Hexipuff Complete

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The Puff of Puffs @Ravelry

The Hexipuff is making all the other pillows on my couch feel inadequate. It’s 16” tall and 22” at the widest point. It used almost 6 balls of yarn or 190 yds, an entire bag of stuffing, and almost 3/4 a yard of black cotton for the form. It is the undisputed pillow king of the couch, at least, until I give it to my mom. Honestly, it’ll rule that couch too with an iron fist. 

Want to know the secret behind a giant and proportional hexipuff? The necessary evil known as swatching. You’ll need the yarn and needles you’ll be using as well as a scale. Also, the following numbers and modifications are in no way meant to be a replacement for the original Beekeeper’s Quilt by Stephanie Dosen of Tiny Owl Knits. Buy the pattern, use it, and you might even want to make a whole flock of tiny hexipuffs.

Cast on the same number of stitches and in the same way as a regular puff. Then, just knit a tube for a few inches to make the math easy. If your swatch is 20 stitches around, has a gauge of 5 rows to an inch, and is 3” long, your equation should look like this:

20 stitches x 5 rows x 3”= 300 stitches

Next measure how many grams of yarn are in the swatch with the scale. In this example, let’s say 5g. 

300 stitches / 5g = 60 stitches per gram

So, for every gram of yarn, you can knit 60 stitches. Let’s say you have 2 50g balls to make your puff. 

(2 x 50g) x 60 stitches = 6,000 stitches

This means that the total number of stitches in your puff is 6,000. Any more than that and you’ll run out of yarn. Now, you can figure out how many stitches to cast on and much to increase before decreasing. The original puff has twice the number of stitches at its widest point than at the cast on. 

Since the puff is symmetrical you only have to figure out how much to cast on and number of increases to use up half the number of stitches, 3,000 in this case. I wish I had a handy formula I could just plug numbers into for this next step, but it’s all trial and error. And on a spreadsheet.

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Take a reasonable guess about how many stitches to cast on (62) and keep adding 4 until the number is twice the cast on (124). Multiply every number of stitches per row by 2 and sum the results. The answer, 2964 stitches, is almost 3000 stitches so you would cast on 62 and increase until you have 124.

Let the knitting begin! Don’t let the sheer number of stitches put you off of a puff or knitting in general. Just enjoy the process and the awesomeness that is a giant puff. Plus, you can use this method for more than just hexipuffs. Whenever you need to figure out how much yarn you’ll need for a project, you can follow the same basis steps.

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When I first started this project, hand sewing a pillow form wasn’t even on the radar. Just knit and stuff and graft and gift it away. Easy peasy. As the pillow got bigger, however, a form seemed much more necessary. It added few more steps and time to the process but it’s totally worth it. I picked up 3/4 of a yard of black, cotton homespun and spent part of an afternoon cutting and sewing it up.

Over the past few days, The Bearded One, Shadow and I have put the puff through some rigorous testing. It’s still firm, has kept it’s shape, and isn’t leaking any stuffing. Pillow forms are officially win. Also, it’s so much easier to graft stitches together when you aren’t pushing stuffing out of the way every 5 seconds.

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I know I said I was only going to make just one puff. Just one puff to rule them all. Now, I think I have to make two. They can duel for supremacy when I’m done.

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Ah, still makes a nice hat.

Puff Phase 3

The Giant Hexipuff continues to hold power over me. Friday night, I stayed up late to finish the decreases. Saturday morning, the puff had a luxurious bath while I assembled my blocking tool kit: pins, blocking wires, a yard stick, and a sheet of pink insulation sheathing.

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Saturday afternoon, the puff came out of the bath and moved to the sheathing which has more than made up for the aggravation it took to get home.* Blocking wires made the whole process really easy. I just poked a wire from one corner to the next and let it pull the edges straight from the inside. Adjusting angles and measurements was a piece of cake. Plus, none of those annoying points from using just pins.

Sunday, the puff dried.

Monday, I made a pillow form which I’d never done before. Flew by the seat of my pants for the whole thing too. After I unpinned the puff and removed the wires, I pinned it back down on top of 3/4 of a yard of black cotton. I completely eyeballed the cutting of a half inch seem allowance. Unpinned everything again and re-pinned the fabric together to roughly mark where the seams should go.

Wonky hand stitching go!

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Stitching the entire form didn’t actually take as long as I thought it would. I was imaging the process taking place over a few days. Probably didn’t even take an hour. I even flipped it inside out, put it in the puff, and started stuffing it. If only I hadn’t run out of stuffing halfway through. Retrieving more stuffing will have to be Phase 3, I guess. 

If you decide to follow in my footsteps, this last step is entirely optional. When you’re ready to start sewing, move half your work to a table in another room. Return and find a cat requisitioning the rest of it. Like I said, entirely optional.

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*Back when it was time to block my Hemlock blanket, I had to find something big enough to pin it out on. The sheer number of blocking boards required were a bit out of my budget. That’s when giant sheets of foam insulation came to mind. The next day I was hauling two 4” x 8” sheets of the stuff out to my car in a Home Depot parking lot. Not that they even remotely fit in my car. So, on a 90˚ day in the middle of summer, I’m slicing giant sheets of foam into quarters and trying not to stew in my own juices. Still, the heat wasn’t as bad as the high-pitched ‘nails on a chalkboard’ sound that came from dragging a knife through foam. Just thinking about that sound makes my head hurt. 

Hexipuff

I came across the The Beekeeper’s Quilt and the tiny little hexipuffs while searching for the perfect project to use up 20 yards of bulky weight yarn. Still looking for suggestions by the way. I don’t know how long I looked at mods people made to the puffs - fair isle patterns, Star Trek uniforms, Nintendo characters, flowers, animals, etc. What really intrigued me though were the puffs that people made into giant pillows and I just had to make one.

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In the perilous depths of what I like to refer to as The Deep Stash, I had two balls of Lion Brand Fettucini. They were a gift and I had no idea what to do with them...until now. I would snag the two other balls that my mom had to a make a giant pillow. Plan in hand, I cast on and happily used up two balls of yarn. Turns out, Mom had, not two balls or even three, but four balls worth. Too much yarn* and too many increases for the puff to be proportional and shapely. I did the only thing I could do - ripped out and did some math. Also, there was swatching. With the help of a friendly spreadsheet, I figured out how many stitches I could get out of one ball and multiplied that by six. The next step was determining how many stitches were in an ordinary hexipuff and how many stitches would be in a hexipuff if I cast on 40 stitches, or 50, or even 60. 50 turned out to be the magic number and I cast on once again.

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More than 3 skeins later, here’s what I have: a Giant! There are still 2.5 balls to go and I’m a long way from 50 stitches but the decrease rounds give me hope. 

Here’s Shadow for scale. He only looks mostly put upon by the whole thing.

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And here’s me wearing the hexipuff as a giant, oversized hat. 

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Note to self: make a giant, oversized hat/hood for next winter.

*First world problem, I know.