Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Not Your Average Neck Pillow aka Binky 2.0

In my little corner of the world, winter is fast approaching.  Honestly, it feels like it's here already but that's because I hate being cold.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I tend to get sick mostly in the winter.  I don't know if it's the cold, or the horrible grey days, or the lack of anything like humidity, or just what.  Usually I end up sounding like a frog hacking up a lung because the universe decides to drain out of my head.  Most gross, and very annoying.  Earlier in the fall I suffered from my usual allergies to weather.  That's the only way I can think of to explain it.  I have no other allergies, but whenever the weather makes some dramatic change I suddenly feel like I'm dying.  It's already happened to me once this year, and I expect it to return at least once before spring.  This time, though, I did something a little different which seemed to help.  I found a comfortable way to prop myself up as I slept.  The 'comfortable' part or rather, the lack there of, is usually the problem.

I tend to sleep on my stomach or side so having to sleep on my back AND on a giant stack of pillows presents an issue.  I find it extremely uncomfortable and, invariably, at some point in the night I throw all but one pillow off the bed and sleep however I damn well please.  The problem there being that anatomy and gravity start working against me and I wake up choking and hacking.  This time though, I found a new trick.  I rolled my Binky into a log, bent it into a U shape, and put my pillow on top of it.  In case you're wondering, Binky is the name the baby blanket my Grandma crocheted me.  I came home from the hospital in it and have lovingly abused it ever since.  It's older than I am and still going strong.  Go 80's acrylic yarn!  And Binky saved the day.  I was propped up just enough to be useful and I had sides that I could snuggle into which helped keep me from rolling over.  Imagine my surprise when I woke up in more or less the same position I had gone to sleep in and found that my cough hadn't retreated deeper into my chest!  I've been toying with the idea ever since.

I thought about using a bolster pillow or something, but they don't have the right shape.  I can keep using Binky, but he gets flattened pretty quick, I have to re-roll him every night, and he tends to slide backward over time (I've since discovered).  Since I believe wholeheartedly that yarn can and will solve pretty much any problem if the crafter is clever enough, started digging through my stash for yarn in enough quantity to make something useful.

Now, I hate pink.  I hate pink a lot.  That said, this yarn obviously wasn't something I had acquired for personal use.  It had been intended to be an afghan for someone else, until I got 2 motifs into the pattern and decided I hated it.  Consequently, I had something like 8 skeins of the stuff.  More than enough for my prop-up pillow, even with using doubled yarn.  The bonus here being that, since the prop goes under my normal pillow, I won't have to see the thing.  (-:

Using doubled yarn seemed like a good idea too.  I hate how you can get little wispy bits of polyfill poking out of crocheted stuff so I wanted the fabric to be as tight as possible.

It took me longer than I expected to come up with a method that worked.  And then it took longer to make than I expected because I had some adorable help.

Just a heads up, you want to make sure you have ample time to make this thing, even if you're as masochistic a crafter as I am.  The doubled yarn is just thick enough that my hands would start to ache after working on it for a couple hours and I crochet/knit a lot.  By a lot I mean about 3-4 hours a day, most of it all in one go.  Once I made a sweater in a day.  I started at 8 or 9 in the morning and around 8 or 9 at night I decided I was "almost done" because I only had sleeves and a collar left to do so I kept working on it.  Without stopping.  I went to bed at 3am, but I got the sweater done.  I couldn't use my hands very well for a few days afterward, though.  Frequent breaks for the win!

Binky 2.0, a Prop-Up Pillow

Obviously, this is no neck pillow.  It's a prop pillow goes underneath your pillow to provide a gently raise slope making a much more comfortable prop than a massive pile of pillows.  The goal is for the prop to give just enough elevation and cradle your head so you don't end up not propped up.  I based it's measurements on a standard bed pillow and it should work just fine with queen or king sized pillows. It is worked as one piece, so no sewing, and you'll only need to join yarn once!  

2 skeins I Love This Yarn (This brand seems to be specific to Hobby Lobby in the USA.  It is comparable to Red Heart Super Saver in size and quantity but is softer.  Red Heart or similar should work just fine as a substitute if you can't get I Love This Yarn.)
I hook
Polyfill or other stuffing material

6 1/2 sc = 2 inches (5 cm)

Notes on adjustments:   I don't recommend changing the number of rows to make the pillow have a larger diameter; I tried making one that was 4 inches on a side and it was really uncomfortable.

Piece is worked holding two strands together throughout.

Side 1
Ch 142
Sc in second ch from hook, work sc to end placing markers in stitch 39 and 102.  Ch 1, turn.
Work in sc for 7 more rows moving the markers up each row.

Side 2
Working in front loops only, sc to 1 st before the first marker.  Work a sc dec over the next 3 sts (2 sts decreased).  Continue moving the markers up each row keeping them in the decreased sts.  Work to 1 st before the second marker, make one sc dec over the next 3 sts and continue in sc tot he end.  Ch 1, turn.
Working in both loops follow decrease pattern for 7 more rows.

Side 3
Working in front loops only, sc evenly across the piece.  Ch 1, turn.  Working in both loops sc even for 7 more rows.

Side 4
Working in front loops only sc to the first marked st.  Work 3 sc in the marked st.  Sc to the next marker and work 3 sc in the marked st.  Continue to end with sc.  Ch 1, turn.
Working in both loops continue increase pattern for 7 more rows.

At this point the piece should bend along the front loop only edges, you'll see the unused loops on the right side.

Match Side 4 to Side 1 with the right side facing out.  Slip st through the back loop of sts on side 4 and through the back of the chain sts on side 1.  When you're about 3 inches past the first corner begin stuffing firmly as you go.  Don't worry about stuffing the terminal ends all the way yet.

When Sides 1 and 4 are attached completely you will be at a terminal end which is shaped like a square.  Without breaking the yarn, work 8 sc along one side of the square, ch 1, and turn.  Work 7 more rows across those 8 sts.  Sl st the 8x8 flap to the main body and finish stuffing the arm.  Work slip sts around the entire square to close the end.  This includes the side that you started on.  Break off the yarn and weave in the end.

Join the yarn at the same point on the other end, and repeat the process.

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