Uses for scrap yarn: stitched cards (with tutorial)

This past weekend was Mother’s Day in the US, and I celebrated by making her a card:

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If you’re like me and you knit a lot, you probably accumulate a lot of short lengths of leftover yarn. If it’s more than a couple of inches, I feel like I just have to save it. It would be a waste to throw it out, right? Of course, then I have to figure out what to do with all those short lengths of yarn. I’ve been known to use them as stitch markers, stuffing for knit toys, and last summer, I even put some of my leftover yarn collection to use tying up tomato plants in my garden. All of which is well and good. But these stitched cards are, I think, an especially nice use of that yarn, because they actually show the yarn off to good advantage. The yarn is the star, not some hidden support.

So, today, I’ll walk you through the process I used to make this card. First, I pulled out my colored pencils, a piece of 11×14″ heavy-duty sketch paper folded into quarters, my bag of yarn scraps, and a sewing needle. I decided I wanted to make an image of daffodils, so I googled “daffodil sketch” and decided on this image. I traced the image on the front quarter of my 11×14″ paper:

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Note that if you are a good artist or drawing a less complicated image, you probably don’t need to have a picture to trace from. If you do need to go looking for an image, I highly recommend copying a sketch or cartoon style image, rather than a photograph. Sketches will typically show the lines you need to copy more clearly.

Once you have your outline, break out the colored pencils and fill in the color:

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Next, get ready to stitch. For a detailed image like this, I separated a worsted weight yarn into four plies, and threaded a single ply onto the sewing needle at a time. You can use thicker yarns if you are making a less detailed image.

Use your needle to prick holes around the outline of the piece. Be careful not to place the holes too close together! Unfortunately, “too close” varies significantly with the weight of your paper and yarn, so I can’t give a precise spacing guideline. The thicker your yarn (or the thinner your paper), the further apart your holes should be. I like to prick a small section at a time, stitch it, and then prick the next section:

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When stitching, keep the 3-d nature of the card in mind. Stitch parts of the image that you want to be in the “back” first, and then work your way to the “front”. So in this case, I stitched the green stems, then the yellow flowers.

You can use this technique for all sorts of different images, from simple to complex. Here’s a sampling of cards I made last year for Valentine’s day, to give you some ideas:

Hearts and flowers (50 crafts #5 and #6)

embroidered V-day cards

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