Friday, February 11, 2011

Who Hearts Looping?

Here's a basic technique description of how to use simple looping with a hint of freeform shaping to make a quick fiber Valentine. If I waited until I had time to make a perfect tutorial, this would never get posted. Since love is seldom perfect and Valentine's Day is Monday, I decided to post it anyway for anyone who wants to play with it over the weekend.

New Age Looping heart pin

These instructions assume you have some basic skills and vocabulary. If you don't, well, make something up and it will probably work. This is a very intuitive process. Trust me. Better yet, trust you. You might also want to review my basic looping video on You Tube, although it uses a wrapped base cord anchor instead of the needle chain.
Needle chain base cord
To begin, make a short needle chain. I made my hearts from the Ruby Slippers color of Jade Sapphire's 100% silk, a bulky weight yarn. My hearts began with a 3-link chain. Your mileage may vary. Pull the last link into a knot to secure the chain.

Looping into the base chain
Flip the chain over (turn it like the page of a book) and begin looping into the links of the chain.

Needle chain increase

At the end of the first row (looped into the needle chain base), work another link or two of needle chain to make a linear increase. Those of you who've had me in classes might remember the concept of bachelor stitches -- they're unattached for a while, but we link up with them eventually.

After making the needle chain increase, flip the piece again. (Make a flip turn at the end of every row.)

Shape begins to develop

Work into the needle chain linear increase and continue across the row.

Shaping the first half of the heart.
To shape the heart, make needle chain increases or skip stitches as necessary at the end of the rows.

Reorient regularly to see how heart shape develops.
After every row, temporarily reorient the piece and look at the shape. Trust your eyes to tell you when to use the needle chain increase and how long it should be, or when to skip a stitch to produce the heart shape. If your heart is a bit wonky, it will have that much more charm.

Thread added with trapped tail method
Working the heart sideways, so to speak, positions the piece for my normal stitching orientation. But reorient the piece on every row to check the shape.

Almost there.
When the basic shape is complete, reorient your hold to work an outline row in your normal stitching direction.
Reorient the hold to work an outline row.
You'll notice in the photo above that there's an extra tail next to the working thread. I left a long tail when I added thread, and worked over that thread core to beef up the outer edge.

Outline almost complete.
At this point you can finish off and be done.

Making the heart 3D.
I chose instead to make my hearts three-dimensional. Just continue stitching the outline, skipping stitches as needed to decrease.
Cheating Heart
Here's one small cheat that might help you with shaping on a 3D piece: To keep the cleft from filling in, pick up a stitch on the back side of the front, deeper in the body of the piece.

Who hearts looping now?
To complete the piece, stuff it with a bit of wool fleece and sew on a pin back.

If you'd like to learn more, these techniques are covered in my book New Age Looping, which is available in my Etsy shop. This specific project is not covered in the book.

Three of the kids whose heights are recorded on my studio doorframe are coming for the weekend, so I'll be playing with them and away from the internet. If you have a question over the weekend, you might try posting it on the Facebook New Age Looping Study Group page.  Or, as I said before, make something up. We've all done that at some point, and when it works we just call it a "variation."

I bought the red silk yarn I'm using at The Knitting Tree in Madison last winter, and love it for this project. But this is a great way to use up odds and ends, too. I used some of the indigo-dyed cotton yarn from my freeform looping vest project to make a heart for myself using a couple of variations.

When you "like" the Facebook page you can post pictures there. If you heart looping, I'd love to see!

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