Independence Pillow – Part 4

All of the pieces to our pillow are complete and it is time to assemble them into a stylish accessory.  I believe that finishing is the most important step in creating beautiful garments.  Taking the time to seam carefully allows your expert knitting to remain the focus.  Seaming is not an exact science and it requires a bit of patience.  Remember that you are handcrafting!  Each stitch was executed by human hands and you can not expect to stitch together seams as quickly as a sewing machine.  The more I knit, the more I enjoy the finishing process for its quiet mechanics.  It’s just me, my yarn and a tapestry needle working in harmony to join the fruits of my labor.

The Buttonhole Band and Button Band will be joined to the top and bottom of the Pillow Front respectively.  This horizontal seam may be executed in many ways.  The simplest horizontal seam is sewn using the Overcast Stitch, often known as the whip stitch.  The Overcast Stitch makes for a flat-lying seam, but the seaming yarn is quite visible against a stockinette background.  I chose the Overcast Stitch for my Building Blocks book because a flat, reversible seam is perfect for an afghan and also because the seaming yarn was hidden nicely among the seed stitch.  In Independence Pillow, we are primarily joining knit stitches together and I find that the Invisible Horizontal Seam is a superior choice in this situation.  In this technique, the seaming yarn adds a nice row of knit stitches that flow between the two pieces as it connects them.  The stitch creates a firm ridge on the wrong side making it an ideal choice for shoulder seams or anywhere a sturdy seam is required.  I encourage you to use the Invisible Horizontal Seam and bring your finishing skills to the next level.

As you prepare to work the Invisible Horizontal Seams in this project, take note that the Front has more stitches across than the ribbing pieces of the Back.  More stitches were necessary on the Front to compensate for the cables.  These extra stitches are eased into the horizontal seam with an almost undetectable pattern interruption.  I demonstrate this technique near the end of the Invisible Horizontal Seam video.

Once the horizontal seams are complete, the vertical seams are sewn using the Mattress Stitch.  This is probably the most widely used stitch in finishing and I think you will be surprised how easy it is to create very professional results.  Because the Buttonhole flap overlaps the Button Band, it is necessary to “catch” the Button Band underneath with the seaming yarn as you work the Mattress Stitch in this area.  Don’t fret over how you catch the Button Band because this will be hidden inside the pillow.

The last bit of work to do is the button placement.  Insert the pillow form into the seamed work and mark the location for each button on the Button Band.  You may use matching sewing thread or leftover yarn to attach the buttons.  If you use yarn, the knots have a tendency to stretch and untie themselves over time.  To guard against this, use a tiny dab of “no fray” liquid (available in sewing and craft stores) on the yarn knots for each button on the wrong side of your Button Band.

I hope you enjoyed our summer KAL!  I had a wonderful time knitting with all of you.  Please remember to enter the prize drawing at to reward yourself for a job well done.  The entries provide Skacel with participation numbers that encourage more KALs.

Join me in October for our next KAL that once again features Simpliworsted yarn.  We will be knitting a great-looking cowl that features fun stitches, slick techniques, helpful videos and more prizes!

Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the finished Independence Pillow.

Part Four

Click here to download printable version


Block pieces if desired.  See Blocking Video

With right sides facing, pin bind off edge of Buttonhole Band to top edge of Pillow Front.  (See below.)  Thread yarn onto a blunt-tipped tapestry needle.  Sew pieces together using the Invisible Horizontal Seam easing in the extra Pillow Front stitches..  See Invisible Horizontal Seam Video  

Sew bind off edge of Button Band to bottom edge of Pillow Front as above.  (See below.)

Here is a close-up photo of the finished horizontal seam:

Fold the Button Band at horizontal seam with wrong sides together. (See below.)

Fold the Buttonhole Band to overlap on top of the Button Band.  Pin sides together through all thicknesses.  Using Mattress Stitch, close side seams catching overlapped Button Band.  See Mattress Stitch Video

Insert pillow form and sew buttons into place on Button Band.


