Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Making of a Pillow...

I can't remember who I've told what, so I'll start from the beginning.

Unfortunately, our LYS owner (LYS = Local Yarn Store for the un-knitterly crowd) was diagnosed with a melanoma that had spread. She had originally sought treatment for what she was told was a sinus infection.

The sinus infection got so bad that she was losing feeling on her left side...never a good sign! So they rushed her to the ER with "the worst headache ever" and they found 2 brain tumors, plus a spot on her lung (she's a smoker).

The brain tumors were taken out and they're not really worrying about the spot on the lung now, because there were actually FOUR brain tumors, but two were quite small and they thought they could zap them with radiation.

That has not turned out to be the case. Soooooooooooo. To help her out, those of us in the LYS community at her shop have all been pitching in to do what we can. Some are working in the shop; others come in to provide a bathroom break for those manning the register, or to sit with folks and help newbies, etc.

And to honor our friend, we had the great idea to make a lap robe for her. She didn't want a full afghan. There were already 12 knitters for the squares, taken from a "Great American Afghan" book (I can't cite the source because I don't have the book). Anyway, some of us thought we'd make pillows. Just little 12" squares for her to use at chemo or at home when her neck ached or she needed back support.

Eggplant Cascade
We are all using Cascade 22o superwash wool. Here's what I started:

As you can see, it's 2 balls. The actual squares take 1 ball, but I figured for a pillow, you do need 2 sides! I'd rather have a knitted pillow than put a knitted piece in a fabric frame. My sewing skills aren't that fantastic.

We all mostly chose different colors and I think it'll be stunning when it's done. If I can get a picture of it, I'll post it later on.

My pillow is a simple one. Double moss stitch, one of my favorite 'basic' stitches because it's got lots of texture, makes an interesting swath of stitching and looks much more complex than it really is! It's a 4-row repeat and I got the pillow finished in about a month, which may be long, but hey - I work for a living!!

Double Moss Stitch
I started it on the semi-circular needles, but quickly switched to circulars, just to keep control of it. If you click on the picture, you can see that the stitches look as if they're going diagonally, and almost like mini-cables.

This was a very fast pattern, and I really like the eggplant color. She likes earthy tones, so this will fit right in.

I made an "envelope" - I decided at the point pictured here that I wasn't willing to struggle with sewing all 4 sides together, or having to figure out how to crochet it all. It blocked out beautifully and I did a 27" long piece of fabric.

I bought a 12" square pillow form from the local craft store; it's washable if needed, and of course the yarn is as well. I wrapped it with a 4 or 5" flap on it and then used a mattress stitch to close it.

Mattress Stitch to sew up sides
Not the knitting mattress stitch; the crewel work mattress stitch, otherwise known as a buttonhole stitch if you've ever done hand-sewn buttonholes. I have. Only because I couldn't ever figure out the buttonhole attachment on my sewing machine.

The mattress stitch in crewel and hand sewing resembles a backward "L" and you come up at the bottom, hold onto the thread, then stick the needle in at the top and catch the bottom of the L on the way down. It's complex - Google it, but I can tell you that once you get it, you really get a rhythym going and it's quite easy to master.

Clicking on the top picture will give you a good idea of the color of the yarn, too. I think that the pictures were a little dark, but that was depending on where I took them.

I just fluffed it up and didn't bother stitching down the flap - it's long enough and it won't come apart. Here's the completed pillow:   As you can see, the pillow form showed through a bit, but when you're looking at it without a flash attachment, it looks just fine.

If I wanted to be fancy, I could've made a pillow form cover out of purple fabric and THEN put the envelope over it. But that's a little more than I wanted to do. Besides, we want to give her the ensemble this week, and we all needed to get our act together!

Here's a final shot of the double moss stitch up close. If you have a chance, add this stitch to your arsenal. It's lovely and easy. And it's something that you can use for cuffs, a sweater band, a scarf -- just a great and great-looking utility stitch that can be used in many ways.

One thing I've learned from this: If you have someone who maybe doesn't want or need a shawl, a pillow is a great idea. Whether for someone seriously ill who may be having treatment or maybe even as a baby gift for a nursing mom: it's an idea somewhat out of the box, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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