How to Make Yarn Butterflies

Yarn butterflies are useful for knitting intarsia or tapestry weaving. To learn how, just follow Carol's step-by-step guide.

Carol Huebscher Rhoades Jul 29, 2020 - 2 min read

How to Make Yarn Butterflies Primary Image

In the Summer 2009 Spin.Off, Linda Ligon discussed arms and hands as yarn-wrapping tools. For small amounts (less than 5 to 6 yards), a yarn butterfly neatly arranges yarn for storage or intarsia work.

Yarn butterfly

1) With right-hand palm up, grasp yarn tail between thumb and index finger; let tail (about 9" long) hang near wrist below little finger. Bring working yarn behind index and middle fingers toward middle and ring fingers on back of hand. Form a V between middle and ring fingers and bring yarn to palm side and across ring and little fingers. making-butterflies-1

2) Wrap behind those two fingers and then back to palm side between ring and middle fingers. Wrap around middle/index fingers from palm to back of hand, through V to palm. making-butterflies-2

3) Butterfly should rest about halfway down fingers. Continue wrapping in a figure-eight path around ring/little fingers and index/middle fingers until only about 4" remain. making-butterflies-3

4) Bring working yarn tail to palm side at V and move long tail parallel to bottom of figure eight across palm. making-butterflies-4

5) Wrap short tail under all strands at center of figure eight to back of hand, securing end under beginning of wrap around center; pull to tighten; wrap around center of figure eight once more and secure. making-butterflies-5

6) To use yarn from butterfly, pull on the long tail—it should release easily. making-butterflies-6

Carol Huebscher Rhoades lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where she spins, knits, edits, and translates.