.

    K x

  22. Gail says:

    Hi Alice, thanks for stopping over at the teapot. The flowers look great, makes me hunger for the spring and summer. You can feel the warmth in the pics. Also your cushions are lovely, like the colors! 🙂

  23. Siobhan says:

    Your cushions are beautiful – I love your photo arrangement and the location you used for them. No reaction to acrylic and in fact I often like the stuff – yes you can argue about it not be eco friendly but by the time the sheep have been dipped in pesticide and the practice of mulesing and the chemical dyes added to the end result, I tend to think it pretty equal and neither exactly kind to the planet – nothing we do as humans seems to be. I won’t use merino wool ever, because of mulesing; some things are more important than soft wool. The woolen sock yarn I am using right now has been dyed to within an inch of its life and also I suspect been treated and although very pretty makes me cough and gives me a headache when I use it. Even the 100 per cent natural eco friendly wool I have gives off a very chemical smell, so was probably chemically treated afterwards. What I don’t like about acrylic is that it sometimes seems to be literally too full of dye, some is rough and squeaky which I don’t like but some is very soft and very user friendly. I like wool a lot and I quite like rough and ready wool even but it is a long way from being a natural – as it came from the sheep product unless you do it yourself (like your mum!) I’ve spent a lot of money on wool and yarn of other fibres – my cotton/linen mix yarn hand-warmers which were very expensive, shredded like cardboard and the worst culprits for having knots and faults in were the most expensive brands, which didn’t please me. I am not a yarn snob because if I buy something ready made from the shops, chances are it will be acrylic and I still like it and I buy it. It seems weird to only apply yarn snobbery to stuff I make so I don’t. The thought of trying to manage to hand-wash a woolen blanket terrifies me! Not to mention spending £250 (about 400 Australian $) on making the thing – could never justify it, ever. Having said that most of the stuff I make to wear is wool as it is small stuff. My one acrylic scarf keeps it’s shape so much better than my wooly stuff but my Noro scarf is my very favourite it has to be said. Some people can’t wear wool as it can be very scratchy and they are allergic to the lanolin in it.

  24. Amanda says:

    Oh what a beautiful tree… I cannot wait for Spring to arrive here now!

    And the cushions are gorgeous, though sorry to hear about your reaction. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I cannot use wool blends because the feel of the fibres running through my fingers as a crochet sets me right on edge (it’s that spine-tingling, creepy-crawling, fingernails on blackboard type of reaction). So there are very few yarns I can bear to use… bamboo yarn being my favourite, but as it is so expensive I often have to use one of the “ultra soft” yarns that unfortunately often has acrylic in it. I wish it weren’t so, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to crochet at all.

    Knitting, however, is another story (though I am not so good at knitting and rarely do it). As long as the wool blend is a baby blend (you know, the softer ones) then I can manage, because the way I knit is totally different and I don’t generally have yarn running through my fingers as I do when I crochet.

    Funny, huh?

  25. Melissa says:

    You’re cushions are beautiful and it’s always fun to save a little money. I’m sorry you had a bad reaction to the yarn. Some wool/acrylic mixes cause my allergies to flair up and I get itchy eyes and nose – Not fun. Hope your essays go well.

  26. Penelope says:

    Oh my goodness, I remember them as bottle brush trees in South Africa! How incredible to see one again, I feel totally uplifted, thank you Alice xox Your cushions are a deight, just wallow in all their glory xxxxx P xxxx

  27. Dorien says:

    I’ve never seen a beautiful blooming tree like that. Those flowers are awesome. How great you are now in the midst of summer! Reading about it in your blog makes me feel a little bit better!
    Your cushions are lovely. And me too, I’m really allergic to acrylic. Nothing snobby about it, it just aches and gives me a terrible rasch.
    enjoy your summer days, Dorien

  28. Marla says:


    I’m just the opposite…. my hands and arms ache after fooling with wool. Cotton or acrylic are my choices although baby stuff in cotton does not usually wear well. I’m no yarn snob though, I don’t need the expensive yarns to use. I’d have gladly taken your acrylic! LOL Or give it to Raymond to play with!

  29. Planet Penny says:

    Love those bottle brush trees! What a difference seeing them ‘en masse’ like that when we only see them here as small specimen plants. Also love the ash grey background colour on the cushions, it makes the colours sing. What a reaction to your comments about acrylic yarn! I’m happy that I’ve found a good make of acrylic yarn which is nice to use and has a HUGE colour range because not only is it very expensive to use pure wool for large crochet projects, it’s hard to find the colours you want. There is also the washing aspect which someone else mentioned. I agree, some cheap acrylics are horrible, stiff and squeaky and an effort to to use. It’s a huge issue about the whole production/dyeing implications of any yarn too. I expect we’ll just carry on doing what we have to do, hooking!
    Penny and Higgins xxx

  30. Pombagira says:

    gosh, here i was looking for how to make a tea cozy, cause i have just learned to crochet.. and lo there was clear instructions with awsoeme pictures, all made from wellington New Zealand, which is coincidently where i live to.. yay for the awsometastic welly people..


    also kinda makes me wonder if you made any of the tea cozy’s at Sweet Mothers Kitchen? *ponders this*


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