Sweet Home Sweet Pillow
Not too long ago I was deep in the thicket of the internet, in search of I-don’t-remember-what, when I came across the fascinating idea of cross stitching on crocheted fabric. I became totally motivated by the idea. I’ve probably seen too many episodes of Little House on the Prairie, but undeniably, the self-sufficiency of this project deeply appealed to me.
Maybe I’m not quite up to growing a field of flax to harvest, comb, bat, and spin into linen, but I could take a small step toward satisfying my wanna-be pioneer by creating my own cross stitch canvas. Never mind that I didn’t know how to cross stitch. Just another task in the life of a frontiers woman!
It was Page’s daughter, Coco, who unwittingly gave us the perfect phrase to adorn this pillow. She’s six now, but at the ripe age of 4, she would arrive home to her front door, and with an exhausted sigh, pronounce, “Ah, sweet, home, sweet…”. Coco’s malapropism is especially wonderful because it turns on its head a phrase that is at the very heart of traditional needlecraft. And so “Home Sweet Home” became “Sweet Home Sweet” and a pillow was born!
I was so devoted to the idea of this pillow that I was very careful to choose materials that would be true to my mission of simple, rugged beauty. And, so, I called in the big guns: Louet’s classically beautiful Euroflax Linen for the crochet, Koigu’s KPM Needlepoint Yarn for the cross stitch, and Mary Flanagan’s sumptuous hand dyed Wool Felt for the backing. The result is a pillow with a whole lot of homespun charm, just right for life on the frontier! Okay… maybe just life in Brooklyn…
- 2 skeins of Louet’s Euroflax Originals, 100% Linen. This color is “Natural”.
- Koigu’s KPM Needlepoint Yarn, 100% Merino Wool. I used 3 skeins: 2 of color #2229 and 1 of #2227. If you only want to use one color for your cross stitching or if you want to use two colors more equally than I did, you’ll only need 2 skeins.
- A size B crochet hook
- 2 pieces of Mary Flanagan’s Felted Wool, 100% Wool. This color is “Smokey Joe”.
- A Bamboo Pillow Form, 14 x 14 inches.
- Cotton Sewing Thread in a neutral color, such as Gutermann’s #3260
6 single crochets = 1 inch
8 rows of single crochet = 1 inch
14 inches x 14 inches
With the Euroflax Linen, chain 86 stitches.
Inserting the hook into 2nd chain from hook, make 1 sc into next 85 chain stitches.
*Turn the work.
Chain 1, make 1 sc into next 85 stitches.
Repeat from * until piece measures 10 1/2 inches from the beginning row.
Turn the work, ch 1, and make 1 sc into next 62 stitches. Place a removable marker (or safety pin or scrap of yarn) on the leg of the 62nd stitch.
Make 1 sc into each stitch to the end of the row.
Continue to make 85 sc into each row until piece measures 14 inches from the beginning.
Cut the yarn and pull the tail through the last stitch. Weave in the ends.
The crocheted fabric forms the grid on which you will cross stitch. The corners of each “square” (rectangle, actually!) are located on either side of a single crochet, horizontally, and over two rows of single crochet, vertically. In this photo, the red dots illustrate the corners in the grid where you could work your cross stitches.
Cross Stitch Basics
The basic “x” of the cross stitch is made by first bringing your needle up from the back of the work to the front, leaving a 2 or 3 inch tail in the back of the work. (You will work the first several stitches over the tail, checking it often so that you won’t have to weave it in at the end! You will have to weave in the end tail by stitching it neatly under a few strands.)
Next, insert the needle into the hole that is diagonal from the starting hole, bringing your needle to the back of the work.
Now bring your needle to the front again through the hole below (or above) the last hole.
Finally, return your needle to the back of the work through the hole diagonal from the last hole and next to the second hole.
Don’t pull the thread too tight or leave it too loose. Just stitch with a nice, relaxed hand so your stitches don’t distort the fabric and do lie flat.
You can start the “x” in any corner. What’s important is that you are consistent. In other words, the first leg of the “x” must either always slant this way, ” / ” or this way, ” “. And the second leg must always slant the other way.
Although some people work the complete “x”s as they go, others work all the first legs in a row and then return back crossing with the second legs. Most people end up using a combination of methods!
Part of the fun of cross stitch is to find your own most efficient course. There is no one right way! For this project, I tended to work the first leg of the “x”s across the top row of a letter, then worked back across the row completing the “x”s. Then I moved down a row and did the same thing. For example, here is how I started the “S”:
A few final notes: Avoid stranding your yarn across too far an expanse in the back. I would say the maximum is about 3 or 4 stitches. If you need to go farther, just cut the yarn, weave in its tail and start with a new piece of yarn.
Also, I used mostly the #2229 yarn, but occasionally switched to the #2227. I did this as a nod to the tradition of beginning cross stitch samplers where matching yarns wasn’t as important as learning the technique. Feel free to do the same, to take the gesture a step further or to stick with one color. Whatever you decide, have fun!
To begin this cross stitch pattern, bring your yarn up at the marker you left in the crocheted fabric. Work the letters by following this chart, starting with the orange square of the “S”. Each square in the chart represents a complete “x”.
And here is the completed cross stitch!
Cut each felt piece into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Square the fabric to one of the 14-inch sides, cutting the 3 other sides but leaving one 14-inch side uncut.
Lay the crocheted fabric right side up, and put one of the rectangles on top of it. Arrange the felt so that the cut sides are along the edges of the pillow and the uncut 14-inch side is in the middle.
Lay the second rectangle on top of the first so that they overlap each other. Again, make sure the uncut edge is in the middle of the pillow.
Pin all of the edges together.
Sew the four sides of the pillowcase, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Turn the pillowcase inside out, and use a blunt tool, like the end of a pencil, to push the corners out.
Finally, stuff your beautiful case with the pillow form, fluff it up, step back, and admire!