Knit Wit

Wall Art

Sometimes an idea just hits you.  BLAM!  Right out of the blue,  genius-like creativity strikes.  In fact, most of my really good ideas are things that I didn’t think about at all, but just popped right into my head uninvited.

Last night’s idea to not make dinner, but instead curl up on the couch with a reheated antojito and my laptop comes to mind as my most recent genius idea.

Out of the blue inspiration is how I came up with the mirrored plant box, the glowing outdoor orbs, and my furry chair.

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So a few weeks ago, when an idea popped into my head about wall art I was thrilled.  Once the idea miraculously appears the only thing left is to execute it.  Which is usually the easy part.

I’m a knitter and I have half balls of yarn left over from old projects.   No one ever knows what to do with leftover yarn but for some reason if you’re a knitter you just can’t throw it away.  You collect bags and bins and baskets of it.  Until  you see those gross, dried up, brown larvae cases on it.  Then you can usually bring yourself to throw away the yarn.  And you’re usually thankful you have a reason to.

The idea that hit me a few weeks ago was to turn the yarn into a wall hanging.  Not the typical woven yarn wall hanging, but something that would be quicker to do and more temporary.  Something you could just tack up on the wall in an hour or less and pull it down when you get sick of it.  Something anyone could do freeform without any rules or ability to knit.

Through a bit of trial and error I figured out how to stick the yarn to the wall without nails and we were off to the races!

What you need to make a super-contemporary yet charmingly retro yarn wall hanging:

 

Push pins (either magnetic or the regular kind for corkboards)

Double Sided Foam Tape

 

Paint the same colour as your wall.

 

Yarn

Method

Gather your push pins.

If you use the kind that have the nails for pushing into a corkboard, cut the nails off with wire cutters.

Paint your push pins the colour of your walls.

I just used my regular wall paint.

Then cut squares of the foam tape.

Peel one side of the backing off and stick your painted push pin on it.

Cut the foam tape so it’s just a small circle around the push pin.

Here I’ve just stuck the push pin to the tape w/out cutting the foam tape into a square first.

It makes it harder to cut the circle.

Make sure to cut the foam into a square first.

You’ll have about 30 push pins, so you might want to sit down to cut all the foam pieces into circles.

It’ll take a while.

And your scissors will get gummed up.

Now you’re ready to start creating your wall hanging.

So pick a spot.

I picked the area to the left of my curtains over the couch.

All you have to do is peel the back off the foam tape and stick it to your wall.

This way your push pins, (which you’re going to wrap your yarn around) just stick to the wall.

No need for nails.

When you’re sick of it, just peel the foam tape off!

Genius.

My first idea was to use magnetic push pins, with magnetic tape.

As it turns out, magnetic tape is NOT so magnetic.

Anyhow … start sticking your pins to the wall.  Place them equal distances apart in whatever shape you want.

The idea is to place the pins so you can easily wind yarn around them creating an abstract pattern.

You’ll end up with a pattern like this.

Removable push pins on the wall you can wrap and drape yarn from.

If you own a cat, wrapping the yarn on the wall will be a struggle.

A long, drawn out struggle.

 

 

You know what else will be a long drawn out struggle?

Making bits of yarn on the wall look good.

It will be a struggle the likes of which you’ve never experienced.

And finally, you will give up.

Because no matter how you drape it …

no matter how you swag it …

no matter how you spin it …

this thing looks like crap.

Shockingly, it actually looks a LOT better in the picture than it did in real life.

I added all kinds of yarn.  Ten times as much as you see in the picture above.  But no matter what I did it just looked like yarn stuck on the wall.  Amazingly it really did look a lot better in the pictures.  For some reason I deleted all the pictures of the more completed project.  I actually looked at them and thought Huh!  Looks pretty good in a photo.

And that’s the trouble with a lot of webites and magazines.  They *know* things look a lot better in photos.  That’s why when you try things they suggest they don’t look nearly as good in your house.

I did NOT want you to spend any time doing this only to find out it looks like a kindergarden project in real life.

That’s the thing about DIY and inspiration and creativity. Sometimes what you create is just disgusting. People don’t normally show you the disgusting things they’ve created. They only show you the beautiful stuff. Pretend they’re perfect.

What the hell’s the point of that? Most great ideas are created out of ideas that didn’t work at all. You think those big flying things in the sky worked on the first try?  No. I’m sure it took several tries for UFOs to make it into Earth’s atmosphere.

The point of all of this is, you just have to give it a shot sometimes.  A lot of times things don’t work out.  A  lot of times they do.  And sometimes despite the best of intentions your stroke of genius just ends up looking … well … a stroke.


78 Comments

  1. Bethany says:

    In all seriousness, this may be your finest post yet, simply because your message is one we (by which I mostly mean me) could all stand to hear. I get so frustrated when my inspired projects look like crap and my house doesn’t look like the magazine homes. Thank you for not pretending to be perfect. It’s actually quite inspiring.

    But you damn well better come up with something awesome for tomorrow’s post, because I have a lot of blank walls that need filling. 🙂

    (Just kidding, of course)

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Thanks Bethany. Honestly … everything looks better in a picture. Except maybe the Cupfakes I made. Those look pretty stinkin’ good in real life. ~ karen!

  2. Laura says:

    Now I am dying to try this.

    • Karen says:

      Laura – I know. I might give it another shot. Although I don’t know why. The point of it was to do something that would only take an hour or so and be temporary. I have something else in mind to do, but I’ll keep it a secret for now. I’ll let you all know when I get another burst of yarn wind. ~ karen

  3. Sara says:

    Actually…if you take out the center pins, and tie the ends of all the bits together then weave the strand of yarn you created back and forth across the center, you’d have a pretty cool dreamcatcher effect on the wall!

    • Karen says:

      Sara – No. No you don’t. You just don’t. Trust me. It looks like a craft project gone bad. You know those sites that have realllyyyyyy bad crafts on them? It would be appropriate for one of those sites but not for anyone’s actual home. Bad. Bad, bad, bad. LOL. ~ karen

  4. Sue says:

    Thanks for sharing, it’s good to know that sometimes not everything works out. I know that happens to me sometimes (like when I’m doing projects with my beads), and then I get discouraged and don’t work on anything for months. I think you’ve given me an epiphany – sometimes things don’t work out as planned, it happens to everyone, no sense to fret over it, just move on to something else. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Sue – Yup! That’s exactly right. And sometimes things screw up and turn out even BETTER than you hoped for. It’s a crap shoot. Creativity can go either way. But if you don’t try … well … you end up with nothing. Actually … I did try with my wall and ended up with nothing. O.K. Nevermind. You get the idea ~ karen

  5. Pam'a says:

    I read an inspiring quote a while back that was something like your very worthwhile observation, Karen. Paraphrasing, it said, “If you’re going to create, you have to accept that you’re going to make a lot of crap along the way.” –Just like having to kiss a lot of toads to find a prince, I figure.

    I did want to offer a suggestion for anybody wanting to try your project, however. Instead of trying to trim those little dots of foam tape into circles, either 1) use a paper punch or 2) spend way too much money and go buy them pre-cut at the craft store.

  6. netmiff says:

    I think if you took different colours and textures and tied them back and forth and side to side, but in an irregular pattern, it might not look so much like a large cat toy !

    • Karen says:

      Netmiff. Nope. No … I tried that. You’ll just have to trust me on this. It does not look good. It looks crafty and crappy all at the same time! ~ karen

  7. Jennifer says:

    1. LOVE that you posted this despite the outcome. It was a fun journey.
    2. Have you considered leaving up the tacks and having a ‘connect the dots’ party using yarn? Bound to be one rockin partay.
    3. Do I count three jeans changes, or only two?

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh — and one more …
      4. Any tips for painting the tacks? Yours look great; don’t imagine it was all that easy. (Did you dip them?)

      • Karen says:

        Jennifer – I did indeed try dipping the tacks first, but that doesn’t work. Too gloppy. Because they were magnetic tacks, to paint them I stuck them to a metal bar, held the bar and painted the tacks with a small child sized paint by number paintbrush. ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      Jennifer – 2 denim changes. The first pair are old jeans I use for painting around the house etc., but they’re too big and they kept falling down. You’re frighteningly observant. ~ karen

  8. Shauna says:

    So….. what your saying is that there is NO actual finished project?? Listen Karen, I’ve been following you for quite some time now and well…. really… YOU DELETED THE PICTURES??? WHAT were you thinking? lol ps, I’ve seen a pic of TP rolls looking awesome on a wall, so now you’re just telling me it’s just looks better in the picture?? I’m not sure what to think of all this… I’m so confused! Bethany is right… you better have some awesome stuff tomorrow! 😉

    http://www.designspongeonline.com/2009/11/diy-project-toilet-paper-roll-wall-art.html

  9. Julie shinnick says:

    Yep hubby and I laugh so much at the diy shows on the telly that say ‘ oh yeah just do this and this and voila!’ we know that is a pile of crap!

