Scrap Yarn Ornaments

I have to admit that my yarn stash is out of control. So may lovely colors and fibers, so much temptation, too weak to resist. I succumb to temptation way too often, particularly when it’s mill ends, leftovers shared by weavers and thrift store finds.  So I’m always thinking about what we could create with all of those colorful and lovely fibers in my yarn stash.

I’ve also become more than a bit fascinated with the adult coloring book craze. So many wonderful designs. There must be other ways to use them in crafting.

Yarn Art

Yarn Art! How simple? Glue strands of yarn onto a design to create art. How hard could it be? Well, I’ll get to that in a bit.

hiuchol-artYarn art has been around for a long time. The Huichol people from Mexico have been creating beautiful art with yarn and beads pressed into beeswax for generations. They sit in the warm sun and press colorful threads and thousands, if not millions, of seed beads onto forms covered in the wax. Their designs often include a number of symbols important to their culture. This picture includes a number of their symbols and was created with yarn.

Hmm, important symbols? Yarn? Art? Must be Christmas! Or, at least that’s what jumped into my mind. Keep the design simple and anyone could do this, right?

Let me start by saying that folks often use peel and stick linoleum tiles. We didn’t have those or adhesive backed felt either.

But, I have glue stick!

Well, that dried too fast unless applied thick like cake icing.

Wait, I have the precision Elmer’s Glue pens. Better, but still messy. And, there were times we had to wait while the glue dried before going on to the next area. And, small circles just aren’t going to happen. And yet, with a lot of patience, a few muttered curses (I think more from Mom than me) we were off and running on creating our own version of Huichol yarn art.

We have seen videos on how easy this was to do on tiles and felt with a sticky, adhesive side; even one with a bunch of middle-schoolers and their creations. I had watched some videos of indigenous peoples making far more complicated designs than we were planning to attempt. We have decades of experience with embroidering, crocheting and working with all types of yarns and fibers. What could possibly go wrong?

Yarn Art Ornaments

AKA, Don’t Try This at Home

After an entire, and I mean entire afternoon of trying to glue little pieces scrap yarn onto our ornaments, we uhm, gave up. Yep, I admit it; we gave up. This will be forever filed under too fiddly, too messy, and an utter waste of time to ever be tried again. Nooooo, say it isn’t so. Alas, my friends, this is not a craft for all of us.

I thought I had the perfect family craft. I thought I was going to make a pretty yarn art ornament. I thought we could do this in a few hours. I thought I could share our projects to inspire others to give it a try. And, I thought it was as easy as those evil videos made it look.

yarn-art-tctI started with some printable coloring page ornaments for children. Simple designs with big open areas to fill – didn’t want to be too ambitious on our first try.

I cut them out and then glue-sticked them onto some green felt. I had trimmed away the outside lines thinking that we could sandwich the paper between the yarn and felt and hide it on the finished project. I thought the paper would make it easier to follow the design and add some strength to our yarn ornaments. Brilliant, right?

We have grocery bags full of bits and pieces of embroidery wool. A true rainbow of colors and we both opted to grab some of that to work with. I went country Christmas, Mom went for a modern look. She even added some braided pieces and some hanging tassels. How clever was that?

It’s funny but they look an absolute fright in real life and these photos make them look almost as cool as we had imagined they would be – especially Mom’s.

Art? Not Happening Here.

yarn-art-failSmall circles. Forget-about-it. Making curved areas was like losing a wrestling match with a 2 inch piece of yarn. They’re encrusted with glue and don’t lay nice and flat. Cover black lines with light-colored yarn? – ain’t gonna happen. Think you’ve covered the paper completely – nope, just wait until it dries. Color variations from the glue saturating the yarn might come out cool (see the red wiggle on the Christmas yarn ornament), or just look like stained pieces of yarn glued to paper (see blue ornament).

Crafty Fail, Unless. . .

I decided that we had wasted enough time and supplies and suggested we call it quits. Here’s a closer look at how well mine didn’t turn out.

Sticky Trap Cards to the Rescue

…or not?

not-so-stickyOh, but wait. I have a bunch of this crazy sticky stuff I had bought to get rid of a nasty infestation of fungus gnats that came in some bagged dirt. It has to be as sticky as linoleum tiles or the backing on sticky felt, after all it’s so very sticky that little gnats get stuck to it and die.

It worked great! Nice tight little circles with both single strands of embroidery wool and 4-ply acrylic yarns.

But, alas, those didn’t turn out so well either. Within about 10-20 minutes, those pretty little spirals decided to do their own thing. And, as I’m writing this, the end of the blue yarn continues to escape from the sticky trap. And, the red embroidery yarn seems to prefer being a sculptural piece rather than a flat spiral.

The Great Yarn Art Debacle

So, long story short, this grand idea turned out not to be so grand. Even using the very, very sticky insect trap cards did not work. I thought this might be something fun for families to try but I would strongly urge any parent to try this “easy” craft before inflicting it upon their children; or, in my case a reluctant Mom who gave it a truly valiant try before agreeing to give up.

Care to share any of your family crafting failures? Willing to fess up and share so others don’t fall prey to those YouTube videos and Pinterest Pins that proclaims something is so easy that even kids can do it?

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jackie

    This art work proves that we can turn simple things into great things.

    1. Michele

      I appreciate the compliment as well as the wisdom. Hope you have a great Christmas.

  2. Teena

    I seriously love your felt crafts. You call these failures? Think they would be pretty on a tree.

    1. Michele

      You know, I’ve not thrown them away. There is something pretty about them even though close up they are a mess. Might still find a use for them but they will probably get migrated to the circular file.

  3. Tina

    Dontcha just hate all these craft posts that make everything look so simple? Love your site. So few show when things don’t go according to plan. Sorry it didn’t work for you. Fun post.

    1. Michele

      I hate those posts too. I suspect with the right materials we would have been fine. Though I was surprised when the gnat traps didn’t work. That stuff is crazy sticky.

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