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Front Street Teens

Abstract Yarn Painting

Looking to find a creative way to upcycle your old yarn scraps? These abstract yarn paintings are a fun way to do just that! I found this specific idea in the book Knitless by Laura McFadden, which can be found here at the library in the 746.4 MCF section on page 104, but I was also inspired by Victorian hair art. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s an intricate art form done primarily in Victorian times (and much earlier as well) in which people would collect hair (their own or from others) and create intricate hair “paintings,” sculptures, wreaths, and jewelry. National Geographic wrote a delightful article on it and if you’re interested, you can read up on it here. Yarn paintings on the other hand, are much less odd to hang in your room and are much easier to do! Here’s what you’ll need to get started.



  • Picture frame, box frame, or canvas

  • Mat board or heavy cardstock (if you’re using a frame)

  • Yarn scraps in colors and styles of your choosing

  • Liquid glue - Tacky glue or fabric glue work the best, but Mod Podge and Elmer’s also will work.

  • Scissors

  • Optional: Medium or small size paintbrush

  • Optional: tweezers, chopsticks, or other small pointy objects to help easily maneuver the yarn how you’d like it

  • Optional: images of something you’d like to try recreating



  1. To get started, whether or not you have a specific idea in mind or you’re just going to go with the flow, you’ll want to brush some glue onto the canvas. Start with just a little at a time and add more when you need it rather than putting glue down over your entire piece and rushing to get everything on there. And don’t be shy with laying it on a little thicker - you don’t want it running all down the canvas, but you do want a good layer on there in order for your yarn to stick.

  2. As you're laying down your yarn, consider what kind of textures you want to add. Braided, knotted, or woven pieces of yarn will appear much different from fabrics and ribbons. You can also experiment with it and make it a mixed-media piece by adding paint, paper, or other interesting textures and colors. You can also choose to leave blank spaces or fill up the entire canvas! I looked to Van Gogh for inspiration, but there are countless wonderful artists to gain inspiration from!

  3. Once you’re finished gluing all your yarn down, allow it to dry for at least an hour before placing it in the frame. It helps to trim down the edges to make sure that nothing is sticking out before placing it in.




  • If you’re going to use a picture frame, you can glue your yarn directly onto the cardboard backing.

  • If you’re trying to recreate something specific, you can actually glue the image straight onto the mat board or canvas and then attach your yarn directly on top! It makes it much easier to recreate when you have a template and it’s kind of like paint by numbers that way.

  • Use tweezers or other small, pointy objects to maneuver small bits of yarn - it’s much easier than using your fingers!

  • For different textures, you can unwind, knot, or comb through the yarn before gluing it down - experiment with it to find what you like.

  • You can also use fabrics for different textures as well - you can glue them flat or roll them up like yarn and add them in.

  • Cut t-shirts into narrow strips and tug on both ends to make it curl in on itself and make a unique kind of t-shirt yarn!

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