I recently bought a new chair for my spare room and wanted a footstool to use with it. It had to be small enough for the limited space (and cheap!) so I decided to have a go at making a knitted, felted beanbag for the purpose. If you fancy having a go yourself, here's what I did.
(1) I used 1 strand of pure wool double knitting yarn and 1 strand of a pure wool chunky roving yarn (Drops Eskimo), about 800m of each, knitted together in the round on a long 8mm circular needle (please note: the yarn has to be pure wool and not the bomb-proof, machine-washable kind or it won't felt). I cast on 176 stitches and knitted a tube about 54 cm long then cast off but you can make your footstool any size you want - do a tension square before you start and some back-of-an-envelope maths to work out the number of stitches you need to get the required diameter. The shrinkage when you felt it will be about 30% so take this into account when deciding how big you want your footstool to be. Mine ended up a bulgy cube of about 38cm.
(2) I then made 2 squares on 8mm straight needles, casting on 44 stitches and knitting until I had a square, then casting off. I sewed one square in place around all 4 sides at the top of the tube but only sewed up one side of the bottom square, leaving the other 3 open for stuffing. I then put the whole thing in the washing machine and washed it at 40 degrees for 1 hour (not on a wool wash - the idea is that you want to shrink it) to felt it thoroughly.
(3) Once it had dried, I stuffed it really firmly with polystyrene beanbag beads in a stockinette cover and stitched up the remaining 3 sides of the base. And then I put my feet up on it!
Choosing how to arrange the colours is the really fun bit! I kept the double knitting yarn the same colour throughout to give some consistency but changed the roving yarn colour regularly to give a space-dyed effect. You can make your footstool as subtle or as loud as you want and use a limited palette or all the colours of the rainbow. The yarn doesn't have to be new, either. Some of the yarn I used was recycled, including a batch of ill-advised cafetière covers from a couple of Christmases ago, so if your stash of pure wool isn't that big and you don't want to buy more yarn what about undoing an old hand-knitted wool sweater that is past its best but you can't bear to throw away? Or maybe you can find something in a charity shop that might work?
The worst bit of the job was trying to get the polystyrene beads to go into the cover and stay there. Even though I bought beads in stockinette, they still managed to leak out, so be prepared for a bit of a mess. Probably a good idea to get someone to help with this bit. But once it is done you will have something completely original. No-one else will ever have one quite like it! Enjoy.
Click the picture to download a printable PDF of these instructions.