De-Capping The Needles
Click on photos to enlarge
De-capping is the most time-consuming step in preparing the needles, and for the batch I soaked, will probably take well over an hour.
In the top photo above, I'm simply pulling the caps off with my thumbnail, which is how I prefer to do it, but I do end up with black pitch under my nail that is difficult to remove, and, if I do too many needles at one time, the tip of my thumb gets a bit tender.
Peggy has a different technique, she scrapes the caps off with the dull edge of a butter knife (middle picture), which works fine too, and I think I read somewhere that there is also a tool made for de-capping now. Whatever method you come up with is fine as long as the needles remain attatched at the ends.
The bottom photo is of de-capped needles that are ready for use.
The pine-needles we use fall from the Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines in and around our yard and we get far more needles per year than we could ever use. Pines can have have needles in clusters of 2, 3, or 5, but Jeffrey & Ponderosa Pines are both 3-needle pines. The length of our needles varies from around 6 inches to well over 10 inches, but I think most of them average about 9 inches. I don't see why you couldn't use shorter needles, the project would just take a little longer, I suppose pine needles in clusters of 2 or 5 needles would be fine too.
I'll get to the actual stitching of the coils later on, I have a stack of needles to de-cap, a walk to take with Dallas, and some chores to do.