You know that feeling of delight when you try something out – whether it’s a new piece of embroidery equipment or a new pair of shoes or a bowl of porridge – and you find yourself saying, “Oh yes. This is just right!”?
You half-way sigh and wonder why this wasn’t in your life just a little bit sooner.
Well, that’s how I felt when I started using a rather unique embroidery hoop that I’ve subsequently fallen in love with.
I call it The Sqround.
There are Round hoops.
And there are Square hoops. (No, there really are square hoops – but let’s not discuss them. I’ve tried ’em all – including the high quality ones – and they always disappoint.)
And now, there are sqround hoops. That is, there are these rather curiously-named “square round” embroidery hoops.
I’ve decided this is the one instance in metaphysical reality where a thing can be square and round at the same time – while being neither square nor round, actually.
They are called square-round hoops because, unlike round hoops, they are not-round. And unlike square hoops, they are not-square.
Above, you can see my square-round hoop, which has already been bound with twill tape on the inner ring. (I’ll share a tutorial for binding the inner ring on this hoop later this week. I was going to share it here, but it took up Way Too Much Space for one article!)
Notice that the curves at the “corners” of this hoop are gentle, drawing the 7″ wide and 5.5″ tall hoop (which can be used horizontally or vertically) into a nice rectangular shape with rounded corners.
The corners are more gently sloped than those on square hoops, allowing for a really nice fit between the two rings that really works when holding onto the fabric.
You may rightly wonder “What is the Point?”
Why is this any better than a round hoop?
Well, it’s not necessarily better – it’s just different in a very good way. It has to do with the fit of the hoop on the design, more than anything else.
Many embroidery designs – whether horizontally or vertically situated – fit really well into this hoop space, because so many designs are either wider than they are tall, or taller than they are wide.
Normally, we have to choose a round hoop that’s larger in all directions than it needs to be, because – after all – it’s round.
And we are obliged to use enough fabric to accommodate the design in the hoop as if the design were squally wide and tall, so that the round hoop fits the design.
We could use stretcher bar frames that are more customizable, size-wise, but sometimes, a hoop is more comfortable to use and much more transportable.
And sometimes, stretcher bars simply won’t work for the type of embroidery we’re doing.
So there are technical reasons for a square-round hoop, but really, they boil down to this: designs fit nicely in this hoop, and the hoop works!
One thing that makes this hoop very special is the hardware. It’s designed to pull the curve together with equal force in both directions, allowing the ring of the hoop to actually hold well at the corner, where normally you’d expect it to be weak.
That’s probably one of the biggest flaws on square hoops – the hoop and hardware don’t do their job as well as they could, because one corner is always weak.
Not so on this hoop! The hardware and the cozily-situated rings do the job they’re supposed to do.
The hardware is solid brass, and it can be tightened with a screw driver to save your fingers. (I’ll talk all about binding the hoop, setting up the fabric in the hoop, and how to use hardware on a hoop the right way later this week.)
Another thing I love about The Sqround is that each of my how-to projects for this year’s series that I talked about Saturday fits into this hoop perfectly.
They are a match made in hoopy heaven!
I also like the fact that I can use them so comfortably on flour sack towels and the like.
They accommodate the height of many of my designs as well as a smaller 5.5″ hoop would, but they give me a lot more width, so more of the design is exposed in the hoop.
Pros and Cons
Pros: It’s a great size, it works, it’s well made, it’s comfortable to hold.
Cons: It’s admittedly a wee bit pricy.
But a Good hoop is an investment. If properly used and cared for, it will last you a lifetime. I’ve been using Hardwicke Manor hoops for too many years to count now, the same hoops day in and day out. You will definitely get your money’s worth out of a hoop like this!
Where to Find It
Since I really love this hoop and use it myself, and since I think it is unique as hoops go, I’m offering them in my shop here on Needle ‘n Thread.
The hoop is combined with a package of the cotton twill tape I use to bind my hoops, in case you want to bind yours. It’s 4 yards of 3/8″ 100% cotton twill tape, perfect for binding this size hoop.
I have a limited supply today. The next shipment will probably arrive in about three months. So if the supply sells out, you can contact me to be on the advanced notice list. I’ll send you an email when they are back in stock.