Introduction: Steering Wheel Art Installation

About: Like Birdz of a Feather, let's flock together to create sustainably. After all, good planets are hard to find! We're a husband/wife team that takes our inspiration from everything around us; especially things …

Before you start wondering why I'd upcycle a steering wheel and mount it on my wall, it all started with a simple question 'What’s on your bucket list?' That's how this whole story began.


You will need:

  • Yarn in white, red and green,
  • A pair of scissors
  • Crochet hooks (4.5 mm & 1 mm).

I got my yarn at the dollar store. It's a medium weight and weighs 70g each. As you can see in the last picture above, I have a nasty habit of sitting on my hooks and bending them out of shape. But I found a spare; start with the 4.5 mm crochet hook and use the 1 mm hook to help hide and ends. If you're making this for an actual car, you'll also need some fine elastic thread.

Step 1: ​The Story Behind This Upcycle

You can skip to the 'Ible below or read the story about what inspired this project. In 2008 a show called ‘The List’ was starting to cast for its second season. This List was all about giving participants the opportunity to scratch something off their bucket list. Hubs and I were driving in his old beater – a VW Rabbit – when he brought the show to my attention. The conversation started with ‘What’s on your bucket list?' The first thing that came to mind was to crush his car.

Hubs' car was literally falling apart and the only thing holding it together was duct tape. Back when we were dating, on our very second date, Hub’s door swung wide open on the highway as the car leaned into the curve of the off-ramp. It was almost our last date. The force of gravity was not a friend to this car! As it turned out, neither was I.

Hubs thought the whole notion of crushing his car was funny. ‘If you can get on the show', he said, 'go right ahead and crush my car.' He probably never gave it another thought after that conversation. But you see, once I get something in my head I’m determined to make it happen.

So, if you haven’t guessed by now, I got onto the show! But I had to keep it a secret.

The day the crew and I stole his car from the parking lot where Hubs worked was comedy of errors. The fire alarm went off, and as people streamed outside I was sure Hubs would be amongst them. I thought it was game over. Thankfully Hubs was not amongst the crowd and no one even gave us a second glance. Then, as the host and I were making our getaway, the muffler fell off! I was holding my breath all the way to the wrecking yard hoping we'd make it there with most of the pieces intact (both us AND the car).

After arriving at the wrecking yard, the host returned to the scene of the crime to kidnap Hubs. He was treated to a nice warm limo ride as I waited for him to arrive, shivering in the cold. When Hubs got there and saw the car ready to crush, I don't know what his first thoughts were. But I had a job to do and it involved pushing a button (who could resist a temptation like that?). Soon after the crushing deed was done, the host surprised us with a commemorative plaque bearing the steering wheel from the car (2nd pic above). Isn’t it a hoot?

Step 2: Inspiration

It's been 12 years since I crushed the car so it was high time to turn this remembrance of our little adventure into an art piece. Unless your bucket list is as weird as mine, you probably don't have a steering wheel to hang on your wall. This project would make a great Spring steering wheel cover for the one you probably still have in your car 😉.

Since tulips are one of the first signs of Spring, let's make it a Tulip Cozy! I love the vibrance of red tulips against green foliage, don't you?

Step 3: Terminology

  • St(s) – stich / stiches
  • SC – single crochet
  • DC – Double crochet
  • Sl st – slip stitch
  • * * – repeat what is in between the asterisks
  • YO – yarn over

To Start
Measure the outside diameter of your steering wheel. Mine is 47 1/2″. Also measure around the thickness of the wheel (mine is 3 1/2").

Chain enough stitches to go around the steering wheel.

A few things to note:

  1. If you are making this for an art installation as I did, you must stretch your chain slightly as you go around the wheel. I didn’t do that on my first attempt and it turned out 9" too big. For my second (successful) attempt, I chained 156 stitches but you may need more or less depending on the size of your wheel. Keep in mind that you need to stick with multiples of 3 stitches – so round up or down accordingly.
  2. If you are making this as a steering wheel cover for your car, don't worry if it ends up being a little too big. That’s ok; in lieu of sewing this onto the wheel (which would be awkward since it’s attached the car!), weave thin elastic thread through the mesh. Then you can slip the cover on and the elastic will help hold it on.

Step 4: Rows 1 & 2

Create a slip knot and tighten onto hook. Chain 156 sts.

Ch 1. SC into first st and to end of row. Chain 2 and turn your work.

The 4th pic shows a closeup of the single crochet sts.

When the row is complete, double check your measurement around the circumference of the steering wheel again.

TIP: it’s tricky to measure with only one set of hands, so I use hair clips to help hold it to the steering wheel!

Step 5: Row 3

SC into 1st st. *Ch 2, skip a st, SC into next st.* Repeat from *. This will create an open mesh which will come in handy when it’s time to attach this to the wheel. CH 2, turn work.

Step 6: Row 4

1 DC into each st and 1 DC into each space to end of row. CH 2, turn work.

Step 7: Row 5

SC across row. Before completing the SC last stitch, YO and change yarn to green. Bring it through the two loops on hook as shown in 2nd & 3rd pics. CH 4, turn work (last pic).

Note: if you look really closely at my finished piece, you'll see I did SC, CH1, skip st, SC to create a smaller version of the mesh st. However, it's not really necessary, so I've changed my pattern for row 5 to simply SC.

Step 8: Row 6

DC in first st (yo, insert hook, pull through – 3 loops on hook, yo and pull through 2 st, yo and pull through 2 st). *Skip 2 sts, DC, CH 2, do another DC in SAME st.* This creates the ‘V’. Repeat * across row.

At the end of row, DC in last st. Chain 2. Do another DC in last st. Before completing the DC, change colour to red and pull through last 2 sts. This is for the petals of the tulip.