Real beauty sleep is laying your head on a hand knit pillow!

(c)2012 Michelle Hunter


Independence Pillow – Part 3

I hope you are as big of a fan of these buttonholes as I am!  I love the stability they provide to the knitted piece and their neat appearance nestled so handsomely in the ribs of our pillow back.  You can use this buttonhole over any number of stitches in your future projects.

Today’s clue is for the second piece of our pillow back, the Button Band.  The Button Band is knit in a rib to match the Buttonhole Band.  The instructions call for the Button Band to be knit to a length of 7 1/2″ which is the same length as the Buttonhole Band.  Every pillow form has a different level of filling, or “plumpness”.  Before binding off, pin the Buttonhole Band and Button Band to the back of the pillow form to ensure that they overlap each other adequately. The overlap, approximately 1-2”, should be large enough to accommodate your chosen buttons.  If needed, adjust the Button Band length to cover the pillow form.

Part Three

Click here to download printable version

Button Band

Cast on 51 stitches using Long Tail cast on.

Rib Pattern

Row 1. (RS)  K3, *p1, k3; repeat from * to end.

Row 2.  P3, *k1, p3; repeat from * to end.

Work above 2 rows until piece measures 7 ½” or desired length.

Bind off.

See you next week for the seaming.  Happy knitting!

Independence Pillow – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed the cable pattern covering our Pillow Front.  Whether you chose to use a cable needle or not, this classic design is a perfect accent in any home decor.

Part Two brings us to the Buttonhole Band that will become a part of the back of the pillow.  Having a pillow that closes with buttons allows you to easily remove the pillow form to launder the knitted cover.  This design also allows us to focus on buttonhole construction.  There are a wide variety of buttonhole techniques available to knitters.  Many of us are familiar with the simple buttonhole that is comprised of a yarn over followed by a k2tog.  This style works in many situations but it produces a loose and somewhat untidy buttonhole.  For a sturdy horizontal buttonhole, I prefer the one row horizontal buttonhole.  This buttonhole retains its shape after repeated uses and has a very tidy appearance.  These properties make it perfect for use in garments where the buttonholes are located at a stress point in the knitted piece.  Watch my Buttonhole Video to try your hand at this fundamental skill.

The buttonholes are situated in a handsome rib.  The rib will stretch to hug the pillow form and act as a nice complement to the cabled front.  The Buttonhole Band is cast on with only 51 stitches compared to the Front’s 62 stitches.  The Front required more stitches due to the dense cable work.

Enjoy the buttonholes!

Buttonhole – Sl 1 wyif, (sl 1 wyib, psso) 3 times, return the last bind off stitch to left hand needle, turn.  Using Cable Cast On, cast on 4 stitches, turn.  Sl 1 wyib from left hand needle, pass last cast on stitch over this stitch and off the needle. See Buttonhole Video

psso  – pass slip stitch over.  See PSSO Video

sl – slip.  See Slip Stitch Video

wyib – with yarn in back.

wyif – with yarn in front.


Part Two

Click here to download printable version

Buttonhole Band

Cast on 51 stitches using Long Tail cast on.

Rib Pattern

Row 1. (RS)  K3, *p1, k3; repeat from * to end.

Row 2.  P3, *k1, p3; repeat from * to end.

Work above rib pattern for 6 rows.


Buttonhole Row (worked once in place of Row 1):

With right side facing, (k3,p1) 3 times, buttonhole, (k3, p1) 2 times, buttonhole, (k3, p1) 2 times, buttonhole, (k3, p1) 2 times, k3.

Continue in established rib until piece measures 7 ½”.

Bind off.

Happy knitting!

Independence Pillow – Part 1

I’m delighted to return with the summer edition of the Progressive Needles Knit Along debuting our new project, Independence Pillow.  As with all of the KALs, we will combine knitting education and fun with prizes generously supplied by our sponsor, Skacel.  Take a break from the heat and knit this great looking pillow that is chock full of essential knitting techniques.