    That’s not real life eh? lol and imagine those perfectionist crafters who would NEVER admit to something not working out! lol I can see them having fits just thinking about showing their mistakes!

    three cheers for you and your honestly and relaxed attitude!
    hip hip……

    oh and by the way, a friend of mine showed me a way to use up all those bits of wool, knit them into a shawl of multicolours (you use a different colour for each row and the ends that you would normally sew in, you leave them as a fringe! Is very grandma like but so warm and cosy sitting up in bed! (the only reason I like winter, which is coming our way soon!)
    xx

  10. Farquist says:

    OK. First of all, I love everything you are wearing in this post. The gray sweater? Lovely. Such white socks! How do you keep them so white? You’ve already posted about your jeans so I won’t go on…

    My leftover-rolled-up-yarn gets dropped randomly in a glass vase that sits on my dresser. It looks fine. 😉

    • Karen says:

      Farquist – My socks are new! That is why they’re so white. And the grey cardigan is Joe Fresh. I’ve spoken of them before! 🙂 ~ karen

  11. CJ says:

    We got to see more of Cleo though so well worth the effort! In fact if you just changed the goal of your project from creating a temporary yarn wall hanging to entertaining feline companions with random bits of yarn you could consider yourself hugely successful. And you wouldn’t even need to complete the push pin steps…

  12. Jules says:

    hilarious that as Im reading this I’m thinking- “crap I have no yarn- gotta head out an lunch and get some”…Im so relieved I do not have to go and get any! However, I’m sure you will eventually come up with something just FAB to do with the yarn..so I guess Ill just buy it anyway so I’m ready 😉
    At least the cat had fun..

    Jules

  13. Donna says:

    LOL…..and I will now save myself some time not trying it! I would like to know what you have going on behind the lamp in the corner…..tall, light and pretty damn interesting. I am thinking a painted log, maybe the sibling to the table that you made?

    • Karen says:

      Donna – The white thing in the corner is an antique pillar from a historic house. Original, peeling, cracked paint. ~ karen!

  14. marilyn says:

    so its ok to say that it is just awful?

  15. Devin says:

    I once spent an entire 3 day weekend making a DIY capiz shell chandelier that I saw on Design Sponge

    ( http://www.designspongeonline.com/2010/08/diy-project-brennas-paper-capiz-shell-chandelier.html )

    I wasn’t even done yet, and I knew that I wouldn’t like it. But stubbornness took over, and I kept at it. I forced myself to keep it up and as time passed, it just got worse and worse: the little wax paper circles started curling from the heat. Just as I finally gave in and allowed myself to take it down… I realized that I accidentally broke the original light fixture that was there. So now I’m stuck with a constant reminder of my failed DIY attempt in my front hall!

    Oh and for the record, I also failed miserably at the cupfakes! (You weren’t kidding when you said they were top heavy!)

    • Jenn says:

      Ouch. That HURTS!

    • Julie shinnick says:

      oh I know that chandelier! I had not attempted that one yet and perhaps I may not now either! lol

      Am about to attempt the one made with plastic straws from design sponge….hmmm….don’t know how that one will go but if it flops I’ll know that I am in good company!
      xxoo

  16. Michele says:

    I was so disappointed when I discovered magnetic tape wasn’t so magnetic:(
    I actually saw a project similar to this about a year ago. I have no idea what blog it was on, but they did it in the shape of a tree and it looked really cool. I’ve been wanting to try it, but never got around to it.

  17. Jenn says:

    Leave those pins up.

    Let the brain ferment for a while.

    I think if you did a grid pattern with your neutral color(s) of yarn, and then played on top of that, it would read better.

    What is happening now is you have freeform fighting the structure, instead of dancing with it…

    • Jenn says:

      Another thought – sometimes it won’t work with spare, but if you pile more on, it works.

      I can see your vision, can you tell? There is a way that this will work. Just needs some more time.

      • Jenn says:

        Did you ever craft those ‘God’s Eyes’ – where you wrap the yarn around a wood piece with and it makes a clean look?

        What if you did a tension tie on the ends (sort of a makeshift loom warp) and then used that wrap-around-and-go-on method to actually make a woven look? I see chevrons, myself.

        I’m not sure that’s clear? Ah, well.

