The tree? Well, it was love at first sight. I saw it here at Bronner’s and I wanted it: the love child of a 1950s aluminum tree and a German feather tree. Priced at only $16.99.
But I have a rule. I have to know what I’m going to do with something and where I’m going to put it in my small house before I buy it. However … there are exceptions to every rule … and I decided this was one of them.
I bought the last one we had left in December. Noah, our tree buyer, assured me that the little beauties would be available again for 2019 and he would be reordering. Because before I take my shiny sliver of happiness home, I want to share some ideas with you for decorating it.
Esther Beatenhead, my paternal grandmother, married into a farm family, the Kramers, established in the mid 1860s in tiny Unionville, Michigan. Grandma quilted and knit and stitched and baked and gathered eggs and tackled the multitude of other tasks that fall to a farmer’s wife . Each year at Christmas I take out the beaded felt ornaments and decorations she made I-don’t-know-how-many years ago and my memories as a child on the farm stir like warm embers in the fire.
So I wanted to bring some handmade, light-weight lovely little ornaments to my tree for Valentine’s Day, inspired by Grandma’s handiwork so many years ago. Part of the joy in these handicrafts is how inexpensive the materials are. In fact, you might find you have many of the items already tucked away in your treasure trove.
Take the yarn hearts, for instance. All you need is cardboard, yarn and scissors.
- Fold the cardboard in half and cut yourself a 3 to 3 1/2-inch tall half-heart. Then cut a smaller half-heart out of the center, leaving about a half-inch of cardboard intact along the outside. Be sure to use a little thicker cardboard so the heart will still hold its shape when opened. If you’d rather not fold your cardboard in half, you can always cut out the heart shape on flat cardboard. You may want to use a paper heart for your pattern and a mat knife to cut out the inner heart. Snip the top center and bottom center points of the cardboard heart slightly to flatten them just a little and make wrapping the yarn easier.
- Wrap 12 to 15 feet of yarn end to end on a ruler. Snip and begin rolling the yarn into a small ball. Repeat this two or three times to prepare enough yarn to cover one cardboard heart. Begin wrapping the yarn around the heart. Don’t worry about covering all the cardboard the first time around. You just want to get flat coverage; you can fill in any spaces the second time around. Keep in mind that you want to finish at the top center of the heart. Leave a loose 3-inch-long loop of yarn at the top center of the heart. Make another half-loop, but instead of finishing it, snip the yarn at the length of the first loop. Tie off the loop and the single strand with a double knot. Trim the single length of yarn off at the knot and use the loop to hang your yarn heart.
Spider-like pompoms compliment the light, airy feel of this tree and are simple to make.
- Wrap yarn around a 2 1/2-inch strip of cardboard several times. For a fuller pompom, wrap more; for a spider-like pompom, wrap less.
- Slip a 4-inch length of yarn through one end of the wrap, pull tightly and knot it. Snip the yarn at the other end.
- Tie the pompom onto a tree branch and fluff/shape.
Felt Heart Ornaments
Felt is lightweight and comes in a large variety of colors, making it a great candidate for ornament-making. I chose to make heart-shaped ornaments for my Valentine tree, using regular scissors and pinking shears to switch up the edges a bit.
- Again, you can cut out your hearts free hand or use a paper pattern.
- Choose whatever stitches and trims you’d like to add to your felt heart ornaments.
- To cover the back of the stitched ornaments, I simply cut out an additional felt heart and glued it in place.
Years ago when I was learning some easy stitch work and embroidery, the French knot was my favorite. After all these years, my French-knot skills were rusty so I asked Bronner artist Connie Larsen to demonstrate the stitch for you. If you’re new to it, you’ll want to practice on some felt scraps before trying your French knots on your felt ornaments.
I never would have guessed it (How can you compete with French knots?), but the arrows ended up being my favorite ornament in this craft project. There’s something wildly wonderful about crafting with simple twigs, burlap, wire, and even beads.
You’ll need several thin twigs, each about 5 inches long, from an obliging branch. The first batch I harvested were too thick. Think thin but not wispy.
- Fold your felt or burlap in half and cut out your arrowheads and tails. If you’re not comfortable doing it free hand, make yourself a paper pattern to work with. Fringe the tails.
- Glue the arrowhead in place (both sides) and then move to the tail. Secure your beads in place with a little glue on the twig and then add your tail. If you use a feather for your tail, squirt a little glue inside the outer bead and stick the end of the feather in it to secure the feather.
- If you’re using cord to hang your arrow, simply tie it in place on either end. Dot a little glue on it to hold it in place if it slides. If you’re using wire, curve it gently and wrap and twist each end in place. Again, secure with a dot of glue if necessary.
The heart, a symbol of love, transcends Valentine’s Day. It makes a lovely Christmas ornament, speaking sweetly of the sentiments of the human heart. I added a few Bronner’s favorites to my tree:
Featured: Heart With Glittered Accents Glass Ornament (1206719) $10.99
Wishing you happy ornament-crafting and the sweetest Valentine’s Day!
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