Knitted with love: Using yarn to create pattern and texture

Hi everyone, it’s Divyam here. I’m incredibly excited to be sharing my first tutorial with you as part of the creative team.

When I was thinking about the theme of kindness, I thought about how much love and care gets poured into making things by hand for the people we love – baking a cake, sewing a dress, knitting a sweater. The end result is a form of kindness that you can feel, that has been brought to life through the process of making something by hand.

I was very lucky to have a fifth grandparent who knitted sweaters for me when I was a girl. In many ways, she was like a real-life fairy godmother. This page became a thank you letter to her for the kindness and love that she showed me when I was growing up.

Perhaps you can remember some time in your life when you received a hand-knitted or hand-sewn gift. Perhaps some one baked you a cake or cooked you a meal and you could feel the love and kindness that had been poured into it. Or maybe you can relate more strongly to being the one who pours your love into the things you make. After all, isn’t that what we are doing every time we open our art journals?

I wanted to express this feeling of kindness in a tangible way. And what better way to do it than with yarn? Plus, I have a stash of all different kinds of yarn from my knitting days. There are tiny snippets left over from knitting various sweaters, and larger, untouched balls of yarn from projects I planned but never started. I haven’t known what to do with it all… until now!

Here’s a peek into my yarn box…

Knitted with love

If you don’t have a collection of random balls of yarn hiding in your house somewhere, don’t worry. Even though we will be playing with a variety of techniques, the actual amount of yarn we need is quite small, as you will see in the video. You could ask a friend who is a knitter if she can spare a few strands of different yarns, or even ask your local yarn store for some samples.

In this spread, we are going to use yarn in a variety of ways to create pattern and texture. The end result will be a page that you can feel as well as see, and hopefully one that connects you with the joy of things made lovingly by hand.

Supplies

  • Yarn – a few strands in a variety of yarns: mohair, plain, sparkly, novelty – whatever you have in your stash!
  • Acrylic paint – in colours that compliment the yarn you have chosen
  • White gesso – I really like this gesso from the Liquitex Basics range
  • Small box – for example, a match box
  • Paper scraps – to stuff inside the box
  • White glue – with a nozzle, such as Elmer’s Glue-all 
  • Matte medium – I prefer Liquitex fluid matte medium but you can also use gel medium
  • Wet wipes – or a bowl of water for cleaning your fingers
  • Plain paper – copier paper is fine
  • Paint pens – I love using Uni Posca pens but any marker that will write on top of acrylic paint is great. Gel pens are good too.
  • Permanent drawing pens
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

Now we’re ready to get started!

Summary

Creating a background

Make a yarn stamp by wrapping a strand of yarn around a small box, such as a matchbox. Create a patterned background with a light paint colour, using the yarn stamp first horizontally across the page and then vertically to create a woven effect.

Paint a large circle quite close to the top and bottom edges of your art journal. Move outwards adding different colours, blending a little as you go. Select colours that compliment the yarn you have chosen.

Adding hand-drawn elements and circles of yarn

Using a pencil, draw a girl and a ball of yarn. Then trace over your lines with a permanent pen. When the ink is dry, erase the pencil, cut out your drawings, and stick them onto the page using matte medium.

Create a series of yarn circles on top of the painted circle, adding shorter strands here and there to add variety and break it up a little. Lay down a line of glue, following the curve of the circle and then place your yarn strand gently on top of it. Once it’s in place, go back over the yarn, gently tapping it into the glue.

Knitted with love

Yarn sweater and hair

Glue down some short strands of yarn to make a cosy sweater. I decided to glue the main body of the sweater first so that all the yarn strands wouldn’t get tangled up in each other. Once this is dry and trimmed to shape, come back and repeat the same process for the arms.

Add some yarn hair for the girl. Glue the area from her lower forehead to above her head and take the glue out to the sides as well. Place your yarn strands onto the page, their tops level with each other and also with the top of the glue. Once it is dry, come back and trim the area above the eyes. You can leave her hair long or short depending on how much of a hairdresser you’d like to be!

