Original Leisure & Entertainment


I’m sure many of you have heard the expression “From the cockles of my heart”, but have you ever wondered what the heck are cockles and how do they emulate from your heart? I decided to research the idiom and found out cockles are the heart’s ventricles, the two large chambers toward the bottom of the heart that collect and expel blood from an atrium towards the peripheral beds within the body and lungs. Cockle is derived from the Latin cochleae cordis from “cochlea” (snail): a nod to their snail-like shape.

Cochlea refers to the spiral shaped cavity that forms a division of the internal ear that also resembles a snail shell. It contains nerve endings that are important for hearing. People who are hard of hearing may benefit from a cochlear implant to improve their hearing.

The first known use of “Warm the cockles of my heart” dates back to 1671. It is surmised that “cockles” is a distortion of “cochleae”. So, if you warm someone’s cockles, you are warming and gratifying their deepest feelings, which makes it a perfect expression for Valentine’s Day!

Now I have warmed the cockles of many a heart when I present back to my customers a quilt that now looks so much better than it did when it was first entrusted to our care. Several years ago, Louise Bridges and I had the opportunity to warm the cockles of a teenage girl’s heart. Hannah was close to her grandmother and she was saddened when she passed away. Hannah’s mom brought her mother-in-law’s unfinished quilt project in to have us complete. The grandmother’s work was exquisite floral applique blocks just waiting for the right sash and border fabric to complete it. Louise and I arranged and rearranged the blocks balancing the various shades of reds and pinks. Once sandwiched, I hand quilted it as the grandmother would have done so. On her 16th birthday the quilt was presented to Hannah who now cherishes it as a treasured memory of her dear grandmother.

Mission Accomplished: Her cockles have been warmed!

Latest posts by Lois Levihn (see all)

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer