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Monday, October 27, 2014

Garden Crafts: Making a Yarn-wrapped Vase or Bottle

Yarn-covered bottle using hand-dyed yarn (natural dye: Rabbitbush flowers)

Non-knitters often ask what they can make with the yarn they’ve dyed (http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2012/10/solar-dyeing-with-native-plant-trimmings.html).  In fact, there are a number of crafts that use colored yarns.  Making a yarn-covered vase, bottle or container is one such craft.  We like it because it’s thrifty and sustainable; you recycle containers and left-over yarn into unique vases, boxes and jars.

This is a fairly easy craft; you may have actually done it in school.  It’s a great way to use up scraps of yarn, and is a wonderful rainy day activity.  It does take a little practice, but you’ll pick up the technique quickly.   Once you have some practice, you can introduce the craft to children (we suggest 4th grade and up – and using rather thick yarn for a beginning attempt).


All that’s needed are:

  • A bottle, jar or container to cover.  Start with smaller, straight-sided ones until you get the hang of it.  Glass and cardboard are a little easier to work with than plastic (at least in our hands). Plastic, wood or cardboard ones recommended for children. 
  • White glue (Elmer’s or liquid school glue).  Use the kind that dries clear.
  • Yarn of several colors – you’ll need 10-15 yards (meters) total, depending on the size of the bottle/jar/container.  Any yarn but the fancies and very thin yarns (which are too hard to work with) will do.    Wool, acrylic, hand- or commercially dyed – or a combination – can be used.  If doing this craft with children, use the thickest yarn you have.   Acrylic yarn may be easier to work with at first - it usually stretches less than wool.

We suggest choosing several colors of yarn that you like – 3-5 colors look nice for a typical bottle or jar (see above)

  • Piece of bulky yarn or string (enough to go around the container once plus a little extra).   It’s best if the color is neutral (white, brown, gray or black) or complements the other yarns.

  • Scissors to cut the yarn.
  • Paper or a large trash bag (to protect the work surface in case of drips).
  • Small piece of plastic wrap (or a plastic bag)
  • Fixative (optional) – see step 8, below


  1. If using jars or bottles, remove paper labels (soak in warm soapy water overnight) and thoroughly wash the insides and outsides.  Be sure that the jar/bottle/container is completely dry before starting the project.
  2. Spread out paper/trash bag on the work surface. 
  3. Choose a selection of yarns that look nice together.  We suggest using yarns that are all the same thickness for your first project.  We also suggest choosing three or five colors, if possible.  Be sure that the yarns are straight, with no kinks or knots.

Foundation layer of household string

  1. Make the foundation layer

  • Spread a line of glue at the very bottom edge of the container.  Let it dry for about 1 minute.
  •  Take the bulky yarn or string and place it over the glue (to glue it in place).  Cut off any excess length and be sure that both ends are well attached (use a little extra glue if needed). 
  • Place the container right side up on the work surface.  Using the piece of plastic wrap, gently work the bulky yarn/string into place at the very bottom of the container (where the container meets the work surface).  Press the yarn/string in place, flattening it slightly against the container.  It’s important that the yarn/string is well-glued and even with the bottom of the container;  this will form the base for subsequent layers of yarn.
  • Let the foundation layer dry completely before adding color layers.
  1. Add the color layers

  • Choose the first color and lay out a straight piece that’s long enough to go around the container 3-5 times. 
  • Squeeze out a wavy ribbon of glue (a bit wider than you want your first color layer – ¾ inch is fine) just above the foundation layer. 
Spreading glue - yarn-covered vase project
  • Smooth the glue with your finger to make a thin, even coating.  Let the glue sit for about 45-60 seconds or until slightly tacky (time to wash your hands).
Wrapping yarn - yarn-covered vase project

  • Lay the yarn in place, starting just above the foundation layer and continuing around the container.  If working with wool (or other stretchy yarn) be sure you don’t stretch the yarn.  Continue to lay the yarn on the glued surface, around and around, until you run out of yarn.  Be sure both ends are firmly glued (use a little extra glue if needed).
Smoothing yarn with piece of plastic wrap
  • Using the piece of plastic wrap, gently push the yarn layers together (down) so there are no gaps where the container shows through.  Then flatten the yarn against the container surface so it adheres to the container.   You will have several minutes before the glue hardens, so take your time.  You can add a little more glue if needed. 
  • We suggest letting each layer dry for at least 30 minutes before you add the next layer.   It’s much easier to add a new layer when the one below it is dry.

  1. Continue adding color layers, following the steps above, until the container is covered.

Completed yarn-covered vase and bottle - yarn craft idea 

  1. Let the piece dry thoroughly.

8.   Spray with a fixative (optional) to make the vase/bottle/container waterproof.  If using a fixative, we suggest one of the non-toxic varieties. 

Yarn-covered vase with dried flowers: yarn is hand-dyed with natural dyes from
California native plants

We hope you enjoy this craft and that your unique new vase, bottle or box gives you years of enjoyment.    We like to use our vases with dried flowers.  The vase above has dried seed heads from Giant buckwheat (http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/08/plant-of-month-august-st-catherines.html) and flowers from Felt-leaf everlasting (http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/09/plant-of-month-september-wrights.html).




We welcome your comments, below.  If you have questions, please e- mail us at: mothernaturesbackyard10@gmail.com


1 comment:

  1. Making something like these vases would be so much fun for my kids. I love your step by step instructions, and list of all the materials you need to complete this awesome craft idea. Do you have any other unique craft ideas like this that I could do with my kids over the summer? http://www.glassvasewholesale.com/collections/unique-vases/unique-vase