So, you know how you see those giant tapestries of woven yarn and fabric and think, “Ohhh, man, maybe I could make that,” and then you count the hours it would take to weave it from scratch in your head and think, “Ehhh, never mind…”? Well, if you’ve ever had the itch to create your own oversized tapestry, but didn’t want to commit a giant chunk of time to making one, then this is the tapestry hack for you! I noticed that a lot of the large weavings I saw had a ton of different colors and lengths of yarn woven into a relatively plain colored background, so I thought that maybe I could start with a background that was already woven and just tie the layers of yarn into the existing weave. I tested a few layers on a woven leather rug, and it totally worked!
-2′ x 3′ woven rug (you’ll need one that’s a larger weave, big enough that you can get a small crochet hook through)
-small crochet hook
-yarn of several widths, colors, and textures
-dowl rod and string for hanging
So, to complete your tapestry, you are basically going to make a bunch of rows of knotted yarn like you see in the photo above. Building lots of rows of different colors and textures on top of each other will give the woven-tapestry feel.
To insert your yarn into your rug, you’ll cut your first color of yarn into strands that are twice as long as you want them to hang (that way, when they are folded in half they will be just right). Following the sequence above, first insert your hook downward into a horizontal loop in the rug. With your strand of yarn folded in half, hook the yarn around the hook (closer to the open side of your folded yarn) and pull the yarn halfway through to the other side. When the yarn is halfway through, pull the two yarn ends at the top through the loop at the bottom, and pull the ends until the loop is tight against the rug. That’s it! Just keep making these knots as close together as you can all the way across that horizontal row until you want to stop and start a new row somewhere else.
I tried to think out the different areas of the tapestry in chunks of different colors and textures. Once I had a large section (like the yellow or the orange area), I would start to layer on top of it with a smaller or larger texture and an opposite color scheme (like a cool color on top of a warm color) to really make them stand out from each other. Also, I made all the sections a little longer than I thought I would want so I would have some length to play with when it came time to trim where the different sections overlap. So don’t worry too much about how long your sections are at this stage. Just focus on the color and texture placement and make sure to leave plenty of room at the top of your woven rug to be folded over to create a pocket for hanging.
Once you have all your yarn in place, fold back the top 3″ or so of your rug to make the pocket for the hanging rod (like how the top of a curtain has a pocket for the rod it hangs from). Depending on what kind of rug you chose, you may be able to run the folded edge through your sewing machine to secure it, or if it’s thicker (like my rug), you can simply use a needle and thin yarn to hand sew straight across the top of the rug to create the pocket.
I chose a 1″ dowl for the hanging rod and cut it to the appropriate length (it sticks out about 3-4″ on either side). Then I took a drill and drilled a hole through the dowl on each side (about 1″ in from each end). This hole is what you’ll tie your hanging string through, so choose a drill bit that’s big enough for whatever string you want to use.
Since a tapestry of this size is a little bit heavier than a smaller weaving, you’ll want a string or yarn that will hold the weight (I chose a leather string for mine). I painted my dowl rod black, threaded the leather string through the holes, and then tied the string in a knot on the other side.
All I could think to myself as I did this step was the line from the old SNL sketch with Tracy Morgan (as the animal enthusiast Brian Fellows) where he meets a porcupine and says, “That rat needs a haircut!” I love that sketch, so I just chuckled the line to myself the whole time I was cutting like an idiot.
Anyways, this is the part where you get to clean up the ends of your yarn groupings. You’ll want to decide which groups to cut into angled ends or straight ends, and which (if any) you want to leave as is. I liked having some that were obviously cut and some that weren’t, but you can do whatever you like.
It only took me about 3 hours to create this whole thing from start to finish. Not bad for a giant tapestry! And since there’s really only one simple step to attach the yarn, it doesn’t require a lot of concentration, and you can even work on it watching a few of your favorite movies or shows. Are you up for creating your own giant tapestry? xo. Laura