Rory only recently realized how cheap yarn is when you buy in bulk
February 24, 2011 6:53 PM   Subscribe

I want to cover a room with yarn, including ceiling and floor. How can I best estimate how much yarn this will take? And are there methods of attaching vast amounts of yarn to walls that will make it easy to remove when I eventually have to?
posted by Rory Marinich to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you could figure out how much you would need by finding the wraps per inch (this is usually listed for weaving yarns and for other yarns you can just wrap it around a ruler). Then you know how many strands of yarn it would take to make an inch-wide stripe in your wall.
posted by mskyle at 7:02 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, you could start by covering a one foot by one foot piece of card stock or plywood with the yarn of your choice (make sure it is the same weight as the yarn for the final project, and try to be consistent with the tension/arrangement as you lay it out—you can't lay out your test patch by gluing down parallel rows and then do swirls or a knitted texture for the whole room). Weigh the skein before and after using the yarn to cover the test patch. If the test patch consumes, for example, 50% of the skein, then you need one skein for every two square feet of wall/ceiling/floor. Measure the square footage of the room and calculate accordingly.

You didn't ask about safety or practicality, but if you actually do this project in a living space, please pick a yarn and adhesive that are resistant to flame. House fire = bad; sheets of burning stuff accelerating the spread of the fire and peeling off the ceiling and walls to fall on any occupants = extra bad.
posted by Orinda at 7:06 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

What about buying some thick plain wallpaper? I think special super thick wallpaper is made, specifically to cover panelling or highly textured walls. Put up the wallpaper, then Elmer glue on the yarn. When you need to take it down, just remove the paper. Actually, you might be able to simply nail the paper up in a few places, if yarn covers all. Hmm.
posted by Malla at 7:07 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

You should swatch. Work up a small amount of yarn, say 12in x 12in, then weigh it and measure how much yarn it took to cover that, and multiply by how much area you need to cover.

Do you mean you want to cover it with knitted (or crocheted or woven) fabric, or with a single strand of yarn, or with balls (or skeins or hanks) of yarn?

Is it going to be the same yarn throughout, or a mix? Do you need the yarn to be unharmed post-installation?

I like the wallpaper + glue idea, if you don't need the yarn back unharmed, and if it needs to stay up for a while. But if you want the yarn to still be yarn later, I could see several cup hooks screwed in near the ceiling, with fishing line strung between them, supporting the yarn/fabric. Wool will be lighter by volume than, say, cotton.
posted by mgar at 7:17 PM on February 24, 2011

Please make sure that it's not flammable if you plan on having it up for any length of time.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:19 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


— I'm not sure how I want it covered. I figured I would order balls and then come up with a way to drape it cleanly everywhere. Something that'll make it stick, though.
— It'll be a mix of yarn, but probably ordered from the same place. Post-installation I figure it won't be touched too much, except the floor yarn which will be stepped on excessively.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:51 PM on February 24, 2011

In order to estimate how much yarn is required, you need to decide whether you are going to drape it cleanly along the walls or knit a swath of fabric to cover the walls. You will need considerably more yarn for the second option. In terms of knit vs crochet, crochet will be faster but will use the most yarn of all methods.
posted by pintapicasso at 9:04 PM on February 24, 2011

You could thumbtack sheets of contact paper to the walls and floors with the sticky-side facing up. It used to come in many exciting colors and patterns at Dollar Tree. If not, I'm sure Wal-mart will have it.
posted by fernabelle at 9:57 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

That sounds really really time-consuming, since each strand is so skinny. Would you be open to knitting the yarn into fabric first? Not by hand, of course - you can get a cheapo knitting machine like The Sweater Machine ($160 new, try Craigslist or eBay for used even cheaper) and crank out yardage pretty quickly. While knitting machines can be complex and fascinating tools, you don't need a serious machine for your purpose; this Mickey Mouse plastic contraption will suffice.

The knitted fabric could be attached to the walls more quickly and easily than strands of yarn, too - you could tack it here and there with small nails, and pull it off in a jiffy.

To calculate how much yarn you'd need, knit a square of known size (bigger = more accurate), weigh it, then calculate grams per square foot (or whatever). Calculate how much wall area you need to cover, then figure out how many grams of yarn it will take. Knitted fabric is flexible and you can stretch it if your estimate was a little too low.
posted by Quietgal at 10:13 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could attach drywall corner bead to the corners of the room, then lace the yarn back and forth across the walls and through the holes. Then you wouldn't need to attach the yarn directly to the walls with glue or whatever. Paint the corner bead to match the wall color first.
posted by orme at 5:52 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

This should work on the ceiling as well, btw.
posted by orme at 5:52 AM on February 25, 2011

Considering the apartment-hacker's tip that's recently come into fashion, of starching fabrics to the wall (and there's surely many better links than that, I just picked one off google), I don't see why starch wouldn't work as an attachment method for yarn, too.

Alternately, a combo of a fabric print with yarn overlay might be really interesting, too, and the starch would hold them both up.
posted by aimedwander at 6:06 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have nothing to add to this except that I originally read that as "I want to cover a room with yam", and was disappointed that this thread turned out not to be quite as surreal as it might have been.
posted by mhoye at 6:33 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming this is for artistic purposes and not for sound-dampening? If it's for sound, using a knitting machine to create big panels of fabric will give you better results.

Also, what kind of yarn have you found in bulk? Acrylic yarns (the kind you get at the craft store) will wear more durably on the floor, but I'd knit or crochet the floor covering to reduce the footfall abrasion.
posted by catlet at 8:01 AM on February 25, 2011

In terms of fire safety, acrylic yarn will melt very easily. However, they are cheaper if this isn't actually a living space.
posted by mippy at 9:15 AM on February 25, 2011

I have done something similar to this with brightly colored strands of merino wool roving. It looked awesome and cushy and delightful. I highly recommend it.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:47 AM on February 25, 2011

Oh, and I just used thumbtacks (one at the top and one at the bottom). They left tiny holes which would be easily repairable with a simple coat of paint at most if you are concerned about them. Alternatively, you could use thin nails to very minimally attach a thin strip of wood at the top and bottom of the wall. Then attach the wool to the strips of wood however you want, making sure not to go through the wood into the wall. Then just carefully remove the wood strips when you are done and you're good. The nice part of that is that the yarn (or roving) strips will remain intact if you want to move the whole thing to a different location later.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:51 AM on February 25, 2011

This is kind of a combo between orme and thegreatfleecircus suggestions. A friend of mine did something similar with one wall. He used a 12' Long by 2" wide piece of cheap wood molding and nailed trim nails every inch or so. He then used two screws to attach the molding to the top, bottom, and sides of the wall. Then he just randomly weaved the yarn around the nails. After a few hours and a few dozen skeins of yarn it looked like a 3D Jackson Pollock painting. When he moved and had to take it down, he only had 8 small holes to fill from where the screws were removed.
posted by swizzlepants at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

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