Friday, February 24, 2012

Yarn Balls

So glad you stopped by. This week I was busy... making a mess in our kitchen. It was all worth it though to get these beautiful baubles! I have seen little balls like this in all the catalogs lately, I have seen them in all the stores, and while I have always thought they were cute I just could never justify paying retail for them. THEN...I found a couple great tutorials at the Wednesday blog and at Frugal Home Ideas (here and here) for "Yarn Balls"  (I know I feel it's awkward to say...let me know if you have a better idea for what to call these lovely little creations in the comments section!)

I am excited about this project for two reasons. 1) I have been wanting something like this for a long time and I finally get it 2) I made use of my over yarn that I had just enough of to save but not enough to actually knit anything out of. Now it has a purpose higher than taking up scrap drawer!

NOTE: I will be doing this project again because I improved a couple of things that gave me a less than desirable finished product. I will discuss as I walk you through my process. I am here to make the mistakes so you don't have to!

What you will need:

Petroleum Jelly (i didn't have any so I used Pam cooking spray...don't make my mistake, use the jelly!)
1/4 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Carn Starch
1 5oz tube White glue (I used Tacky Glue)
If you have a friend that will help (I did it solo, I will tell you how)
Yarn (100% cotton yarn works best I learned)
Something to mix 
Wax Paper (or a plastic shower curtain or tarp if your project is lager scale)

Before you start, prepare your work space. Wednesday put a tarp down and hung the balls to dry. I used wax paper on my kitchen counter since I had a smaller project and it worked great for a work service and also for drying the glue covered balls. 

1. First blow up your balloons to the size you want. I liked varying the sizes for using them as bowl filler. Then without glue or jelly wrap you string around the balloon, this is to help you get the right length for the string. Cut the string and unwrap it.

2. Here is the step I messed up on. Wednesday instructs to cover your balloons in petroleum jelly. This is the keep the glue from sticking to the balloon and from leaving little "crusties" as I am calling them hanging on the thread when you pop the balloons. I did't have jelly and I attempted to substitute with Pam Cooking Spray...BIG MISTAKE! Should have used the jelly, I ended up with stuck balloons, crushed balls and the one that did survive had "crusties" (Look at the big brown ball in the upper right of the photo you see what I am talking about...just not a clean finish)

3. Mix your glue, cornstarch and water together. Frugal Home Ideas suggests that you use a plastic bag and place your pre-cut yarn and a squirt or two. This would be a much cleaner method than I used, unfortunately I couldn't get the bag thing to work without tangling my yarn beyond unraveling! If you have done this and have a tip, please leave it for me in the comments section!

4. Wednesday suggests having a friend to help you with this step to help feed the yarn through the feeds, ones wraps. My  husband was out washing the car, so I was on my own (although I know I have friends that would have helped...thanks for reading you guys!) I did come up with a solo technique. I coated my finger in glue and ran the yarn through them as I was wrapping. No pictures of this one kids, my hands we too messy :)

Note: Tuck the ends under the yarn as you wrap.

5. Place on wax paper to dry.

6. While messes can be fun, popping balloons is more fun. In this step, after your glue has dried, pop the balloons and pull them out, a tweezers can help grab the balloons out. This is where the importance of the petroleum jelly comes in. You already saw the "crusties" but here is my sad grey ball..all crushed, stuck and defeated... (this was left over yarn from my Gap-tastic Cowl Scarf)

In the end I ended up with some good yarn balls, "crusties" and all. I am willing to live with it for now but not forever. I will be making new ones and probably chucking the crusty ones!

I plan to make some more at some point to get it perfect and because as imperfect as they may be I still love the look and I have more bowls to fill. Before I do though...

... I would love to hear from you. Have you taken on a project like this before? Whether you have or you haven't...Do you have any tips, tricks, or suggestions that I should use for next time? I will take all of them into consideration and when I post on my redo I will mention any that I used!


  1. Love it! I tried these last year (a lot!) and ended up with just the deflated mess like one you posted, except mine was much worse! You've motivated me to try again!

    1. Thank you, I am glad to know i am not the only one! Let me know how your turn out the second time around!

  2. Hi! Found you from the Spring Craft Link Party! I have not tried anything like this but love that you showed us this! I'm big on showing and telling about the mistakes I make because so many times I try people's ideas and it's a huge fail and I wonder what I did wrong and why everyone else can do things perfectly the first time. It took me a while to figure out they probably didn't and only posted what worked! I'm definitely going to check back and see how you've perfected this because I want to make some!!

    1. Thanks for the affirmation. If someone else can learn from something I did wrong then I want to share it. So much of this is figuring things out by screwing up, so I like my process to be an open book!

    2. And I look forward to seeing you again when I take another stab at it!

  3. These look great! I found you at Kate's party and now I'm following you-stop on by for a visit!

  4. Hi, an idea came to me as I read and viewed your article, which by the way I love!!! ; Red and green yarn balls for Christmas tree deco would be awesome! One would need to use a glue type that dried clear so as not to fade down the yarn colouring though :)

    1. That's a great idea! As I was reading your comment I also thought it would be pretty to have silver and gold yarn for decoration. Thanks for the idea!