Valentine’s Day is an excellent time for me to get in touch with my stitchier side by diving head first into making cross stitch valentines!
As any qualified stitcher will tell you, thread selection is crucial. I’m sticking to a reasonably traditional valentiney pallet of red and pink thread on a crisp white x stitch fabric.
I’ve freed myself from an unexpected snag and have selected two strands of embroidery floss about 18 inches in length. Anything longer than that could lead to the heartache of thread tangle. (Thread tangle support groups are available to stitchers worldwide.)
After a frustrating needle threading session, I like to take a few moments to relax and reflect on the pristine white fabric. So empty, yet, so full of promise.
I carefully count the squares on the fabric to determine where I will place my first stitch. I place my needle beneath the spot and decide to double check by counting again. Yes, I was correct! But just to be sure that I counted correctly the first two times, I count one more time. Yep, that’s the same location I identified the first two times. I exert a tiny bit of pressure and the needle point emerges like the first daffodil bursting from the cold ground on a spring morning.
I plunge the needle back into the fabric in the next diagonal space. I repeat in the same square on the other diagonal to create the perfect x. I can’t help but marvel at the first stitch. Just look at that symmetry, vibrant color, and delightful personality. The beauty compels me to continue.
I embrace the zen of stitching. I am one with the cloth & the thread. Living in the moment. No past, no future, only the stitch. Immersed in serenity, I feel a haiku bubble up.
The needle darts in an out.
A heart is a natural for any Valentine. Of course, I think a nicely rendered rhythm strip is always appropriate for a cardiac-related holiday. As you can see, I’ve stitched a normal sinus rhythm accented by a ventricular extrasystole complete with a compensatory pause. It’s a classic!
Look at those perky little p-waves, the crisp QRS complexes, and the graceful t-waves. I think the aberrant heartbeat adds interest, don’t you?
I’ve perked up this lively atrial flutter with 2:1 ventricular conduction by weaving deep pink ribbon through the eyelets of the heart. Remember, good stitching technique is essential when doing a cardiac bypass or valve replacement. Such ribbon and lace may be considered a bit frivolous in some operating rooms. Always check before bringing such embellishments to surgery.
Notice the delicate spikes before the P waves? That’s not muscle artifact. They are pacer spikes from the atrial lead.
With all the natural beauty of this rhythm strip, a simple bow is the only embellishment needed to finish off this delightful Valentine.
If my interpretation of an A-V sequential pacemaker doesn’t say “my heart beats only for you!” I don’t know what does!
What do you think? Who’s heart wouldn’t go pitter-pat when they receive one of these charming arrhythmia valentines? I know mine would!
(First published in the International Journal of Cardiology Stitchery Association.)