Ah... February! The month that would be otherwise incredibly dreary (just look out the window... unless of course you're somewhere on the Southern Hemisphere or near the equator) if it weren't for Valentine's Day. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't exactly celebrate Valentine's Day in the typical sense, that being something special between me and my spouse, expecting flowers, gifts, that sort of thing. Here, we make it a family and friends thing. We'll be going to a Valentine's Day playdate, likely order pizza for dinner, little gifts for each of the family members, and usually I like to buy myself a plant of some sort (probably an orchid this year). Before having kids, my husband and I would usually plan some sort of "together" gift, either something we would both enjoy or an adventure. For example, the year prior to having our first child we went snowboarding (it was his first time, my second). If you take control of the holiday and make it about spending time with the people you love and showing them how much you love them, it feels a lot less like a hallmark holiday and no chance of being let down.
That being said, my daughter was incredibly sad that I had to take the Christmas tree down, which I finally did a week ago. Normally it would've come down sooner. I promised her that there are other holidays for which we can decorate, like upcoming Valentine's Day! She was so excited at the thought of getting to stick hearts all over the house that I was finally able to take the last of the Christmas decorations down without much of a fuss. So, as promised, I made a heart garland (or is it bunting?), which now hangs over the doorway to our beloved arts & crafts room (formerly our dining room), and I thought I'd share this fun and easy craft project with you with plenty of time to make your own before the 14th. Yes, it is needle felted! How'd you guess ;)
For this project you'll want to use a coarse wool in the colors of your choosing (we went with red and pink) and 38-gauge needles. I do not recommend using merino or other fine wool. First we're going to start by felting large hearts (at least the size of the palm of your hand). There are many ways you can do this, such as using a cookie cutter or a template - both of which will help you keep them a uniform shape/size - however I'll show you another trick that also works, especially if you don't mind them being a little different.
First you're going to grab a length of wool, about 10-12 inches.
Next you're going to fold the ends in halfway.
Fold it into a V shape and there's your heart! Go ahead and start stabbing! If you end up with any bad creases or holes in your felt, just grab a bit of extra wool and cover it.
Once you have the basic shape down, work on smoothing the edges out by stabbing in sideways (as in the picture above) so you end up with a nice, smooth, rounded edge. Also, don't forget to flip your piece over a few times and stab on both sides. You want to make sure you can't tell the difference from back and front. You should end up with hearts that are about 1/4" thick.
Watch out for little hands who are ready to steal your heart(s). Literally.
For my garland I ended up making nine hearts, three in each color. You can probably get away with less if you want more space between them, especially for a narrow doorway. The doorway I hung mine in is well over three feet wide. Before I go any further, there are plenty of other things you can do with these, especially since once you get the hang of it, they're really quick to knock out. I could get at least a couple done in an hour, and that's including occasional interruptions such as the aforementioned chasing babies stealing my hearts (sorry, had to squeeze that pun in there again). They would make a great valentine! Cut a smaller heart out of card stock for the note, hole punch it and tie them together. Or you could attach a ribbon to it and tie it around a new coffee mug to surprise your sweetheart on Valentine's day. Or make a bunch and hide them around the house for a little family scavenger hunt. The possibilities are endless.
If you're going to go the garland route, it's time to go cupid on these felt hearts. They should be thick enough and soft enough to thread it right through the middle. Unfortunately I could not figure out how to take a picture of myself doing this, but what you do is push the needle through, using one hand to guide the needle, then pinching and pushing it with the other hand. It's similar to threading a ribbon or string through casing like with a drawstring bag. If this is too difficult, you can always lay the thread across the heart, take a bit of wool (in the same color as the heart) and felting over the thread. If you're using something thick such as baker's twine that might be easier to do. I just used a thin sewing thread for mine.
And there you go! A quick and easy garland done in a matter of a few hours, just in time to make your home a bit more Valentine's Day ready. And who knows, maybe it'll work as a reminder to your loved one that yes, the 14th is approaching and yes, you do plan to celebrate it.