Friday, May 17, 2013

Live Happy!

So, a while ago, I got this wild idea that I'd start doing "needle punch." Do you know what it is? I didn't when this got under way. I had seen a few kits on my regular craft shop wandering trips, but it took me a while to commit. Here's the finished product!
It's almost difficult to explain what "needle punch" actually is. Basically, a goofy needle-like tool is loaded up with thread. It's pushed through woven cloth from back to front according to a legend printed on the back. When this is done enough times, and done correctly, the front winds up filled with a bunch of loops that come together to show the image sort of like the fibers in carpeting. 

When I bought the kit and the needle tool, I knew that was the idea. I hadn't really any idea how that was going to happen.
So, first I watched this video. Because I really had no idea what I was doing. I mean really none.

Then, I got out all my supplies. I had purchased a kit at Michaels. If you're looking to get into this craft, I really think that's the place to start.

After having read all of the directions and looked over everything, I did a practice round.
Um, yeah. Yikes. I was quite frustrated with this, but I decided to persevere. (Also, this was the second of the practice rounds. The first one looked even worse).

One of the most nerve-wracking parts was when I had to trace the words onto the front of the cloth. I get that they want it to be for sale in all of North America - so it includes text options in English, Spanish and French - but still. Yikes! Luckily, it's supposed to have that "dorky homemade look," so it's not an enormous deal that the text is uneven and slanted. The letters just had to be embroidered. I worked on a big embroidery project last summer, so I sort of know how to do it. But, let's be real, I haven't embroidered anything since that time, so it's not something my hands just know how to do.

So here's my first stuff. Doing these little circles was a little bit difficult, because the stitches make more sense when they're linear rather than circular. But, it was quite an accomplishment to get this far. Part of the trick with needle punch is the tension. Once you've made your stitches, if you pull too hard on the thread that you're waiting to use, it will pull all the stitches you've made right out. My instructions had told me that, so I was careful. Not quite careful enough, though. It worked best for me if that surplus yarn ran over the top of my right hand. When it ran under my right hand, if my hand touched any surface, that created just enough tension on the string that all the stitches came out. Booooooo.

So, this is the back side, which is actually where you work. It became increasingly difficult to work on the back side as time went by. I read some suggestion on the internet that one could glue down some of these ends, but I couldn't think of a place where they could be glued and be out of the way!

So, yeah. This is what it looked like at the end. Ack! It was difficult to separate all of these strings to do the final stitches, but it worked out okay.

Because this is the front!
Yep! Finally done! This whole project took much longer than I expected. I also didn't think I'd need to make a second pass to fill in a number of the different shapes in the pattern. But, I held my work at arm's length and looked at it a few times. I saw too much white, so I had to go back and add some more. They say it's easy to add a second pass with the thread. It's not impossible, but it's not easy either since the back side is already pretty well covered with stitches. Nevertheless, I did it and it worked.

I decided to hide the ugly mess on the back by putting the whole thing on display in a picture frame!
I originally thought I was going to have to custom frame this beast, which was a little bit of a concern. The package said it was 6 x 6, and I knew I wouldn't be able to find a frame off the rack. One of my coworkers, who buys and sells concert posters and other artwork as a hobby, suggested that I could consider getting a custom cut mat, even if I wanted to just buy a pre-made frame off the rack. He thought that I'd be able to get something that looked nice without spending all the money to have it custom framed. I was happy to have his advice, though I was even happier when I started working on the project and realized that the pattern was not 6 x 6. In fact, I had difficulty keeping the square of fabric in my 9 inch round embroidery hoop, and the pattern was just a small part in the middle! I did some quick measuring and realized I could easily fit it into something standard! I dropped in over at Ikea and picked this one up. The needle punch project has more texture than most art, so I knew a shadowbox would be important. At lots of places, they're super spendy, but not in the house of everyone's favorite Swede.

So here's the final, framed, finished product! I'm looking forward to hanging it up. Now, all I have to do is pick out the perfect spot!

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