Tuesday Tip: A Yarn Art Tutorial

Happy Tuesday, crafters! It’s been a while since we had a Tuesday Tip, so here’s a fun project (with some first-hand advice) you can try this week!

Some of you may know that I’m getting married this summer. As a crafty bride, I’m always trying to find ways to tie yarn (pun intended!) into our wedding decor! I’m also a big fan of monograms, and I’m marrying into a family name that starts with one of the best-looking letters in the alphabet (IMO): “M”.

Mr. M (my wonderful, crafty-in-his-own-way fiance) helped a LOT with this project, mostly because 1) he’s more detail-oriented than I am, and 2) he’s a lot handier than I am. We decided to put together some old-fashioned string-art–you know, the kind you did when you were in grade school–and use the finished piece as a decoration for our wedding reception.

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When he was a kid, my fiance’s father used to design all sorts of things for his kids and always marked them with the same italicized MK lettering (stands for Mikkelborg Kids). Since that italicized “M” is what my fiance loves so much, we put together a stencil and got started on our project!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • A piece of wood that is large enough to fit your design (we used some shelf cut-offs we had lying around our shop)
  • Sand paper (medium-grit)
  • Palm sander (optional)
  • Wood stain
  • Rags (one for applying stain, one for removing excess stain)
  • Lots of nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail setter (like this)
  • YARN!

How to Make Your Own Yarn Art:

  1. First, start with a design. You can either print a design on paper or do as we did: draw or trace the design directly onto the unfinished wood in pencil. Your design should be relatively simple in nature; you don’t want anything with too many complicated shapes. The more detailed your design, the more difficult the implementation will be.
  2. If you’ve printed your design, place it on the wood (light taping may be required to keep it in place). If you’ve traced your design onto the wood, continue to the next step.
  3. Note the “corners” or points in your design. Since our design was a simple “M”, we used the nail setter to place small divets at each point in the design along the outside and inside edge. (If you have a more complicated design, you will need to make more divets. To use the nail setter, simply place the nail setter tip in the desired location of your design and tap gently with a hammer. You want to tap it hard enough that it leaves a divet in the wood, but not so gently that it barely makes a scratch and that you won’t be able to see it when you sand the wood!

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    You can see our design traced on the wood and all of our divets made at each “corner” or point in the design. We used the table saw and trimmed the left-hand side so that we would end up with a mostly-square shape.

  4. When you’ve made all of your divets, it’s time to sand! Use sand paper and sand over your design on the front-facing side of the wood. Alternatively, you can use a palm sander to make the job quicker! If desired, carefully sand down the sides of your piece of wood. (Note: when you sand the wood, your design will disappear. But don’t panic! That’s why you used the nail setter.)
  5. After you’ve sanded your piece of wood, carefully wipe away all the sawdust and make sure the surface is clean. Blow out any sawdust that filled the holes made by your nail setter.
  6. Read the directions on your can of wood stain. Carefully (you may want to use gloves), pour a small amount of stain onto your wood. Use a clean rag to spread the stain around the surface of the wood and the sides, if desired. Note: Make sure you do this step in a well-ventilated space! Repeat after 15 minutes (or as long as the directions say) for as many times as needed to get the desired color–two or three coats should do the trick. After the amount of time listed in the directions has passed (roughly 20 minutes?), use another clean rag to wipe away any excess wood stain. Let stand overnight to dry, preferably in a well-ventilated area that is dry and not exposed to heat or light. (I let mine sit outside for an hour in the shade and then put it in the shop to cure overnight, just to be on the safe side!)
  7. When your wood stain has cured, you can now nail down your design. Using your hammer, carefully place the nails approximately 1 inch apart along the edges of your design. We used a straight edge to help get the lines right. Try to make sure your nails are hammered into the wood at the same depth so that some aren’t taller than others.

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    Here’s our piece of wood all stained, nailed and ready for filling!

  8. Using any yarn you desire (I used worsted weight yarn I had in my stash), you can begin the best part of this project: the filling in of the design! Tie one end of your yarn around a nail (preferably in a center part of your design). Pro tip: you could use a glue gun to glue the yarn tail down to the nail so that it won’t stick out!
  9. Wind your yarn carefully around the nails. This part is so soothing! Work in any order/direction you like–just make sure you stay within your design (that’s harder than you might think!). Go over your lines as many times as you like.
  10. When you’re satisfied with your design, bring your yarn back to a nail at the center of your design and tie it off. (You can use glue here, too, if you like!)

It’s surprisingly pretty easy! I had a hard time with sanding the sides (and using the table saw), so Mr. M helped out a bit. He also did all the nails–I think he was just having a good time by then!

After the wedding, we’ll put some picture hangers on the back and put this piece up in the house. But for now, it’s just sitting by my fireplace, waiting for the big day!

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