Pillow Knit From Recycled Silk Saris with Free Pattern

Pillow knit from recyled silk saris

Garter stitched squares are knit on the bias and sewn together to create this pillow cover. This is a great project for the beginner who’s ready for something a bit more challenging than a scarf. You’ll practice increasing and decreasing. And there’s so much going on with the yarn that your stitches don’t have to be perfectly even, and assembly is a breeze. No neat sewing required!

18” Square

700 g. Recycled Silk yarn
18” pillow form
1 pair US 7 (4.5mm) needles

16 sts and 14 rows to 4”/10cm

The recycled silk yarn is uneven in both size and color throughout the balls. I prefer to buy skeins (instead of balls) so that I can see the colors and control how the color plays out. If you can’t find skeins, you can either unwind the balls, or, just let the color come naturally and be surprised!

Cast on 3 stitches.

Row 1 (Increase Row): Knit into front and back of first stitch. Knit to last stitch. Knit into front and back of last stitch.

Before turning work, place a safety pin on the first stitch of this row. The safety pin is placed so that you know when to increase. Whenever the pin is on the right-hand side of your work, you increase at each end.

Row 2: Knit across row

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 47 st on the needle (edges should measure 9”.)

Knit across row.

Decrease Row 1: K2tog, k to last 2 st, k2tog.

Decrease Row 2:Knit across row.

Repeat these tow rows until 3 st remain. Pull yarn through 3 stitches and knot.

Make a total of 8 squares.

Sew together 4 squares for front, and 4 for back.

Block to measurements.

Sew three sides together. Insert pillow, sew remaining side.

I designed this project after becoming fascinated by the yarn, sold by Himalaya Yarn Company. It is a a multi-colored, multi-textured, 100% silk yarn composed of 100% recycled, or more accurately, upcycled, silk fibers from the industrial weaving mills of India. The fibers are handspun in Nepal, supporting a cottage industry of spinners with each one working independently. Therefore, no two skeins are alike and the random color combinations vary widely.

Himalaya Yarn recommends you alternate skeins throughout your multi-skein projects in order to achieve an even effect. it's great fun to knit with as you're always wanting to see what comes next. The striping that occurs from using two skeins alternately is sometimes obvious, but mostly not.
To make the yarn silk scraps are swept up off the floor at the end of the day in the sari mills in South Asia. (So although it's called recycled, it's made from scraps from new saris, not used or old saris that have been cut up.) The yarn is then hand-spun using a drop spindle or wheel. The spinning is often an outdoor village occupation, so there may be bits of leaf or straw caught up in the yarn. The twist is not as even as on yarn that has been mass produced in factories, but that only adds to the charm of your finished item. (I find I have to sometimes stop knitting and let the yarn dangle to untwist.) Making this yarn enables the women to earn much needed income from their cottage industry, and to earn a fair wage.

A number of companies are retailing the yarn in the US now. I've tried quite a few and found varying quality levels. I was excited to see some on ebay selling for about $2.50 a skein, but the quality was awful! The yarn was hard and board like when knitted up and came untwisted and broke apart as I was knitting. The best I've found is from Himalaya Yarn. Although it's more expensive, the quality is so much better that I think it justifies the added expense. I hate to spend all the time it takes to knit something and find that I hate the finished product.

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Postcards from September 2011

Postcards that I've made using the free template I created, which you can view and download for your own use here.
First Postcard


Creating Your Own Postcard

Today I decided to make some postcards to send out, similar in feel to the ATC's I've been making. I thought I'd easily find a template for the back of the postcard. Very wrong assumption. I've just spent a good half hour searching online, using lots of different search terms for an easy postcard template that I could print onto card stock, decorate & send out quickly. Finally gave up & decided to quickly make one in Photoshop. This of course led me to try to figure what size it should be.

I went to the USPS website and got the following information.

Postcard Sizes:

According to the USPS website you'll pay .33 (that's as of today, 2/14/13) to mail a postcard with a minimum size of 5" long by 3-1/2 " high by .007" thick to a maximum of 6"  long by 4-1/4"  inches high by .016 inch thick.  International postcards just went up (January 2013) to a whopping $1.10. The good news is that there's now a Forever International Stamp so we can stock up before the next rate change. The bad news is that it now costs as much to send to Canada and Mexico as it does to Nepal.

