...because home doesn't happen overnight.

boys bedroom after 10

Did you happen to notice the yarn-bombed letters in the boys’ room? The answer is yes. Because they took me forever. I bought two paper maché letters (one for each boy) from JoAnn’s when they were 50% off. I had them for a while and as the boys’ room took shape I realized the brown paper finish was screaming meh. Or mumbling meh?

Anyway, I considered painting the letters but decided to wrap them in yarn for more texture. I thought it would be a quick and easy project. I mean, how long does it take to wrap some yarn around a paper maché letter? HOURS. It takes hours! And several hot glue sticks. (The ‘E’ was particularly mind-numbing.) Who knew and didn’t tell me?

I hadn’t planned on devoting an entire post to these letters. I wrapped the ‘E’ first and didn’t take any pictures of it in progress. I was so annoyed! For the most part, I really liked the way it turned out though. When I tackled the ‘L’, I was feeling more confident mostly because I knew what to expect (lots of time, yarn, glue and burnt fingertips) and also the basic ‘L’ shape was a lot less intimidating. In hindsight, I probably should have started with the easier letter. Oh well. Hindsight is 20 / 20.

I took some pictures of the ‘L’ in progress to demonstrate a few talking points. This isn’t a step-by-step tutorial because different letters pose different challenges. If you want to try this craft, my advice is to stare down your letter and come up with a plan of action before you start wrapping and gluing. (Remember, you want all sides covered!) Or just (re)name your kid something that starts with an ‘I’.

I came up with a design that would mimic a Hudson Bay blanket in the boys’ room: white with dark blue-black, turquoise, mustard and red stripes. I bought my yarn at JoAnn’s and tried to choose colors that weren’t too primary to keep with the Hudson Bay scheme. I also decided I wanted the end result to have only vertically wrapped yarn showing from the front. Keeping those things in mind, this is what I did…

yarn wrapped letters 1

1 – I started on the lowest part of the ‘L’. I cut several small lengths of red yarn and hot glued them to the side of the point at which you would normally end the letter’s formation when writing. I made sure the small lengths were ~1″ longer than I needed so I would be able to wrap (hide) the cut ends once I started wrapping back to front. (See step 6 below for an image of some not yet wrapped small lengths of white yarn to better demonstrate this point.) Once the side was covered, I started wrapping the letter back to front with red yarn, tucking and gluing the cut side ends as I went.

2 – Once I finished the red stripe, I continued on with the mustard stripe. It’s important to wrap the yarn snug!

3 – I always started and ended each color on the back of the letter with a little hot glue and added more glue on the back periodically as I wrapped to keep the yarn in place.

4 – The stripes are done! I didn’t measure the width of each one – just eyeballed them.

yarn wrapped letters 2

5 – I started a length of white yarn next to the dark blue-black and wrapped it to the interior corner of the ‘L’. Then I continued that same length of white yarn horizontally up the longer line of the ‘L’ to cover the sides.

6 – At this point, the majority of the sides were covered save for a small section at the bottom exterior corner. I cut several small lengths of white yarn (~1″ longer than necessary) and individually hot glued them to cover the exposed side. (Much like I did with the red yarn in step 1.) You can see the top of the ‘L’ is still exposed but I take care of that in step 7.

7 – I wrapped the longest line of the ‘L’ back to front with white yarn, tucking and gluing the cut side ends as I went. This step gave me only vertically wrapped yarn showing from the front and covered the exposed top too.

yarn wrapped L

The finished product! If you scroll back up to the first image in this post, you’ll notice that the ‘L’ turned out much better than the ‘E’. I was focusing so much of my attention on the logistics of covering all sides of the ‘E’ that I wasn’t pulling the yarn as taut as I should have been so some areas are a little sloppy. Whatever. I’m not doing it over.

Yarn-bombed letters. Man, they’re tedious but I do like how they turned out. They’re great for children’s rooms and nurseries. If I ever craft them again, I’ll make it a party so I don’t suffer alone. Someone will be in charge of bringing wine.

