Monday, 14 December 2015

Needle Felted Gnome

So, I probably don't need to say this out loud, but I'm always up for a new craft. I'm addicted to going to the art store and buying all kinds of things that I don't know how to use and don't really need. A trip to Michael's could easily mean complete financial ruin for me, and I'm okay with that. Over the past year I've learned to knit (I am at an extreme beginner level, but I love it) and to work with leather. (See my dreamcatcher with leather feathers if you're interested in getting started in leather crafting). And just as 2015 draws to a close, I managed to sneak one more craft onto my list of weird and wonderful skills: needle felting! 

Needle felting has long been something that I wanted to try, but I stayed away from it because, well, it's sort of odd. For me it conjures up images of lonely eccentrics sculpting small pets for themselves out of dryer lint... or cat hair. 

But I'm over all my misgivings now, because, as you can see, needle felting crafts are seriously freaking cute. I mean, that gnome has a really big pointy hat. Tooo cute! And while I probably won't take the time to felt a menagerie of eerily realistic forest creatures, I have been busy felting Christmas ornaments. I think needle felting is a great medium for creating tree ornaments, and I'll be giving them as gifts this Christmas. They're the perfect little trinket to adorn a well wrapped present. Or to keep you company while you sleep ;)

Here's how to get started:

Needle felting (also known as dry felting) is the process of tangling wool to condense and shape it. All you need is some wool roving (available at craft and some fabric stores) and a felting needle. By poking the wool roving with the barbed needle, you tangle and compact it, in order to shape it. This is basically a sculpting craft; it's very intuitive, and very relaxing. And you need few supplies to get started, so give it a try!

Always keep in mind that as you felt the roving  (as you jab it repeatedly with the needle) it will compact and so become stiffer and smaller. When shaping a piece of roving to be a body part (or whatever), start with a piece quite a bit larger than you need the finished product to be. A good example is the gnome's hand. I started with a fairly large ball of peach roving and as I felted the roving into place, it became smaller and more compact. 

To create the felted gnome, follow my photo tutorial:

To begin, make an egg shape (this will be the gnome's body) by rolling up some wool yarn. Jab the egg repeatedly with your felting needle to compact it slightly. Next, tear off three pieces of peach coloured roving and shape them into three balls (do this by rolling them in your palms). Place the balls where you want the face to be (these will form the nose and cheeks) and attach them to the body by jabbing them repeatedly with your felting needle. Tear off another piece of peach roving and pull it across the face area, covering the nose and cheeks. Jab with the needle to felt into place. Next, choose a colour for the gnomes pants. (I used brown). Tear off a piece of brown roving and wrap it all the way around the bottom third of the body. Felt into place. 

Choose another colour for the gnome's top or shirt. (Here I've used blue). Wrap the blue roving around the middle third of the body and felt into place. To create the shoes, tear off two pieces of black roving and form them into balls. Place at the bottom front of his body and felt into place. 

To create the gnome's beard, pull off a length of white roving and felt into a sort of triangular shape just below his cheeks and nose. The beard can be as long and as wide as you like; I shaped mine so that it reached down past his shirt, almost to his waist. Once you've felted his beard into place, you can give your gnome a mustache by pulling off another length of white roving and placing it lengthwise across his face, right under his nose. Shape into a mustache as you felt this piece of roving into place.

To make an arm, take a length of blue roving and wrap it around a skewer (or toothpick) to create a small cylinder. Pull the roving cylinder off the skewer and felt into place on the gnomes side. Repeat this process to form his other arm, then shape two sections of peach roving into balls and felt the balls into place to form his hands. Add two small balls of black roving above each cheek to begin shaping his eyes.
Now for the fun part: making the hat! To do this, wrap the wool yarn around the skewer, forming the shape of the hat- large at one end and tapering to a point at the other. Pull the yarn off the skewer and secure the hat on the gnome's head by felting it into place. (Jab the needle straight down through the hat and into the upper body of the gnome to felt hat to body).

Choose a colour for the hat. (I used pink). Wrap a piece of pink roving around the hat and felt into place. You may make a brim for the hat by wrapping another length of roving around the base of the hat and felting it into place. With the hat finished, the gnome is almost done! Add white roving to make little tufts of hair sticking out from under his hat (you could connect these to the beard to make side burns). And finally, add a bit of white below each eye, and felt a very small ball of white roving into the black of each eye to create highlights in the eyes.

Too cute, right?! Look for more handmade holiday posts later this week!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Shayda,
    My name is Juliette Sarschewsky. I just came across your site. It is wonderful. I am new to this process and I am wondering where you buy to buy this partially supun wool (or Lopi yarn) in the United States. I would appreciate some help on this. I want to make that beautiful owl.

    My email is