diy project: chunky finger-knit pillow

My knitting skills are pretty basic, but I’ve been wanting to expand them, especially for home projects. After a failed attempt at a blanket last winter, I hung up my needles and haven’t really returned to knitting since. This simple knit pillow tutorial is just the kind of project to pull me back, even in the warmer months. Anne Weil of Flax and Twine created an easy-to-follow tutorial for finger knitting, but then decided to make this chunky striped knit pillow DIY as an example of how to use the finger knits.

Finger knitting is a great craft for kids, but as you can see here, the simple knitted strands can be quite sophisticated when used for sewing projects. I love how textural and rich this pillow looks, and I’m picturing tons of great variations: fun color combos like navy and red, pink and coral, camel and bright yellow. I’m also imagining spiral or chevron formations, or even turning the stripes diagonally. It’s hard to go wrong with this simple formula, and Anne has provided such great tutorials to get you started. I’m about to go on a long car ride, and I can’t wait to grab some yarn and get to it! Thanks so much for sharing, Anne! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .

Want to achieve that chunky knit-pillow look without actually knitting? A child or adult can learn finger knitting easily — you can find a tutorial I made for the technique here. Finger knitting whips up quickly, especially with bulky yarn. Though typically thought of as a child’s craft, I think finger knitting holds its own beauty. Seeing my children’s (6, 8, and 9) love for it, I wanted to design some easy projects to incorporate something they can do but that are modern at the same time. This project was particularly lovely; I hope you all will enjoy it, too. — Anne


  • 2 skeins of different colored yarn (I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in Bold Pea Green and Natural Cream)
  • 14″ x 14″ pillow form
  • 1/2 yard of canvas/duck cloth
  • coordinating thread
  • long tapestry needle
  • sewing machine



1. Finger knit two skeins of yarn in colors of your choosing. The finger knitting will finish as one long strand.

2. Lay out a piece of canvas/duck cloth that is 20” x 18″, using the 20″ side as your width. Pin the ends of the finger-knitting strands side by side at the top of the canvas.

3. Keeping the strands side by side, bring the lengths of finger knitting across the width of the canvas, turn and bring them back again, pinning the lengths into place as you go. The colors will alternate as you turn the lengths at each side. The front side of the finger knitting has what looks like side-by-side chain stitches; keep these facing up. The back side looks more like a ladder. Keep this side of the finger knitting oriented down to the canvas, so that your strands of finger knitting look smooth, not twisted.

4. Your fully pinned finger knitting should look as follows. In my photo, the canvas extends beyond 20″ horizontally, but 20″ will be enough.

5. Now with a sewing machine, affix the lengths of finger knitting to the canvas by sewing vertically along the edge of the pillow, about 2 1/2 inches in from the side. (A 100 size needle or stronger is best; however, I used a size 90 needle just fine.) Use your fingers to press the finger knitting under the foot of the sewing machine as you go.

6. Your stitching on each side of the piece should be approximately 14.5″ to 15″ apart. Make sure to sew through the finger knitting before the coil starts to turn so that the strands are straight as they go into the pillow.

7. Take another piece of the canvas, at least 16″ x 16″, and draw a 14.5″ x 14.5″ square on it with a pencil or light marking pen (this will be on the inside of the pillow).

8. Place this piece of canvas face to face with the finger knitting, keeping the marked square facing up toward you.

9. Pin the canvas into place, making an effort to place the sewing line at the top and bottom of the pillow such that, a) the stripes come out even, and b) that when you sew along that line, you will be sewing directly through the middle of a strand of finger knitting.

10. Sew along the marked line, leaving a 6″ length along the side of the pillow unstitched to make room to turn the pillow inside out and to get the pillow form inside.

11. Turn the pillow right side out by reaching through the opening along the side and pulling the pillow through. Make sure the lengths of finger knitting and stripes are the way you want them. Now’s the time to adjust stitching, if needed.

12. Turn the pillow back inside out and trim all the edges to approximately 5/8″, clipping the corners of the pillow almost to the seam line.

