I was the luckiest of ladies to be gifted with a former weavers gorgeous stash of wool recently. I’m talking huge cones of wool and bags and bags of beautiful rovings. Ya, the good stuff.
Since the cones of wool are ideal for weaving and too course for apparel (although I’ve toyed with the idea of a lined cape…) I wanted to try knitting a pillow cover with this large cone of greige wool. I did a handful of swatches using various needle sizes and stitches (moss stitch looked great!) but decided to go with simple stockinette stitch and try embroidering a design on it.
I’d never embroidered on knits before, so I thought this would be a good way to experiment before playing around with wearables. The design wasn’t planned and is one of those mistakes turned ‘I’ll pretend this is what I was going for all along‘, but I’m actually really happy with it.
Pillow form (mines 16″ wide x 12″ tall)
Wool for body
Wool for embroidery design
Knitting Needles (I used size 7mm for my wool)
Large tapestry needle
2016 Update: If you’re looking for a video tutorial of this project with downloadable PDF instructions, check out my Embroidered Knit Pillow class on Skillshare.
1/ Cast on enough stitches for the width of your pillow form. Do a swatch first to find your gauge (stitches per inch) of the wool/needles you’re working with and cast on accordingly. My gauge was 2.5 stitches per inch, so I cast on 40 stitches.
2/ Continue in stockinette stitch (alternate knit and purled rows) until piece wraps around your pillow. Since my pillow form was 12 inches tall, my finished piece was about 24 inches long.
3/ Seam the ends together using horizontal mattress stitch, taking care to line up your stitches so your corners will be even and clean later. I messed this up and ended up with one wonky corner.
4/ Seam one side of the pillow using vertical mattress stitch, again careful to match all stitches. Pin in a few places to help you stay even. You can seam the first side with the pillow form inside or not.
5/ If you haven’t inserted the pillow yet, do that now and seam the other side closed. I know this method isn’t ideal since you can’t remove the pillow form without undoing one side, but I wasn’t sure of another method that would be ascetically pleasing… suggestions?
6/ Finished! It was hard to keep the corners even, likely because I was seaming it with the pillow already inside, but if you’re very careful to line up all your stitches when seaming I think it would turn out well.
7/ Now for the fun part, pick a design! I decided I wanted something really minimal (call me boring), essentially just lines that ended up looking like trees. Before I started I marked out the spacing to ensure that the design would be centered.
8/ I used duplicate stitch to make a contrasting colour over the original stitch. Since the wool I used was much thinner, I stitched with three strands together. This still didn’t entirely cover the knit stitch underneath, so I decided to accept the imperfect look and start fading out the stitches on purpose. I started with three strands of wool, then cut to two strands and finally one near the top to finish the look.