Crochet your own resistor cushion
“I remember I had a resistor stuck in my heel when I walked barefoot … stuff just kept flying around my apartment.” — Laura Kampf, Youtuber/Maker (Bricolage podcast, 15th December, 2017)
While working on a project, do you find loose resistors lying about willy-nilly (or for that matter any leggy electronic component) and you fancied a temporary pad or holder so you could access them quickly and safely? As someone who recently began sewing and crocheting, I recognized a similar problem with pins and needles. But in the yarn world, we have a solution for that — pin cushions! I figured why not have cushions for electronic components? They can be exceptionally useful for pointy-legged, cryptic resistors, with colour codes that are hard to read unless you are bestowed with excellent sight, math wizardry, or a photographic memory! And lo and behold, I made the first-ever resistor cushion!
There are many reasons why, but the most important being that crochet’s handiwork, with its code-like patterns and repetitions, give me a sense of safety and calm. Besides, crocheting is different because you can make 3D objects (a.k.a amigurumi) using just your hands without complex machinery. This is an empowering and subversive skill that I wish to share with you here.
In this tutorial, I will show you how you can make your own resistor cushion. It is written for absolute beginners who are new to crochet. Towards the end, I will walk you through an advanced technique that will make your cushion look super finished! One more thing, the resistor design is merely an example of my choice and I encourage you to pursue your own designs for your choice components!
Start by choosing a resistor with a colour code of your choice. For the purpose of this tutorial and to make it colourful, I chose the 4.7k Ohms 5% tolerance resistor with a colour code Yellow-Violet-Red-Gold. If you are unsure how resistor colour codes work, follow this link.
Now it’s time to purchase your yarn in those exact colours. I recommend 100% soft cotton yarn that works with a crochet hook size of 3.5 or 4mm (the recommended hook size should be visible on the yarn packaging). You will additionally require cotton stuffing to fill the cushion when you are almost finished. This is all you need! Stitch markers and a crochet needle are nice-to-have but you can manage without them. Just make sure you have a tapestry needle with a wide enough eye for the yarn to go through and some safety pins (or hairpins) to replace the stitch markers. You’re good to go!
Before we work the material, a few terms are helpful to follow this tutorial. There are basic crochet stitches such as the chain stitch (ch), single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc), half double crochet (hdc), and so on. Here, we will only use the single crochet stitch (sc). You will also apply crochet techniques like “increasing”, “decreasing”, “changing colour”, “working in the round” and not least, the “magic circle.” If you wish to learn the full range of basic stitches and techniques, I highly recommend the Crochet School by CraftyMinx, full with step-by-step instructions and videos!
You begin by crocheting a “magic circle.” There are many ways to do this, as you will notice if you search for “magic circle” or “magic ring” on your browser. In essence, this technique allows you to start “working in the round.” You’ll see what this means in just a moment.
Grab yarn that matches your resistor’s base colour and make a loop like an ‘e.’ Make sure the working yarn goes over the loose end at the intersection.
While holding the yarn in place (use your hand), insert the crochet hook from the middle of the circle and pull the working yarn from back to front to make a loop around the hook. This is what you would call a “yarn over.” Next, while holding the hook in the loop you just made, draw the working yarn again from back to front through the loop and pull tight. Always pull the yarn until your crochet hook feels taut and secure. Now you are ready to start making single crochet (sc) stitches!
Insert your hook into the bigger circle again and yarn over by pulling the working yarn from back to front (you should now have two loops around your hook). Draw the working yarn again through the two loops you just created and pull tight.
If you did this step correctly, you should see a ‘V’ shaped stitch by the intersection. Congrats, you successfully made your first single crochet!
Round 1: 6 sc
Repeat the single crochet stitch 5 more times. Altogether, you need to make 6 single crochet stitches, which you can count by identifying 6 V-shaped stitches. Once you have 6 sc, pull the yarn’s loose end all the way until you end up with a circle or ring of stitches! You just made a “magic circle.” You will use it to “work in the round” and “increase” or “decrease” single crochet stitches for the remainder of the tutorial.
Leaving the yarn’s loose end behind, increase the number of single crochet stitches by doubling each of 6 V’s (6 x 2 =12 sc). It is useful to have a stitch marker (hairpin or safety pin will do) at this point. Start by making one single crochet stitch by inserting your crochet hook below the first V until you have two loops around your hook and then yarn over. Mark this first single crochet with your stitch marker.
Then make another single crochet in the same V to make a total of 2 sc/V. Repeat 2 sc in the second V and 2 more in third V and so on. By the sixth V, you should have 12 sc starting from the stitch marker. This is what it means to work in the round. So far, you completed two rounds.
