A couple months ago I received an email telling me my Stars and Stares Eye Pillow pattern had been accepted to Knitty. I was thrilled! I love these eye pillows and they were fun to knit.
The eyes on black and white one look like women's eyes, while those on the other pillow have a slightly anime feel to them. I don't know which I like more: the muted look of the variegated hand painted yarn, or the stark contrast of the black and white. Each has its own appeal.
One thing I like about Knitty's process is that they allow you to look over the final tech-edited version before publication. This was especially good in my case because my pattern contains several charts.
Knitty has a chart editing program they use. They don't require designers to submit charts created with that program, but every accepted chart has to be entered in that program by hand. Stitch by stitch.
Most of my charts were relatively large with no repeating patterns. Tech editor Kate Atherley did heroic work on them, but there were a few mistakes the first time around. I was happy to have the chance to check them before they went live. They are now error-free!
Stars and Stares uses some interesting techniques: Judy's Magic Cast On, Grafting, Catching Strands, and Weaving in Ends from the Right Side. An eye pillow is a small project and reasonably quick knit. Why don't you give it a try?
One knitter asked me why I chose to use such a firm gauge for my Stars and Stares Eye Pillow instead of knitting just a pillow cover. The truth is, I initially conceived it as a pillow cover but soon realized that it could be the entire pillow. Neither of mine has leaked a single rice grain, and I use them all the time. The firm gauge did not hurt my hands, but then my hands are used to that kind of thing.
While I was developing the pattern I discovered that the foot of a large adult sock, such as a man's tube sock, is the right size for an eye pillow. If I had sewn a pillow to go inside Stars and Stares, I would have cut the foot off one of my husband's old socks, filled it, and sewn up the cut side (after darning any holes in the foot!).
Maybe I'll knit a third eye pillow using this method. I might even put a strap on it for my husband to use. He finds my pillows soothing, but he doesn't like having to balance them on his face!
My Stars and Stares Eye Pillow appeared in this most recent Knitty. I promised a post about fillings and such, so here it is!
Eye pillows can be filled with various stuffings. Each has advantages.
Rice is inexpensive, odorless, and retains heat well. However, because of its shape, it may poke through the pillow. This isn't a problem with the Stars and Stares pillow, because of the thickness of the case.
Flax Seed is flat and won't poke through the pillow like rice might. When microwaved, it produces a mild scent which I find rather pleasant, though not everyone agrees.
Lentils are another smooth choice, smaller and lighter than other legumes.
Buckwheat hulls are widely used for full-sized pillows. They are very supportive and would be good stuffing for an ergonomic wrist rest to use with your computer keyboard. When settling into position they make a rustling sound similar to the ocean.
For ideas about scented pillows, Aromatherapy.com is an excellent resource. Visit "Mood Blends" for ideas for combinations that are said to produce certain results. Just be sure to cross-check any essential oils you plan to use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a condition such as epilepsy or high blood pressure.
I have only used whole herbs and spices and tea blends, not essential oils. I have seen recommendations for anywhere from 3 - 4 to 15 - 20 drops essential oil in a pillow the size of Stars and Stares.
If you want to use your pillow in your yarn stash as a sachet, fill it with moth repellents such as lavender, cedar, peppermint, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, and eucalyptus. Silverfish are said to keep away from citrus, bay leaves, sage, lavender oil, cedar shavings, and whole cloves (not ground!).
For use in an eye pillow, you may want to grind your herbs and spices or teas. Put small amounts in a resealable paper tea bag or two and insert into your pillow.
More pictures in the next post!
Being both a knitter and a violinist, I need to take good care of my hands. I'd like to share five really great hand stretches with you, and a bonus forearm stretch. I use these all the time. They're excellent warm-ups before knitting or fiddling, but they're also good for when I find myself waiting around with nothing else to occupy my hands.
1. Hand Massage: With your left thumb, massage your right palm. Massage the back of your right hand with your left fingers. Do this for one minute, then switch hands and repeat.
