2016 Update: I’ve since frogged this project as the yarn choice didn’t hold up well. Read more here.
Looks pretty cozy, right? I recently swiped a couple of skeins of chunky yarn from the sample closet at work (thanks, Kollabora!) with the intention of making a cushion cover. I was thinking, oversized, simple, monochrome, and textured. I thought Tunisian crochet would give me the density/texture I was looking for, so, here we are!
I love the look and feel of the basic Tunisian crochet stitch, and I thought it would lend itself well to this kind of project. I can see it used on a much larger scale as well, like a floor pillow or crochet beanbag chair…I’ve documented my process incase anyone is interested. It’s a very simple project, I finished it in one day while sick in bed watching a Gossip Girl season 1 marathon (judge me as you see fit).
I find Tunisian crochet easy and fun to do, I’d argue it’s easier to learn than knitting. So if your new to this, don’t let it throw you! Give it a try. The only negative thing I’ve noticed is it’s hard to buy Tunisian crochet hooks in yarn stores, at least in Toronto.
- 3 skeins Wool And The Gang’s Crazy Sexy Wool in Tweed Grey
- Size P (11.5mm) Tunisian crochet hook (I used this ChiaoGoo one)
- 22 x 15-inch feather pillow insert*
7 stitches in 4 inches
Roughly 22 x 15 inches
- Establish gauge given selected yarn and needle size.
- Chain (cast on) stitches according to gauge and pillow dimensions.
- Continue in basic Tunisian crochet stitch until piece wraps around the pillow.
- Cast/finish off.
- Seam both sides.
- Insert pillow form.
- Seam opening.
I referenced this awesome tutorial by Crocheting the Day Away to learn how to cast on and do basic Tunisian crochet stitch.
*My insert was originally larger (26 x 16 inches I think) and I made it smaller by making a slit, removing some feathers and seaming it closed again. My insert still ended up being slightly too large/overstuffed for the pillow, so some of the white insert shows through one of the side seams when someones sitting on it and it’s under stress.
What I Wish I Knew Before Starting:
When calculating gauge and yarn needs, remember Tunisian crochet requires more yarn than knitting! I had 3 skeins of chunky yarn thinking that would be plenty for a 20 inch x 20 inch pillow. If I were knitting it, yes. Tunisian crochet, no. At least not using the basic stitch which is quite dense.I originally intended for this to be a square pillow, but once I got a few inches in I realized I would not have enough to continue on for 40 inches to wrap around a square pillow. One skein got me about 9 inches in, so roughly a 20 inch x 9 inch rectangle. I then decided to do a rectangular pillow instead and found the pillow form in my stash closest to the dimensions of the rectangle I knew I could crochet. My pillow form was too large so I did my best to resize it (see Notes* above). I didn’t do a bang up job of this as the pillow form was still too large and stretched the crochet a bit too much. That’s how my 20 inch x 28 inch (ish) crochet rectangle stretched to a 22 x 15 inch (ish) pillow. I’m still happy with it, it’s not a big enough mistake that I can be bothered to go back a fix it, but definitely worth noting for future makes.
What I’d Change Next Time:
Aside from the above, I’m not in love with this yarn so I’d choose something different. It has very little twist so it’s almost like knitting with rovings. It’s spun from fairly short staple fibres which shed easily. This means as I crocheted it left a layer of grey fibre on my bed and that it’s likely to shed easily going forward. It’s not bad yarn, I just get the feeling it’s not long wearing and so it’s not worth to price to me. I know this is a bit vague, but you know when you make something and you just feel the materials integrity and you’re confident about how it will wear? I don’t have that here, and I want a pillow like this to withstand years of use. I might be wrong, that’s the feeling so far though. Like I said I got this yarn as a sample and I’m glad I gave it a whirl, but I probably wouldn’t spend my own money on it. Not for this purpose at least.
Continue reading for a detailed photo tutorial…
1. Establish Your Gauge. Play around with your yarn and needles to see what works for what you have. I have 7 stitches per inch (counting the spaces between bars). The easiest way I’ve found to count how many stitches I have is to count the spaces between bars, better illustrated in this picture. (I think that’s that correct way to do it?!)
2. Chain (like cast on). Use your gauge to determine how many stitches to chain for your desired pillow size. I cast on assuming a 20 inch pillow, with a gauge of 7 stitches in 4 inches. I cast on 36 stitches. I got that number by taking 20 inches divided by 4 inches = 5, and 5 times 7 stitches = 35. Rounded up to 36 for breathing room.
3. Start foundation row (forward pass). Please reference wonderfully detailed Crocheting the Day Away tutorial to see how to do forward pass and the next row, the return pass. I always have to remember you insert your hook into the second chain (see arrow). Tunisian crochet is a really neat structure and fun to work. I find it relaxing in a way different from knitting. When you work left to right across you pick up stitches on your hook, and you drop them when you return right to left.
4. Continue in basic stitch until pieces measures length necessary to wrap around your pillow.
5. Cast/finish off your work. See Crocheting the Day Away tutorial here. Piece should be able to wrap around your pillow. I was amazed at how dense it was!
6. Seam first side. Line up edges. I started at the open side and worked towards to fold to ensure even edges.I’m frankly not sure how you’re ‘supposed’ to seam Tunisian crochet, I used this basic back and forth (mattress stitch?) making sure to catch under both sides of the loop. This is what the first side seam looks like (see line of stitches where my thumb is).
7. Seam second side. Same method, except the edges on this side only had one loop. See the difference? The first side my needle goes under FOUR loops, this side it goes under TWO. This second side looks different when seamed. This is also the side that gapes a bit and lets the white pillow form show through when someone’s sitting on it. If the pillow wasn’t overstuffed that likely wouldn’t be an issue?
8. Turn inside out and weave in loose ends. There was no fancy method to this, just to make sure I couldn’t see it from the outside. This is what the reverse side looks like. Beautiful! I almost used it as the outside of the pillow cover but it’s not as soft/smooth so I stuck with the ‘right side’.
9. Insert pillow form.
10. Seam opening. Using the same method, seam the opening across the length of the pillow. And that’s it! Really was the perfect, mindless, Netflix marathon, sick day, in bed project. Note how the two side seams look different. You can see how fuzzy this yarn is, for better or for worse. I’m a little worried about how it will look after a few years of use, but, fingers crossed!