Knitted with love

Yarn spirals

Create yarn spirals in the corners of the page by making a circle of glue, twisting a small spiral between your fingertips, and placing it down onto the glue. Continue to curl the yarn around the spiral until it is as big as the glue circle. If the spiral gets a little twisted, or won’t lay flat, you can gently move the strands back into place with the tip of your scissors.

Knitted with love

Finishing touches

Leave plenty of time for everything to dry. Add text to the page by handwriting a short message around the inside of the big circle. Print some text in a retro font or make your own bold letters. (See the link for some awesome retro fonts in the resources section below.) Add some finishing touches such as circles, dots, colouring in the jeans, and outlining the drawing of the ball of yarn.

Knitted with love

Helpful tips

Be generous with the glue so that the yarn is able to soak some of it up while leaving plenty to adhere it to the page. But be careful not to lean on recently glued areas while continuing to work on other areas of your page. Leave plenty of time for it to dry.

Resources

1001fonts.com is a great website where you can download all sorts of amazing fonts for free. I had a great time browsing the 1950s fonts.
The font I chose is the fontdinerdotcom Jazz Font. Other favourites are Air AmericanaAtomic AgeMouse Memoirs, and Mrs Sheppards.

Knitted with love

Action steps

  • Make a yarn stamp and use it to create a woven pattern across your page.
  • Experiment with using yarn to create different kinds of stamps. Instead of wrapping the yarn, glue it onto the box in a variety of shapes: a spiral, a leaf shape, a moon. The sky’s the limit!
  • Glue yarn spirals to your page. You can use them as embellishments – as I have done in this page – or make them a central feature. Include spirals of different sizes and colours. Have them next to each other or far apart.
  • Glue the yarn down in a variety of shapes. Using the same technique as for the spiral, you can make squares, triangles, leaves, or flowers.
  • Make yarn lines and circles across your page. See what happens when they intersect and overlap.
  • Write a word or short message in big yarn letters.
  • Add yarn hair and a knitted sweater to a hand drawn figure or portrait. You can also have fun adding yarn hair to magazine images, or even to a photo of yourself!
  • Get creative with different hairstyles. Perhaps your figure has a hairdo made out of spirals, leaves, or sun rays?
  • Download some retro fonts and add them to your art journal. If you like you can use them as inspiration for your own hand-drawn lettering.
  • Make a small piece of art and leave it in a public place for someone to discover and enjoy. You can take any one of these techniques and make it the central feature of your giveaway art.

Thank you so much for joining me on this adventure with yarn. I hope you enjoy playing around with the different techniques we have explored. Please tag me when you post your yarn-inspired creations. I can’t wait to see what you will make!

DIVYAM

Divyam is a writer and cartoonist living in London. Her favourite part of of art journaling is that no matter what is going on, whatever mood she is in, she always feels so much better after doodling and throwing some paint around.

8 Comments

  1. Gilly Welch

    Oh Divyam this is absolutely fantastic and so inspiring. I’m going to go and have rummage now and see what yarns I can find….I love knitting for my granddaughters so this will definitely be a fun page to put together! Thank you

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Thanks so much, Gilly! I’m excited to see what yarns you are going to dig out from your stash and what you are going to create with them! Can’t wait to see!!! X

  2. Jennifer Lee

    This is so lovely – I can wait to give it a go! I especially love the yarn stamp and the texture of the finished piece! Thank you!!

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Thanks so much, Jennifer! I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial and that you’re excited to give it a go. I cant wait to see what you will create! x

  3. Lea Betty

    Oh so lovely!!! I loved listening to you and have you teach a lesson! Yay

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Ah, Lea, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And I LOVE the page you made! xxx

  4. CIndy Jacobs

    I’m excited to get started — I actually do have a secret stash of yarn and I don’t even knit!! LOL!

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Cindy! I love it that you have a stash of yarn anyway even though you don’t knit. This is awesome! And also intriguing! Can’t wait to see what you make… xxx