Basket Stitch Pillow

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Choose any color for your yarn and get started on your pillow today!
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"Japanese Stitches Unraveled" is filled with a variety of stitches knitters of any level can try.

In Japanese Stitches Unraveled(Abrams, 2018) by Lesley Unruh, readers can expect to find knitting stitches and plenty of projects to tackle. There are easy to follow diagrams and step-by-step instructions for beginners to use. Find this excerpt in Chapter 1, “Knits and Purls.”

Sometimes it’s fun to deviate from garment knitting and work on an item for your home instead. These pillows are quick knits; to make these “your own,” all you have to do is select a favorite stitch pattern, make a swatch to find your gauge, and then determine the number of stitches you need to cast on for the width of your pillow form. The next step? Just keep knitting and stretching your knitted piece over your form, bind off when it’s the right length, and work another piece for the back (or find a piece of fabric for the back). Then sew the two pieces together, leaving a space to insert your pillow form, and close it up. Add an optional attached I-cord, and you’re good to go!

Finished Measurements

13” (33 cm) square


  • Blue Sky Fibers Organic Cotton (Skinny) [100% certified organic cotton; 150 yards (138 meters) / 21/2 ounces (65 grams)]: 1 hank #314 Gravel

Note: You will need to purchase a second hank if you make a double-sided pillow.


  • One pair straight needles size US 5 (3.75 mm)
  • One pair double-pointed needles size US 5 (3.75 mm), for optional I-cord
  • Change needle size if necessary to obtain correct gauge.


  • 14” (35.5 cm) square fabric backing (optional), sewing machine or sewing needle (optional), matching thread (optional), 13” (33 cm) square pillow form


  • 17 sts and 32 rows = 4” [10 cm] in Small Basket Stitch, washed and blocked

Common Decorative Pillow Sizes

If you’re unsure of what size pillow to knit, the most important thing to remember is that pillow dimensions always refer to the pillow cover’s width and length while laying flat, unstuffed. The measurements are always taken along the seams from corner to corner.

Square Shape

  • 16” (40.5 cm)
  • 18” (45.5 cm)
  • 26” (66 cm) Euro or Continental
  • 30” (76 cm) Euro or Continental

Rectangle Shape

  • 10 × 20” (25.5 × 51 cm) Lumbar
  • 12 × 16” (30.5 × 40.5 cm) Boudoir
  • 12 × 24” (30.5 × 61 cm) Lumbar
  • 14 × 36” (35.5 × 91.5 cm) Lumbar
  • 12 × 16” (30.5 × 40.5 cm) Travel

Small Basket Stitch

  • (multiple of 10 sts + 5; 8-row repeat)
  • Set-Up Row (WS): P1, [k1, p1] twice, *k5, p1, [k1, p1] twice; repeat from * to end.
  • Row 1: [K1, p1] twice, *k7, p1, k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
  • Row 2: P1, [k1, p1] twice, *k5, p1, [k1, p1] twice; repeat from * to end.
  • Rows 3 and 4: Repeat Rows 1 and 2.
  • Row 5: K6, p1, k1, p1, *k7, p1, k1, p1; repeat from * to last 6 sts, k6.
  • Rows 6–8: Knit the knit sts and purl the purl sts as they face you.
  • Repeat Rows 1–8 for Small Basket Stitch.


  • CO 57 sts.
  • Row 1 (WS): P1 (edge st, keep in St st), work in Small Basket Stitch to last st, p1 (edge st, keep in St st).
  • Work even, working first and last st in St st, until piece measures approximately 13” (33 cm) from the beginning, or until piece is large enough to stretch firmly over pillow form, ending with a WS row. BO all sts.

Note:If you prefer to make a double-sided pillow, work Back panel to match Front and omit fabric backing. If you work a double-sided pillow, you will need to purchase additional yarn.


Pillow with Fabric Backing

With RSs of Front and fabric together, using sewing machine or needle and thread, sew 3 sides of Front to 3 sides of fabric backing using 1/4” (6 mm) seam allowance. Turn right side out. Insert pillow form; sew last side closed by hand.

Double-Sided Pillow

With RS of Front and Back facing out, using working yarn, sew 3 sides together. Insert pillow form; sew last side closed. If desired, work a 3-st applied I-cord (see Special Techniques, page 278) around entire pillow, beginning and ending at bottom center of pillow. BO all sts. Sew CO edge to BO edge.

The coral pillow was made using 2 hanks of Blue Sky Fibers Organic Cotton (Skinny) (#317 Coral), 13” × 18” (33 cm × 45.5 cm) pillow form, and 14” × 19” (35.5 cm × 48.5 cm) fabric backing. Cast on 79 sts and work in the Butterfly Checkerboard pattern (see page 106) for approximately 13” (33 cm), keeping the first and last st of every row in St st. Finish it as for the Basket Stitch Pillow.

Small Basket Stitch 8-row repeat Small Basket Stitch 7531 10-st repeat 8642 Set-Up Row

Note: Pattern begins with a WS row.

Reprinted with Permission fromJapanese Stitches Unraveled and Published by Abrams Books.