CH 2, turn work.

Before we move onto Row 7, there are two ways you can do the tulip and I’m going to show you how to do both in the next few steps. You can decide which way you want to do them.

For my project (as you’ll see in the reveal), I used flat tulips where the steering wheel meets the column because I wanted them to lie flat across those sections. I used raised tulips for the remainder. Now that the project is complete, I think it would have been fine to do them all raised.

Step 9: The Tulip: Two Ways

Shown above are two examples of how to do the tulip petals. One is flat and the other stands proud, giving it a 3-D effect.

Step 10: Flat Tulip

The flat tulip is done with a stitch called 5C together in every CH 2 space (as opposed to 5 separate DCs) as follows:

In CH 2 space, YO, insert hook, YO, pull through, YO, pull through 2 (2 sts on hook).

YO, insert hook, YO, pull through, YO, pull through 2 (3 sts on hook).

YO, insert hook, YO, pull through, YO, pull through 2 (4 sts on hook; not shown).

YO, insert hook, YO, pull through, YO, pull through 2 (5 sts on hook).

YO, insert hook, YO, pull through, YO, pull through 2 (6 sts on hook).

Pull through all 6 loops on hook at same time. CH 2. One flat tulip done. Repeat in next CH 2 space.

Step 11: ​Raised Tulip

For the raised tulip 5 DC in each CH 2 space.

Remove the crochet hook and insert it to where my finger is pointing in the 1st pic. Then put the dropped st back onto the hook as shown in 3rd pic.

YO and pull through all loops on hook. This brings the two sides together and turns it into a ‘bobble’ stitch.

NOTE: I used a combination of flat and raised tulips for my project as shown in the last pic (5 tulips are flat where it meets the column on both sides of the wheel but the rest of the tulips are raised). For simplicity, the following directions are for a flat tulips. However, you have directions for both styles now, so you can choose whichever you prefer!

Step 12: Row 7

For first tulip only, DC only 4 into the first CH 2 green space instead of 5 (4 DC together). CH 2. Note that when we get to the end of the row, we’ll attach the two ends together by adding a 5th DC in this space.

For the remainder of the row 5 DC together in CH 2 space (*yo, insert hook, yo, pull through, yo, pull through 2* (2 sts on hook). CH 2. At the end of the row, join your work to the first tulip in the row by adding a DC to the 4 DCs you started the row with. This will bring the circle together. From this point forward, we’ll work in the round. As you did before, change the yarn colour – this time to white again.

The second picture shows a closeup of the join and colour change. Conceivably, you could crochet this entire project in the round. If I were to make this again, I would probably do that to save a step in sewing up the seam.

Step 13: Row 8

SC all around (2 SC in each space and 1 SC in tulip).

Sl st to 1st st. Add a marker if you like but I didn’t find it necessary. CH 2. Now that the work is connected, instead of turning as we did on previous rows, we’re going to continue in the round.

Step 14: Row 9

CH 2, DC all around back to the beginning. Sl st to 1st st (the CH 2).

Step 15: ​Row10

We’re going to do another row of mesh again. CH 1, SC into 1st st. *Ch 2, skip a st, SC into next st.* Repeat from *. At end of row, sl st to join.

Step 16: ​Row 11

Ch 1. *SC in next st, SC in space.* Repeat to end. Sl st, but leave skein of yarn attached. We’re going to use this yarn to crochet the cozy onto the steering wheel.

Stitch together the open seam below the tulips on the wrong side of work using the tail ends of each colour. Use a crochet hook or large-eye yarn needle.

Still on the inside, hide the tail ends.

The next to last pic shows how it looks on the right side.

Now it’s ready to attach to the steering wheel (last pic).

If you’re making this for an actual car, at this point you can weave elastic through the mesh on the top and bottom edges and pop it onto your steering wheel. The elastic allows you to remove the cozy whenever it needs to be washed.

Since this is going onto a wall and I don’t intend to remove it, I’m going to show you how to attach it onto the steering wheel permanently. Once again, you can use the hair clips to help hold the cozy onto the wheel for the next step.

Step 17: Attach Cozy to Wheel

My trick to line the edges up properly is to count the same number of sts on the top and bottom edges and place bobby pins. Then I cut lengths of a contrasting colour of yarn (in this case green) and slip knot the two edges together – once it’s on the wheel. This will hold it temporarily onto the wheel so can you bring the two edges together and crochet along the seam.

I positioned the cozy onto the wheel to the left of where it attaches to the column and turned the wheel upside down (2nd pic). Insert the crochet hook through a stitch in the bottom and then the top edge. SC all the way along the seam until you come to the next column on the opposite side of the wheel. There, I ended the yarn and then reattached it on the other side.

Continue closing the seam with SC sts. it should look like the 3rd pic once the first section is closed. Remember those mesh stitches we created? You can see that they expand to help the crochet stretch as you bring the two edges together and work your way around.

When you come to a green thread, simply remove the bobby pins, then the slip knot and continue on.

Once you’re back around on the right side of the column, you’re done! Cut the yarn and knot it. Hide the end.

Flip it over.

Step 18: Ready to Hang

So what do you think? Did I crush this challenge?

Initially we hung it in our hallway near the front door. I was thinking about adding some hooks either side of the metal plate to hang our car keys. But then I moved it into our upper stairway and added the gas cap and two of the insignias from the car. I love how the red in the crochet picks up on the red in the 'A'. The letter A is symbolic of renewal and I like to think this upcycle redeems the car in some small way 😉.

If you like this project, let me know by sending a vote my way in the Yarn Speed Challenge!

Get your craft mojo on at Birdz of a Feather and subscribe! You can also follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Yarn Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Yarn Speed Challenge