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Beyond Knitting & Crochet

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One of our suggestions for celebrating National Craft Month was to try a new craft. Your first thought may have been, “Well, I’m a knitter so I guess I could try crochet (again).” Or vice versa. There are so many ways to use yarn beyond these two popular pastimes though! Let’s explore some of them.

Macrame

Macrame is a method of creating textiles out of various types of knots using only your hands. Most often thought of in reference to hanging baskets for plants, this technique also creates gorgeous wall hangings and decor pieces that, although made popular in the 1960s and 70s, are seeing a strong comeback in interior design!

A pair of hands working on a macrame project that is hanging off a branch in front of some indoor plants.

Punch Needle

Punch needling is a form of embroidery where, instead of the needle going through the fabric, the yarn is pushed through the fabric with the needle staying in front. This process creates wonderfully textured pieces and can work up quickly, even with a number of colors!

Pair of hands working a punch needle project of a happy cloud with a rainbow.

Rug Hooking

As mentioned above, rug hooking and punch needle embroidery are very similar. Rug hooking, as its name implies, is the process of creating a rug by hooking yarn through a sturdy back to create a dense, durable mat. Another great opportunity for rich texture, these projects can be strictly decorative or completely functional depending on your needs and the materials used.

Hand working a rug hooking project with green yarn on a linen colored backing.

Crewel

Crewel is essentially embroidery using yarn as the thread. The technique is set apart from others by its bold motifs and the fact that it typically uses a 2-ply wool (called crewel) instead of thread. Stitches will be very similar to other embroidery.

© Mollie Johanson

Needle Felting

Done flat or in three dimensions, needle felting is the art of shaping wool by agitating the fibers to hold together in specific positions. The needle felting needle has tiny barbs that adjust the wool and encourage the felting process. Layering and blending different colors allows the artist to create unique and even lifelike projects!

Cross Stitch

Cross stitch is done by making small x’s or crosses in a set pattern or by following a chart on gridded fabric. It is a gateway craft for many people as it can be taught very young, requires few tools and minimal entry-level know-how. While it is traditionally done with embroidery floss, there is no reason it can’t be done with yarn of any weight! Get a traditional kit or create something that speaks to your personality!

An embroidery hoop with the word "whatever" cross stitched in a pale minty green.

Pom Pom Garland

Making garlands from small (or large!) pom poms is a current trend that brings texture and color to any space, any time of the year. A pom pom maker is helpful, but you can easily make these little gems without one! Either wrap, cut and trim your yarn, or find some leftover wool and felt it into balls.

Strings of pom pom garland in a rainbow of colors.

String Designs

There is no limit to the design potential for string art projects. The set up can take a bit of time depending on the level of detail and desired control of the final outcome, but these projects can be simplified for children or ramped up to the highest level of design aesthetic. 

A wooden square with the word home done as a string art project where the O is a heart.

Plastic Canvas

Not just for the kiddos! Plastic canvas is literally a blank slate for creativity. Use it for cross stitch or rug hooking application. Cut and shape it into baskets, wraps and other decor pieces. The plastic canvas has grown up.

The corner of a cube made from plastic canvas stitched with a grid pattern of pink, purple, blue and white yarn.

God's Eyes

Another activity that may remind you of summer camp or crafting as a kid, god’s eyes are basically a simple, shaped weaving project. Normally seen as a square or diamond shape made from two crossed sticks, the same technique can be applied to polygons and circles. Mixing yarns will create different textures and pom poms, feathers and tassels can easily be added for extra flair!

We could not possibly list all of the amazing options available to us as fiber artists, but hope these have provided some inspiration for you! Do any of them speak to you? Would you like us to dive deeper into any of these crafts with details, patterns, tutorials, etc.?

 

Sources

What Is Macrame? 

What Is Punch Needle?

What Is Rug Hooking? 

What Is Crewel Embroidery?

Plastic Canvas Cross Stitching 

How to Make a God's Eye 

What is Needle Felting?

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