Have you ever started what you thought would be a quick and easy project only to discover it was way more involved than you had anticipated? I’d love to hear your stories.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

26 Comments

16.January.2015

They look great! But…..the white yarn doesn’t really show so could you paint the letters first with white paint and then just wrap the colored yarns around. You would then have a texture difference plus the color difference. If you use a rough brush and leave the brush strokes in you could mimic the lines of the yarn wrapping.

I have enjoyed reading your blog – I am not much of a decorating person but do find the peep into someone else’s home so interesting. Beth

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16.January.2015

I planned to yarn-wrap a few letters for a friend’s bridal shower decor. An hour in, I realized I didn’t love my friend that much and ditched the whole project. The pinterest pictures make this project look so easy, but it is frustrating and tedious. Bleh.

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16.January.2015

Ha! This brings back bad memories of when I was a public children’s librarian and I decided this would be a good craft to do with ~6-7 year olds during a storytime. Not my brightest moment. Even worse, I tried to have the kids cut their letters out of cardboard, which is stupidly difficult even for an adult—all their caretakers ended up doing it for them. Oof.

Unrelated to this post, my partner and I are excited to try meditating with his daughter tonight before bed. What a beautiful, healthy practice you’ve got going.

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16.January.2015

Story of my life! I always underestimate the amount of time my “brilliant” ideas will take. I make sculptural cakes – you know, for fun (*cough*overachiever*cough*) – and end up frustrated and tired when I am finally finished at some ungodly hour.

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16.January.2015

I love how the letters turned out! This reminds me of a string art bicycle I made for my daughter’s nursery. Hammering tiny little nails close together to form a bicycle is incredibly tedious! My husband had to tag in and rescue the project so I didn’t give up before the string was wound!

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16.January.2015

This definitely looks like it could take some time, but the result is great! Thanks for sharing!

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16.January.2015

I like how they turned out, but I don’t think I’ll be attempting any myself. If your “glowing” review of the process hadn’t swayed me, I can imagine how dusty and covered in cat hair they would end up in my house: ( I guess I’ll admire from afar!

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16.January.2015

they look great. I wrapped a medium size 3 in about 15 minutes for a party. I only glued the beginning and end though and used thicker yarn. I decided to use embroidery floss to wrap a lampshade. It is taking forever!!!! Hopefully it will actually get finished. It is funny how small projects and take so much time!

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16.January.2015

I, too, attempted one of those yarn wrapped letters! And now I’m racking my brains trying to figure out what I did with it – I’m thinking it was a Valentine themed something?? Anyway, it was such a pain in the rear!

As for other allegedly ‘quick and easy’ projects, the list is never-ending. I am a huge fan of Martha Stewart and have been a subscriber since at least 1996. Which means our office/craft room is a virtual graveyard of unfinished crafts. I am certain that only an art school graduate could’ve completed them – but that somehow doesn’t stop me from starting a new one once another issue shows up in my mailbox!

ps – I loved your post about meditating and have tried it on my own with little success, but never thought of trying it with my husband. thanks for the inspiration! :)

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16.January.2015

I decided to wrap 4 wine bottles in jute string used for jewelry making to give them a rustic touch for a cake table decoration at my wedding. (and hung some button letters off of them). Each bottle took 3-4 hours, and that jute destroys fingers. Needless to say a few bandaids, and about 15 hours later I was happy to be done. Looking back, I would do it all over again because it was one of my favorite decorations and they look great on my fireplace mantle =)

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16.January.2015

If it makes it better and seem more worth the trouble. They look good and add needed color and they tie in with the blanket as you said. They work because they personalize the room more. Every room needs a personal touch. Nice of you to make them for the boys. Happy Friday to you.

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16.January.2015

I wrapped an “M” in yellow yarn for our entry a few years ago. I feel your frustration! I learned a few things, never use a serif letter (I did), and a yarn that fluffs when you wrap is even more of a pain, also hard to keep clean.