    • Karen says:

      Jenn – Nope. It’s crafty. It cannot be done. Sorry. I know everyone is pulling for me and for this craft but it’s a big thumbs down. I hear what you’re saying about the roundness of the yarn with the squareness of the pegs, but I tried it every which way. It does not work. At all! On many levels. LOL. ~ karen

  18. Lisa says:

    I just had an idea pop into my head!! I knit as well, so I have lots of yarn. What about stuffing one of those shadow boxes full of small balls of yarn?? I think I have one about 2″ deep somewhere….off to try!

  19. amber elizabeth says:

    Love that you posted a project that didn’t quite work out. We all have them, no reason to hide it!

    I did see this once and put it up in my last apartment: http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/how-to/how-to-make-a-string-tree-wall-mural-home-hacks-109655

    It was a pain to put up because there were so many tacks but I got lots of complements!

  20. Ali says:

    When you talked about making a shape on the wall, i was thinking more like an outline/shape more like what amber elizabeth showed. I was thinking connect-the-dots type shape and outline of like a horse or something, if you can figure out the dot-to-dot shape of a horse that is.

  21. Evalyn says:

    It may have been just a learning experience for you – but I think the cat had a good time.

  22. Stephanie says:

    Laugh out loud funny! This is kind of how ALL of my DIY projects turn out. Sorry your project didn’t turn out…but at least you could use it as inspiration for another creative outlet on your blog.

  23. Jeff says:

    What if you took small tid bits of the scratchy side of adhesive backed velcro to connect your yarn too. Then your wall would 1) not have pins jutting out of the wall 2) the tid bits of velcro would not have to be uniform in shape and size thus be easier to cut up 3) the velcro tid bits would be small enough to be hidden by the yarn sticking to it and 4)their small size would keep from damaging the painted surface of the wall? There is my two cents.

  24. Sparky says:

    Oh, ya know…I thought you were going to stick all your unused balls of yarn on the wall. Like giant pompom yarn things. I was getting all excited about that. I think I’d like to see all the different size and colors of balls of yarn on the wall. I don’t know how they’d be stuck on, however. But I’d like to see them all grouped closely together. Maybe you don’t have that many. Oh well, I don’t knit and I don’t have any at all…xSparky

  25. Bill Grigg says:

    Whew! What a relief, and what a great post. I have to admit, you had me really worried for a bit. I thought “WTF, she’s going to end up with string art on her wall and I just sent her money!” and of course you pull out one of the better blog posts ever (and not just yours). That’s what I like about this site, which is more than a “bit” off my more normal demographics. I was lured in by the DIY, but stuck around ’cause I like the human. Keep shooting!

  26. Leah says:

    one word (and seven exclamation marks)….spirograph!!!!!!!

    ….maybe I will give it a go and let you know how horrible it looks….

    • Pam says:

      This is what i was thinking too! I did something similar to this in elementary school with string and cardboard. Maybe I will try on my wall too…

      • Karen says:

        Pam – That was going to be my next option! However, what I was looking to do here was something that was temporary, that you could just do quickly. I’d like to do a woven wall hanging but the space I need to fill is 2′ x 3′. So … it wouldn’t be very quick .. and therefore I would be less inclined to leave it there just temporarily. :/ ~ karen!

  27. Nim says:

    Oh, and I thought you were going to push the head of the pin into a ball of yarn, then attach the pin/tape to the wall. Et voila, balls to the wall.

    Depending on the colors and textures in the yarn balls, it might be pretty cool. Plus you’d get to say “balls to the wall” a lot. A lot.

  28. On the other hand, the photo of the yarn in the basket on the windowsill with the organic wooden needles sticking out and the green grass grew around-around-around…. (got carried away) – looked really good!

  29. Beste says:

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your honesty, now it seriosuly made me feel better.
    Also below is an art installation that may inspire you a little.

    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662760/string-theory-gabriel-dawe-slideshow#10

  30. kasia says:

    LOL! I was sooooo waiting to get to the final awesome finished project! But your honesty about those *great* ideas is even better!

    The UFO comment had me laughing so hard I had to go blow my nose!

    • Karen says:

      Kasia – LOL. Sorry there wasn’t a final awesome project! I promise I *will* have more projects that work in the future! Go blow your nose. ~ karen

  31. Fife Froelich says:

    Karen, this piece is actually very similar to the work of Eva Hesse!

    • Karen says:

      Fife – I just Googled her. OMG you’re right. Only hers looks good! LOL. I know if I’d spent hours on it I could have got it looking good. Well … better anyway. I just didn’t want this to be a project that took hours and hours. Now I’m inspired again. Blech. Thanks a LOT. ~ karen

  32. Serena says:

    Reminds me of projects we used to do in school. We had to hammer tiny finishing nails in a board and wrap string/yarn etc around the nails. Some of the results were really beautiful!

  33. Josie says:

    Karen – this is a great idea! If I were you I’d give it another go…look at wire wall art and take some ideas from that and use your yarn instead.
    Also you can make those little decorator balls and ornaments or a light fixture the same way: glue covered yarn wrapped around a balloon: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ONRsltnC-wQ/TReGgWTCtZI/AAAAAAAACA4/HIGNP0MYg9s/s1600/IMG_0310.jpg

  34. Natasha says:

    ~OMG
    ~this was hilarious
    ~first time here,bookmarking you at the top of my blog folder
    ~you seriously ROCK!!

  35. Fifi Froelich says:

    Check out the show pix from the Whitney – Singular Visions – in NYC. Saw it over XMAS….had a great string/rope piece –
    I guess from many years ago that was on display again.
    Not sure of artist on that piece!
    Enjoy your blog very much!

  36. Karen J says:

    Great Idea! Yes there’s always a time when you have to say enough is enough with genius ideas.
    I don’t have a cat but don’t cats like to play with yarn?!! Could have gotten ugly or funny depending how your mind works.

  37. Heather says:

    I can’t BELIEVE you dangled a solution to my knitting stash problem right in front of me like that, and then you snatched it away — heartless.

  38. Heather says:

    Also, I originally thought you were going to try sort of a ‘God’s Eye’ thing (remember THOSE?!).

  39. Nikki F. says:

    For all those little yarn balls from the ends of projects, I knit or crochet them into tight little squares (about 3×3″) Fold diagonally in half into a triangle and either crochet, if you can, or sew up one side, stuff with fluff and catnip, sew/crochet closed the other side and hide your ends and instant cat toy. The local shelters love them and my cats think they’re great too.

    • Karen says:

      Nikki – Thanks Nikki! Perfect way to get rid of the yarn. Plus a quick and easy thing to knit when you feel like knitting but don’t have a project on the go! ~ karen

  40. Becca says:

    Thank you for making me laugh. Great (and not so great ideas) and great humour all in one place… I love your blog!

  41. Phedra says:

    A little late now on this post, but…
    I have seen this project done before, and it can look very clever. One push pin in a corner and then a good distance away from that one, make a semi-circle or an arc around the pin. From the one pin, wrap your yarn around a pin in the semi circle, go back to the one pin, and so on and so on. The one I saw was completed with bright yellow colors to look like the rays of the sun.
    Maybe a design more “free form” would work better? Anyhoo… Love love this site, you crack me up.

    • Karen says:

      Phedra – Thank for the site compliment! I know the type of design you’re talking about. It isn’t what I was going for. I knew exactly in my head what I wanted and once i started doing it I also knew it was never going to happen. Not that day anyway! 🙂 ~ karen

  42. KittyCardea says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so i don’t know if anyone has said already, but I have seen yarn wall art look good. It was a tree. Maybe try to not be abstract?

    That said, I really do appreciate the message of this post. I sometimes hold back on trying out a new idea for fear of screwing it up and having wasted a lot of time and/or material. I’ll try to let go more often and just do it.

  43. Gayla T says:

    Too bad I found this project now but then I wasn’t even aware you existed back in March. I’m sure you did something wonderful with that wall but I’m going to try and find my instruction sheet for a tree of life made from yarn. They are so cool. I owned a craft shop for a short time back in the 80’s and did classes on them for years. I’ve thought several times lately that it is time to bring them back out. Back then I did them with Macrame’ cord and covered it with yarn or used jute and yarn but even then I liked the all yarn ones the best. I may not come across the instruction sheet until after Christmas but you can make one and blow everyone out of the water. They are so neat with contemporary decor I know they will be popular.

  44. Carrie says:

    Do a search on pushpin and yarn wall art. There are lots you can do, I do think most would take more than an hour however. My sister in law started doing this about 25 years ago and the piece she did over her sofa was gorgeous abstract. Now my son has a small piece up in the corner and he is going to do a tree by the tv.

  45. Parker says:

    Well, here it is, years later, and you are STILL making people feel better about failed ideas. Thanks, darlin!

  46. Mary Jones says:

    You might try this for your bits and bobs of left over yarn – lots of patterns out there on Raverly and other such sites.
    The Cozy Memory Blanket – mitered squares with each square measuring approximately 3½ x 3½ inches/ 9 X 9 cms. You can make your blanket any size you like.

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