2. Clench and Fan: Clench your hand into a tight fist and hold for five seconds. Release smoothly, extending your thumb and fingers into a fully stretched position and hold for five seconds. Repeat five times for each hand.
3. Thumb Stretch: With your left hand, gently pull your right thumb away from the hand and down toward the forearm. Hold for five seconds. You should feel the stretch in the base of your thumb, palm side. Repeat for your left thumb. Five repetitions, alternate thumbs.
4. Wrist Stretch: Hold the right hand in front of the body, palm facing out, fingertips up, fingers together. With the left hand, grasp the right hand's outstretched fingers and gently pull the fingers back toward the body. Hold for five seconds. You should feel the stretch in the wrist area. Repeat for the left wrist. Five repetitions, alternative wrists.
5. Wrist Circles: Hold both arms in front of your body with your elbows held at a comfortable angle. Gently move your hands in circles, rotating your wrists. Circle both hands toward your body and then away, or circle both hands clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Do five repetitions in each direction.
6. Forearm Stretch: This isn't really a hand stretch, but it's an important one for both knitters and musicians. Put your hands together, palms flat against each other, elbows bent, fingers pointing downward. Press up until you feel a good stretch in the inside of your forearm. Hold for five seconds. Move your hands so the fingers point upward, and press down until you feel the stretch. Hold for five seconds. Do five repetitions of this complete exercise (pressing up and then down).
In my last post I demonstrated how to catch floats in stranded colorwork. Here are the Right Sides of the swatches:
And these are the Wrong Sides. It's easiest to see the strand catching at the tops of the swatches. The little Contrasting Color bumps across the tops of the backs don't have corresponding stitches on the front. That's where I caught the floats to reduce their length.
I love stranded colorwork, and I hope you will, too!
Sometimes you knit a project and there's no Wrong Side showing. I'm not talking about reversible projects where there is no "wrong side." I mean projects like Double Knitting projects and I-Cord where the Wrong Side is inaccessible.
This is a wonderful feature . . . except when it comes time to weave in the ends!
Here's the way I tackle that problem:
1. Thread a tapestry needle with the yarn tail.
2. Insert needle into knitting and bring from the Wrong Side through the middle of a stitch to the Right Side (photo a).
3. Take needle over the bar of that same stitch, up behind work to the right, and through the middle of the stitch two rows up and one column to the right (photo b).
4. Repeat Step 3 four or five times.
5. Take needle over bar of stitch, behind work, and through middle of next stitch to the right (photo c).
6. Turn work upside down and take needle over bar of same stitch (above the needle), up behind work to the left, and through middle of stitch two rows up and one column to the left, making sure to come up through the middle of the upside-down stitch: ^ on knit side, u on purl side (photo d).
7. Repeat Step 6 two or three times.
8. Take needle over bar of stitch and a long way behind work, coming up to the Right Side without piercing the knitting (photo e).
9. Pull tail firmly so knitting gathers slightly and cut tail close to work. Adjust work so tail doesn't show.
It's pretty easy once you understand the method---and it looks just as good as if you did it the usual way!
Here's a tutorial for grafting live stitches to each other using a yarn needle. I hope you find it useful! Note: I say in the video to use a yarn tail twice as long as the seam, but you really need a little more than that. Try three times as long, just to be safe.
This is my first video with the Nikon D5100. I had to put it on manual focus so it didn't keep zooming in and out---as a result, the picture blurs when I move my hands closer to the camera. Still, it's better than my previous video! More soon.
Hi! I'm Kangath---
knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
Click here to join the Kangath Knits email list
for insider updates and special deals.
Ruth Roland is a top Baton Rouge, LA music lesson instructor on TryMusicLessons.com!
Amy Herzog Designs
Knit and Tonic
The Sexy Knitter
Sheep to Shawl
Trappings and Trinkets
Two Sides of the Same Stitch