A Heart For You

I have my Spin-Off 2010 Calendar hanging right next to my desk; the image for February is one I put together for the calendar when we designed it last summer.

February is a fun month for our family because we have a lot of birthdays to celebrate—and to top it off, my mom's birthday is on Valentine's Day. She always made it a special holiday for our family when I was growing up—decking out the house with paper hearts and doilies, heart-shaped cookies, dishes filled with candied hearts.

For this reason, I've always loved depicting hearts—at the bottom of this collage is a heart I made using a rug-punch needle, a bit of handspun yarn, and scrap of cochineal-dyed woven cloth I made years ago when I was doing a lot of natural dyeing. Just seeing the image brings back the heady aroma of the dyepot and the nervous anticipation I felt while waiting to see what colors it would yield. Would they be as I envisioned?

Speaking of natural dyes, I've just posted a call for entries for natural dyed swatches of handspun yarn-the results will be featured in the Fall 2010 issue of Spin-Off. We'd love to see your naturally dyed yarns and fabric swatches!

I don't know if I ever envisioned that I'd use those scraps of handwoven cloth and leftover yarn to make a simple heart, but I know I saved them for a reason. This heart is now one of the decorations that I set out in our house as we get ready to celebrate Valentine's Day—my decorations for the holiday involve a lot more yarn than my mom's. Are you surprised?

 

Make your own needle-punch heart

Supplies

– 1 Oxford rug needle.

– 2-ply handspun wool yarn, 14 wraps per inch (wpi).

– 10 x 10 inch piece of handwoven cloth (10/2 pearl cotton warp, handspun wool weft singles about 20 wpi).

– Embroidery hoop.

– Sharpie pen.

With the sharpie, lightly trace a heart shape on the wrong side of the fabric. Thread yarn into Oxford rug needle following instructions provided with the needle. Place fabric in embroidery hoop—make sure design fits within the hoop. With the wrong side facing up and a 2-inch tail pulled to the right side (to be trimmed later), begin needle punching, following the outline of the heart. Keep the open side of the needle facing the direction you are moving with the thread. Space the loops close together. If the yarn slips out of the fabric easily, then try using a yarn with a heavier grist than the recommended 14 wpi. I found that a woolen-spun wool yarn worked best for making nice puffy loops. When you've finished, trim the beginning and end of the yarn to match the height of the loops and give it to your sweetheart.

—Amy

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