13. Turn the pillow inside out again, and stuff it with the pillow form through the unstitched opening.

14. After the pillow form is in, hand-sew the opening closed using the ladder stitch. Start the needle and thread by securing it in the opening as close to the machine stitching as possible. Make a small stitch by bringing the needle through the fold of the fabric (as below). Then bring the needle to the other side, directly across from where your needle came out and make a small stitch through the fold on the finger-knitting side. Repeat this stitch over and over until you sew the entire opening closed. Finish off the thread.

15. Now orient your strands of finger knitting on the pillow and tack them down in place using a long tapestry needle. I took long running stitches through the pillow and short stitches in the top so they wouldn’t be seen. Tacking down the strands will ensure the stripes are even and there is no gapping.

That’s it, you’re finished!

  1. Darlene says:

    Omg! This is amazing and seems so do-able! I haven’t finger knitted since I was a child but this definitely gives me the inspiration to start again ( since all I used it for then was to make little hair ties and such). Thanks for waking up my knitting fingers!!!

  2. Ula says:

    This looks super great! Thanks :)

  3. Courtney says:

    This is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Knits and stripes are always a perfect match.

  4. Jane D says:

    gorgeous, my daughter is an avid finger knitter and this is the perfect little project for us to do together – thank you!

  5. Aw, these remind me of pillows my Gram used to have. Great DIYs today!

  6. jess says:

    Super cute, I tried sewing my knitting once and the yarn kept getting caught in the runner/foot – but then again my sewing skills are minimal to 0

  7. tiffany says:

    This is exactly the certain knitting technique with fingers we used to do as children! Great idea, never thought of turning it into a pillow!

  8. Mel McCarthy says:

    Stunning! I’ve always wanted to try finger knitting but was never sure what to make with the results. A pillow is the best idea. Thanks!

  9. sacha says:

    i’ve found a new project for plane rides! so excited!

  10. colleen says:

    wow ..maybe even I can do this! Thanks!

  11. Erin says:

    How many skeins each color would you suggest needed for 20×20 pillow form? I have four 20×20 pillow inserts that I have been wanting to cover. This DYI is perfect.

  12. Emily Rae says:

    We used to finger knit as children, the same skein of yarn over and over. Wish we would have made something from it!

  13. you are a rockstar Anne…I love the pillow and hope it give it a try…along with the crochet cuff you started me on at the Makerie..

  14. Lorraine says:

    I would try a basket weave with the strands.

  15. i adore this. i so want to make it. thank you for sharing!

  16. Meg Dunley says:

    This is beautiful and so quick! Thinking of whipping one up myself…may keep my fingers warm too!

  17. nk says:

    I made a hat out of it. Really warm!!

  18. I love how this DIY project blends knitting and sewing…some knitters are afraid to cut knitted material. But as a sewer primarily, I’m not. It’s just fabric. What’s more, it’s great preparation for steeking where you have to cut complex knitting you have slaved over. So good practice all over!

  19. Karen T says:

    Finger knitting seems to be in the air lately! I posted a bracelet I made recently ( and have seen a number of other finger knitting references and projects in the meantime, but this is both practical and clever. Love it.

  20. I saw this post on my phone yesterday and oh my goodness this is such a cool project! Reminds me of my gram teaching me to knit 20+ years ago :) Love it and the colors are gorgeous together. Nicely done!

  21. AC says:

    Stunning, brilliant, and oh so simple. I’m making this one weekend soon, and I can’t wait!

  22. Bianca says:

    Hi, Could you please tell about how many meters are in a skein? I can’t figure it out how much would I need for the pillow. Thanks.

  23. alyssa says:

    i love designsponge pillow diy’s, diy’s in general.
    im featuring this next on my blog visit if you like!

  24. Anne Weil says:

    I’m delayed in responding to some of these comments, I apologize for any trouble I’ve caused as a result. The skeins of yarn are 100 yards each. I used two skeins and had some left over. For a 20 inch pillow, I think three would cut it, though if you want an even number of stripes, you may need four.

    I am delighted that you all love the pillow. Thanks warmly for your wonderful comments. You have all brought a HUGE smile to my face!

  25. Thanks so much for this tutorial, I’ve just followed it with a bit of an adaptation, I used vertical stripes as well and created a pillow with woven finger knit cables. Have a look on my blog for the results.

    I made this as a part of my 52 weeks : 52 crafts fundraiser for Macmillan Support – Much appreciated!


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