I keep thinking I’ll remake it so it’s less of a dust magnet – but I never do.

I love the colors you picked for the stripes, and through out the rest of the room.

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16.January.2015

These cute letters were actually one of the things that really drew my eye in the room “reveal”… I love the muted colors you picked for the yarn, and I did notice that they matched the blanket (I LOVE those wool striped blankets!!) so, your efforts didn’t go unnoticed anyway they really do make a great statement!! I pretty much under-estimate the time needed for just about everything: projects, driving time, daily life tasks…but I once had a sewing project which required 23 yards of fabric piping, and THAT was loooong and tedious too

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16.January.2015

These look great – I like how the E is a bit rougher…not too “done” and it has great texture! Plus the colors look fab on both. They reminded me immediately of this blanket:
http://www.pendleton-usa.com/product/Home-Blankets/Blankets/NATIONAL-PARKS-BLANKETS/5TH-AVENUE-GLACIER-PARK-THROW/168397/sc/1839/c/1821/pc/1816.uts

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17.January.2015

Ha! They take soooooo much longer than they look! I love them, but man! Same thing with the yarn wreaths!

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17.January.2015

I always love your honesty! I think they are adorable, but please, tell me about those shelves! Where are they from? Love the simple brackets!

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replied on January 18th, 2015

Ikea!

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17.January.2015

I know how you feel. I also did a DIY Yarn-Wrapped Letters for my son. I printed the letters I like from online, glued it onto a cardboard from a diapers box, hubby cut them out, and then I started wrapping them. No glue, just wrapped it. I started the project a few months after he was born and didn’t finished until he was almost two. I did his whole name and pinned it on his wall. He loves it and we use it to teach him his name.

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17.January.2015

When I was a young mom I used to do craft projects but now I live vicariously by reading blogs written by young moms and smile. Your story brings back memories but I think I would have lost my mind wrapping the letters S and K for my girls! Beautiful work you did. I love the texture and color.

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17.January.2015

I love the way you make your home your own. Even thought DIY projects can be time consuming and frustrating, the results (in most cases..hehehe) are so fulfilling. I love your blog. :)

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17.January.2015

Kudos to you, Dana. I feel your pain…Wrapping an S was no easy feat. J was not much better. But I’m happy with the finished products as well :)

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17.January.2015

This post made me feel so much better! I had a big wood G that was a crackled look and I thought it was dated so I figured I try wrapping it with grey yarn. It looks pretty good but I couldn’t believe how much trouble I was having! I recently thought I’d do a duct tape wreath (Jones Design Company). She is very talented but did not warn the readers of how challenging it would be! Maybe it was only tough for me, but anyway, I almost threw in the towel multiple times but stuck it out. So glad I did because it’s pretty striking.

Your blog is my fave. I think I’ll attempt the Calvin and Hobbes wall art… wish me luck!

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20.January.2015

Haha – this happens to me on almost ALL of my projects…
But does it stop me?? (no)
Do I still keep thinking that “the next project will definitely be easier AND quicker?? (yes)
Haha
Thanks Dana: D
Leah

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they look great in the boy’s room! love it.
i’ve done these many, many times (gifts, my home, etc) but here’s a little tip – double sided tape (like a @ Dollar Tree, etc) then, yes, a dab glue (crazy or hot) just for the final end and the whole project goes much faster. since you’re wrapping onver your initial yarn ends, this will save time, fingertips and sanity :) i also run one strip of the double sided tape along a straight side to keep the yarn from wiggling and gapping. — p.s. i LOVE your house; based on your shelving on the entry wall, my hubby & i did that for our entry wall… then i showed him your laundry nook & we redid ours as well! yay & thx!!!

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replied on February 3rd, 2015

What a great idea!

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[…] DIY Yarn-Wrapped Letters (a.k.a. The Most Tedious Craft … http://www.housetweaking.com/This isn't a step-by-step tutorial because different letters pose different challenges. If you want to try this craft, my advice is to stare down your letter and come up with a plan of action before you start wrapping and gluing. […]




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