We begin Independence Pillow with the pillow front.  I have chosen a cable design to grace the front of the pillow.  Cables are classic works of knitting wonder that deceive the uninitiated with their simple construction.  Slip a few stitches onto a cable needle and hold them to the front or the back of the work – voila, cable magic!  What could be simpler?

Actually, cables CAN be made simpler by eliminating the need for the cable needle.  Having been stranded numerous times without a cable needle, I have resorted to using paper clips, bobby pins, toothpicks or whatever I could get my hands on to continue cabling.  It just made sense to explore cabling without a cable needle.  Once I got over the initial fear of live stitches dangling from my work, I was thrilled with the speed I gained.  I ended my dependence on the cable needle and the “Independence” Pillow was born!  I encourage you to watch my video, Cables without a Cable Needle, to explore this slick technique.  First time cablers may benefit from the security of a cable needle which is demonstrated in the Cables video.  Whether you choose to use a cable needle or not, the beautiful outcome is the same.

I have a few tips to share before the knitting begins.  Whenever I cast on for a project that later requires seaming, I leave a long tail at both my cast on and bind off edge.  I use these tails at the conclusion of the project to seam the work.  This trick makes for one less end to weave and provides a sturdier seam.  I recommend leaving the tail 3 times the finished seam length to safely allow enough yarn for the seaming.  In this project, leaving a 36″ tail is more than enough yarn for our future seam.

As always, be sure to check your gauge.  The pillow is knit with a smaller needle than recommended by the yarn to provide a dense fabric that will fit snugly over the pillow form.

Click here for a list of KAL retail suppliers.

  • 2 skeins Simpliworsted, 55% Merino Superwash/28% Acrylic/17% Nylon, 100g/140 yards each
  • US #8 (5mm) or size necessary to achieve desired gauge
  • Cable needle
  • 12” square pillow form
  • 3 buttons, approximately 1”


4.5 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette.

Finished knitted measurements = 11 ½” x 11 ½”.

C4B – slip next 2 stitches onto cable needle and hold in back of work, knit next 2 stitches from left hand needle, then knit 2 stitches from cable needle.  See Cables Video

C4F – slip next 2 stitches onto cable needle and hold in front of work, knit next 2 stitches from left hand needle, then knit 2 stitches from cable needle. See Cables Video

Click here to download printable version

To increase speed, try working the cables below without a cable needle.  See Cables Without a Cable Needle Video


Cast on 62 stitches using Long Tail cast on.  See Long Tail Cast On Video

Row 1. (RS)  Knit.

Row 2.  Purl.

Row 3.  K1, *k2, C4B; repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 4.  Purl.

Row 5.  Knit.

Row 6.  Purl.

Row 7.  K1, *C4F, k2; repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 8.  Purl.


Work above rows 9 times or until Front measures approximately 11 ½” from cast on edge.

Bind off.

Happy knitting!

©2012 Michelle Hunter



July KAL

Join me July 5th for the next installment of the Progressive Needles KAL sponsored by Skacel Collection!

Independence Pillow

  • Learn to cable without a cable needle
  • Create better buttonholes
  • Increase your finishing skills

As always, the emphasis is on EDUCATION and FUN!

All skills supported with FREE online video lessons.

Mystery knit begins July 5th at  Clues released on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Thursdays of July.

Prizes generously furnished by Skacel.  No registration required.  It’s FREE!


Why a Pillow?

Pillows make for perfect summer knitting!  These quick to knit home accessories are just the right size for your travel knitting.  My knitting is the first thing that I pack for any trip and this project will fit easily into any suitcase.

Pillows also provide a wonderful opportunity to explore new techniques and yarns within a small project.

Knitted pillows are all the rage in home decor magazines.  Why buy one when you can knit a lovely one yourself!


KAL Supply List – Click here for a list of retail suppliers

  • 2 skeins Simpliworsted, 100g/140 yards each
  • US #8  (5mm) needles or size necessary to achieve gauge
  • 12″ square pillow form
  • 3 buttons, approximately 1″

Gauge:  4.5 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette