How to knit an Aran pillow with a Celtic design

Looking for a new knitting project? This stylish and fun-to-knit Aran pillow will make the perfect addition to your home decor.

By Glenna C

How to knit an Aran pillow with a Celtic design
Photography by Paul Chmielowiec
This cosy Aran pillow is the perfect project to enjoy knitting during long winter evenings.

You need:
3 skeins (115 g / 4 oz; 187 m / 205 yards each) Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran Weight 100% superwash merino wool*
• 4.5 mm straight needles or circular needle (24 inches / 60 cm long)
Cable needle
Stitch markers (optional)
• Blocking pins
Tapestry needle
3 buttons (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches / 4 to 4.5 cm in diameter)
16-inch (40 cm) square pillow form
*Or similar aran-weight yarn

Take a larger look at the finished Aran pillow with a Celtic design.

Tension:
18 sts and 24 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) square in stockinette stitch on 
4.5 mm needles, after washing 
and blocking.

To save time, take time to check tension.

Glossary:
beg: beginning
BO: bind off
cn: cable needle
•  CO: cast on
k: knit
k2tog: knit two sts together (decrease)
M1: make one (insert tip of left needle from back to front under bar that runs between last st on right needle and first st on left needle; knit this strand)
p: purl
rem: remaining
RS: right side of work
• st(s): stitch(es)
• WS: wrong side of work

To make:
Pillow cover is worked in three pieces (front, left back and right back) and seamed together after blocking. Completed pillow measures 16 inches (40 cm) square, to fit 16-inch (40 cm) square pillow form.

How to knit the front of your Aran pillow
Cast on.
Using 4.5 mm straight needles (or working back and forth on 4.5 mm circular needle), CO 80 sts.

Knit lower edging.
Establish placement of cable pattern.

Row 1 (RS): Knit all sts.
Row 2 (WS): Purl all sts.
Row 3 (RS): K1, [k6, m1] 12 times, k7. (92 sts total after increases)
Row 4 (WS): P7, k2, [p6, (k2, p2) twice, k4, p4, k4, (p2, k2) twice] 
2 times, p6, k2, p7.

Knit the body.
Row 5 (RS): K7, [p2, work Row 1 of Simple Braid over next 6 sts, p2, work Row 1 of Saxon Braid over next 
24 sts] 2 times, p2, work Row 1 of Simple Braid over next 6 sts, p2, k7. (If desired, place stitch markers to differentiate between cable placements.)
Row 6 (WS): Work all sts as they appear (i.e., knit all k sts, purl all p sts).
Row 7 (RS): As Row 5, but work Row 3 of all cable patterns instead of Row 1.
Row 8 (WS): As Row 6.

Follow this pattern chart to help you knit a saxon braid.


Continue in this manner, working through cabled chart motifs and repeating once a full chart repeat has been completed. (Simple Braid repeats after 4 rows; Saxon Braid repeats after 16 rows.) Work until piece measures 14-1/2 inches (36 cm) from beg, slightly stretched, ending with RS row.

Follow this pattern chart to help you knit a simple braid.

Knit the upper edging
Row 1 (WS): Purl all sts.
Row 2 (RS): K1, k2tog, k2, [k2tog, k7] 9 times, [k2tog, k1] twice. 
(80 sts rem after decreases)
Row 3 (WS): Purl all sts.
BO all sts.

How to knit the left back of your Aran pillow
Cast on.
Using 4.5 mm straight needles (or working back and forth on 4.5 mm circular needle), CO 40 sts.

Knit body.
Row 1 (RS): Slip 1 st purlwise, 
k to end.
Row 2 (WS): Purl to last 9 sts, k9.
(Creates a garter-stitch edge for 
button placket.)
Repeat these last 2 rows until piece measures 15½ inches (39 cm) from beg, ending with WS row.
BO all sts.

How to the knit the right back of your Aran pillow
Cast on.
Using 4.5 mm straight needles (or working back and forth on 4.5 mm circular needle), CO 40 sts.

Knit body.

Row 1 (RS): Knit all sts.
Row 2 (WS): Slip 1 st purlwise, k8, 
p to end.

Continue to repeat these last 2 rows AND when work measures 2-1/2, 7-3/4, and 13 inches (6, 19.5 and 33 cm) from beg, work buttonholes on RS rows as follows:

(RS) Knit to 7 sts from end of row. Move yarn to front of work. Slip 
next st purlwise, move yarn to back 
of work. *Slip next st, then bring 
first slipped st over top of it, as if to bind off.

Rep from * 3 more times (4 sts bound off).

Turn. Using knitted or cable cast on, CO 4 sts over gap left by previous step. Turn. Complete remainder of row according to pattern.

After all buttonhole rows have been worked, continue to work even until piece measures 15-1/2 inches (39 cm) from beg, ending with WS row.

BO all sts.

Finishing
Wash all pieces according to fibre content, and pin out to block according to final measurements. Cabled front is 16 inches (40 cm) square and back pieces each measure 8-3/4 x 16 inches (22 x 40 cm).

When all pieces are dry, sew side seams of back pieces to front piece. Sew top and bottom seams together, allowing about 2 inches (5 cm) 
of overlap between back pieces at garter-stitch edges.

Sew buttons onto button placket.

Fill with pillow form; button.

Read more articles like this in Crafts.

This story was originally titled "Celtic Knits" in the November 2012 issue.

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