Round 2: 12 sc
Working in the round
For the next 15 rounds, continue making 12 sc for every round. In round 3, make single crochet’s for each of the 12V’s in round 2. Don’t forget to place your stitch marker in the first V. After 12 sc’s, continue the same with round 4 until you reach the 12th V because you will make a colour change here.
Round 3: 12 sc
Round 4: 12 sc (stop before you complete the 12th sc)
While working in the round, if you want to change the colour of the yarn, you always do it at the final stitch before starting a new round. At the end of round 4 i.e. at the 12th sc, start with your base colour until you have two loops around your hook. Then grab the new yellow yarn (the one matching the first band colour of your chosen resistor) and hold it behind the two loops. Then pull the working yellow yarn through the two loops instead of the base colour. Now you can let go of the base colour yarn.
Continue round 5 by making 12sc with yellow yarn, but remember to switch back to the base colour at the 12th sc. You can cut away the yellow yarn once you made the switch and then stuff it inside the resistor. Repeat this pattern until you reach round 15:
Round 5: 12 sc | Yellow (in the 12th stitch, change to base colour)
Round 6: 12 sc | Base (in the 12th stitch, change to violet)
Round 7: 12 sc | Violet (in the 12th stitch, change to base colour)
Round 8: 12 sc | Base (in the 12th stitch, change to red colour)
Round 9: 12 sc | Red (in the 12th stitch, change to base colour)
Round 10: 12 sc | Base
Round 11: 12 sc | Base (in the 12th stitch, change to gold colour)
Round 12: 12 sc | Gold (in the 12th stitch, change to base colour)
Round 13 & 14: 12 sc | Base
By the end of round 14, your cushion should start to look like the resistor. Now you can stuff the resistor with loose cotton.
To close off the resistor, work the final round by decreasing the number of single crochet stitches from 12 sc back to the initial 6 sc. You will do this by yarning over the first V (two loops around the hook) and then yarning over the second V (now you get three loops around the hook) and eventually pull the working yarn through all three loops of the hook. What’s happening here is that you are reducing two single crochets into one. Repeat the same decreasing pattern until you count 6 sc in the round. Pull tight.
Round 15: 6 sc
To finish the resistor, leave about 15 cm of yarn for sewing the ends and cut away. Pull the loop all the way through to form a knot.
Needle your loose yarn end and sew together the 6 V’s on opposite sides (1–4, 2–5, 3–6) to make sure there are no gaps. Then sew the yarn into the cotton stuffing for a clean finish. It is finally time to pierce some resistors into your resistor cushion and gloat over your new skill!
If you are not satisfied with your result, don’t be disappointed! Crochet takes practice like any other skill. However, if you feel ready for a bigger challenge, try the advanced technique called “invisible join” that will make your cushion look super polished and ready for shop talk!
Advanced technique: Invisible join
An “invisible join” is used to create a seamless join when changing colours and crocheting in the round. If you followed the tutorial, you will notice uneven bumps wherever you changed the colour of the yarn. These seams may not be as noticeable in bigger projects, but for our small-sized resistor that requires at least 4 colour changes, the result looks less than ideal. The invisible join is a clever technique to overcome this but it is not as intuitive. Although, once you learn the technique, there is no going back!
I will apply the technique used in this video by Club Crochet called the “half-colour change”. To achieve this, you begin as you normally would by inserting your crochet hook below the previous round’s last V stitch and yarn over until you have two loops around your hook. Then you hold the new colour behind the two loops such that the working yarns of the first (base) colour and the new colour are parallel to one another. Hold both the yarns in such a way that the new colour is on the bottom and the first colour on top. Then flip the yarns using your fingers so that the new yarn is on top and pull this yarn through the two loops. Now, flip the yarns back so that the first colour is back on top. (Yes, this can be a bit confusing! Check the video if you need help.)
To start the next round, insert your hook below the next (first) V stitch of the new round. Yarn over by drawing the first colour until you have two loops of different coloured yarns. Flip the two working yarns again so that the new yarn comes on top, then pull through the two loops. This is how you work the half-colour change. Repeat this for the entire colour changing process and you should be able to achieve perfectly straight and clean coloured stripes for your resistor cushion.
Congratulations on braving through not just your first crochet project but also your first amigurumi project! You now have the basic knowledge to create your own 3D object in crochet, but I also highly encourage you to pick up on the remaining crochet techniques to have a more versatile skill-base to make anything you want! All the very best :-)
The Resistor Cushion design is licensed under the CERN Open Hardware License (CERN-OHL-1.2). The documentation is licensed under the Creative Commons Attributions (CC-BY-4.0) license.