Valentine Making

I appreciate Valentine’s Day as a day, not about mindlessly giving gifts, flowers or overly complex surprises, but rather another opportunity to remember the simple and authentic gesture of giving a gift or note for no other reason than you feellike it. Sometimes, I’m in the mood, sometimes, I’m not. This year, I feel like making some gifts and showing my love.

So here is what I’m up to…

I was inspired by Reading My Tea Leaves to create a simple and useful bag to give a gift in. I used simple materials, to create a bag to hold my gifts.

Here is how I did it…

Great directions from Reading My Tea Leaves :

What you need:

+ One side of an embroidery hoop  (the one pictured is ~9-inches and works well)

+ 18-20 wooden clothes pegs for a 9” hoop (you might need a few extra if they crack while placing them on the hoop)

+ Hemp, linen, or cotton twine or string (roughly 120 yds.)

+ Scissors

+ 12-inches cotton cord/leather strap (optional)

+ Place the clothes pegs onto the perimeter of the embroidery frame. Place the pegs roughly one inch apart, and press down firmly making sure each peg fits tightly.

+ To begin, place a 20-inch tail end of the string through the center of your frame. (This will be long because it will be the handle of your bag.) Wrap the string (from the ball) twice around one of the pegs clockwise. You can wrap the tail end of the string around the bottom of a peg so it doesn’t get in your way.

+ You will then pass the bottom loop over the top loop and off the peg. Repeat to the next peg to the right, looping twice and passing the bottom loop over the top and off the peg. Repeat for the remaining pegs until you are back to the first pin with a single loop on it.

+ To begin weaving, you will not loop the string around the peg. Instead, simply bring the string in front of the peg with one loop below it.

+ Pass the bottom loop over the top string and off the peg. Repeat this technique on all the pegs, rotating the loom to the right. You will need to go around the circle many times to form the bag. The fiber will stretch significantly once off the loom. Weave in the round for 4-6 inches depending on the size you want your bag. The bag will stretch significantly once off the frame.

+ Once you reach your desired length, you will begin to cast off. Cast off starting on the same peg that you began weaving (where you can find the tail end). Cut the string, leaving a 12-inch tail.

+ Carefully slip the first loop off the pin and pass the tail end through the loop. Repeat for all the loops and pegs.

+ Pull the tail end to cinch the bottom of the bag together. Tie a few secure knots through the adjacent loops and weave the tail end into the bag.

+ To make a handle, use the tail end of the string at the start of the bag.  Connect it to the opposite side of the bag, weaving it through an available loop (or two). Bring the tail end back over to where it started and secure a knot.

+ Shape your bag and use it to package small gifts and treasures.

Along with my handmade bag, I experimented with making strawberry orange blossom preserves. The warmth of the stove and the sweetness of the aroma bubbling up from a pot of boiling sugar and fruit is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Here is my simple recipe…

Makes approximately 6 oz of jam

15 oz of frozen or fresh strawberries

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender

2 teaspoons orange blossom water

In a sauce pan, bring fruit, lemon juice, sugar and lavender to a low boil and simmer, stirring frequently until all liquid evaporates and the jam can coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Once consistency is reached, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer jam to a small jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

With a small tub of homemade jam, a bottle of some local brew, a lovely candle handmade by our Tamara Mayne of Brooklyn Candle to bring a warm glow to a cold winter day and thoughtfully written note, I was very pleased with my Valentine’s Day gift this year. All things will be used, appreciated and are meant to bring warmth and sweetness to the long stretch that is gray and cold before spring starts to emerge.

Whether these handmade and homemade gifts are given for Valentine’s Day, a house warming, or just because, I hope you find joy in creating your own useful and beautiful gifts for the ones you love.

Make Yourself
at Home

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