Additional notes from the USPS site:
  • Any item smaller than the minimum dimensions is not mailable
  • For postcards, length is the dimension parallel to the address
  • Postcards must be rectangular and be made of unfolded and uncreased paper or card stock.
  • Large cards that exceed the maximum dimensions of a postcard pay the First-Class Mail letter, large envelope, or package price 
This is what I ended up making. They're 4" x 6", so all there is to do is print them on card stock (I prefer 110#), decorate the front, address it, slap a 29 cent stamp on it & it's ready to go. I did the graphics in my current favorite color, indigo blue. Easy to print black & white instead of color when I want black instead. 
Please download the blank postcard template here in pdf format.


SmoothFox Crochet and Knit: Winter 2011 Charity Square Drive

SmoothFox Crochet and Knit: Winter 2011 Charity Square Drive

This looks like a great charity challenge with a number of prizes. The site also has a number of terrific crochet square patterns that are perfect to quickly work up for blankets and afghans for charity.

Here's a list of other charities that accept knitted or crocheted items.


Free ATC Templates and Artwork in jpg Format

Go to ATC Templates and Artwork, a set on Flickr, to download jpg files of ATC templates and artwork if you'd like to be able to work on the files in a photo editing program.

To download .pdf files of these free ATC templates click here

Click on the captions of the images below to go directly to that individual image file on Flickr:

ATC Blank Template with Grid Lines

ATC Backs

Blank ATC Template
Birthday Bird ATC Background

ATC's for September 2011

Curiosity ATC

Punched Art Artist Trading Card
No Paper ATC
Zentangled G ATCs

Field of Flowers ATC

 ATC's made from pages from Carl Jung's book "Man and His Symbols"

I came across this book, "Man and His Symbols", by Carl Jung, an old text book of my husband's from the 70's. He'd underlined it and scribbled notes all over it which made it even more interesting when I began to tear it up and repurposed it.
Yellow Flowers #1 and 2 Artist Trading Cards

Green Flowers ATC and Blue Flowers ATC

Fortune Cookie ATC

Finest Hat ATC

Fortune Cookie ATC

"A Mature Personality ATC"

Another ATC using text from Carl Jung

"Abstraction of Three" ATC

An assortment of papers with watercolor and acrylic paint, tissue paper and pen and ink.

Striped Flower ATC
Pen and Ink on Paper

Make a Big Picture ATCs
Acrylic paint and pen and ink on card stock with tissue paper and fabric
Mixed Media on paper
Family Tree
Mixed media on paper
"Imagine" ATC
 Mixed Media on Paper
"Squares" ATC
Ink and watercolor on paper


Zentangled Alphabet ATCs

These ATC's represent my first attempts at "Zentangle", "an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive pattern" developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. It's lots of fun, and in the case of these letters, a bit of a challenge to come up with the balance I wanted between the letter not having enough pattern and having so much pattern it was indecernible from the background.

I started out by creating a generic blank ATC card template in Photoshop because much to my surprise I couldn't find one already available. I'm happy to share my blank ATC  template here here.  Next I played with the template and the letter "F" in different fonts, manipulating the height, width, weight etc.  Get the template for the blank letter f ATC's here. I've added a blog page with all my templates in one place, including blank outlines of each of the letters I've used here.

I print these templates out onto 110 lb.  Card Stock and it's pretty much like coloring in a coloring book. When I'm finished I use a template that I've made for an ATC back, also printed onto 110" stock, and glue the front to the back. I like the weight and stiffness of the double card stock.

Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter A

Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter B
Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter C
Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter D
Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter E
 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter F
 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter G
Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter H

 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter I

 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter J

 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter J

 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter J

Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter K

Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter L

 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter M
 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter N
 Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter O
Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter P
2012-5: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter Q
 2012-6: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter R
 2012-7: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter S
 2012-8: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter T

 2012-43: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter U
 2012-44: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter V
 2012-45: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter W
 2012-48: Zentangled Alphabet ATC's: Letter X
 2012-46: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter Y
 2012-47: Zentangled Alphabet ATCs: Letter Z