Friday, August 24, 2007

Pillow talk

A while back I posted some pictures of some pillows I had made using Kaffe Fassett's "magic Ball" technique. To make a magic ball, collect a lot (at least 20) colours of yarns in some sort of related or gradually changing tones. Break off an arms-length of a couple of colours, tie them together at one end with 2-3" inch tails, and then add another length, and another, and so on.

The goal is to make a big ball of yarn in colours or tones that change gradually from one to another, and then back again, on and on through the whole ball. When knitting with this magic ball your colours will shade throughout your knitting without having to stop and decide which colour to use next (if this is confusing, see Kaffe's first book, Glorious Color. Examples of his style, and a description of this technique, are all there.)

At any rate, when I last made one of these magic balls I got carried away and ended up making almost 600 yards of blues, purples, and burgundies. Most of the yarns are hand-spun odds and ends, mostly from my early days of spinning when my technique was a little less refined, and I experimented a lot and had oodles of bits and pieces that wouldn't or couldn't be duplicated again. I also had some beautiful, almost-black dark brown llama yarn that was a recent gift. While I had made some pillows using the magic ball on a light mottled-colour background I wanted to see what the colours would look like on a solid, very dark ground. So it was time to make a new magic ball pillow.

I came up with a zig-zag design of three stitches in the magic ball yarn, and three stitches of the brown-black. The diagonals moved one stitch to the left every row for 7 rows, and then back again. I knitted my pillow in the round so that I could always work from the right-side rows. As can be seen from the inside view, all the knotted yarn ends just are left to dangle inside.

The pillow was designed to be 16" square; I provisionally cast on to start; once I got to about 10" up I put half of the stitches on a string to hold them, and provisionally cast on the same number right above to make an opening on the back, and then finished knitting the pillow body. I did a 3-needle bind off on the top and bottom edges to close each end, then picked up the held stitches and knitted an overlap on the top and the bottom of the back opening, with a small hem to finish each edge.

I washed the pillow and let it dry flat to block it, which evened out the knitting beautifully. To finish the whole thing off I knitted a striped, 5-stitch I-cord which was sewn on after completion, with an overhand knot in each corner.

Five vintage mother of pearl buttons and crocheted loops were added to the back flap. I added the pillow insert, which I had made form cotton batting and stuffed with a whole lot of yarn and spinning scraps (thanks to everyone who donated their yarn ends!) And now I have
one beautiful pillow, and enough of my magic ball and black-brown llama yarn to make another one to match!


VickeryKnits said...

Beautiful! Like all of your work! (and I can't believe you ripped out that sweater! You're so tough!)

hovercrafteel said...

Fantastic! I like how the striped border completes it.