Hedgehogs, Otters and Ballooning Bears

I’ve been working on adding some new critters to the shop these last few weeks. And, a few most recent additions are some of my favorites, and some of the more fun to work on.

Hedgehog

Hedgehog v. 2

Otter

Otter

Ballooning Bear

Ballooning Bear

It’s getting to be the time of year where I have to focus more on production and less on coming up with new designs. But, I’m happy to have been able to sneak these guys in.

How-To: Needle Felted Pumpkin

With autumn right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share a quick and easy project.

Needle Felted Pumpkin

Materials

Feltable wool – orange, dark orange, light green and dark green (There are a lot of wool options out there for felting. I find the best type of wool for felting has been carded, but NOT combed. It is sometimes sold in a batt).

You will also need a felting needle (I prefer to use a coarse needle for shaping and a fine needle for details).

Optional: Felting pad (this may make some of the detail work easier, and save your fingers from possible pokes)

General Needle Felting Tips

There is no right way to needle felt. The technique is fairly straightforward. Take a barbed needle to some wool and it will start to become more compact. The more poking you do in one area, the denser the wool will become. Soon and object will start to take shape.

I usually shape with my hands before felting. If the object you are making is round, start with a roundish shape of wool— one that’s been pulled together tightly. (If you start out with a loose “cloud” of wool, it might take awhile before you start to get the wool to felt together.)

Layering the wool will help you build up a form that is also firm and compact. The end result will hold its shape better and be easier to add details to.

Step-by-step Instructions

IMageSteps

1. Start by rolling up a small piece of orange wool.

2. Try to keep the roll together.

3. With a coarse needle, start felting around the entire shape, making sure to poke in any loose pieces.

4. You should end up with a small, flattened ball.

5. With another piece of orange wool, wrap the felted ball (from steps 1-4), in the same manner as before, making sure to hold it together.

6. With a coarse needle, felt around the entire shape, making sure to poke in any loose pieces.

IMageSteps2

7. With another piece of orange wool, wrap the felted ball (from steps 5-6), in the same manner as before, making sure to hold it together.

8. With a coarse needle, felt around the entire shape, making sure to poke in any loose pieces.

9. Shape as necessary so as to resemble a slightly flattened ball

10. Using the coarse needle and starting at the top center, needle felt a ridge down one side to the bottom center.

11. Turn pumpkin around and repeat.

12. Turn pumpkin and repeat as necessary for desired number of ridges.

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13. Take a small amount of the dark orange wool.

14. Pull and twist a small bit of wool. This will be used to emphasize the ridges. Make a piece that is slightly longer than pumpkin circumference.

15. Starting at the top center, poke one end of the twisted wool and start working your way down one side, felting it into the ridge.

16. Fill in all the ridges, starting at top and working all the way around.

17. See the pumpkin taking shape?

18. Take a small piece of dark green wool, and with a dampened finger, roll back and forth, favoring one end to make a conical shape.

IMageSteps4

19. Work the thinner end of the stem into the top of the pumpkin, poking until it is very secure.

20. With a very small piece of light green wool, carefully flatten the top of the stem, while shaping and working in the light green piece.

21. With a very small piece of dark green, work a small piece into the bottom of the pumpkin, covering up center with a small circle of dark green.

Finished! That wasn’t so bad, was it? Time to make another! Or, if you want someone else to make one for you, you can order one or more from my shop.

More Than Just Felt

I have made thousands of felted friends for people all around the world. Even though I make each one with care, every once in a while I will get a note from a customer letting me know a little more about where the owls, penguins, elephants, etc… have ended up, and for what special purpose. Anniversaries are a frequent reason, but so have been memorials and long hospital stays.

It serves to remind me that even the smallest act of creation can have a meaningful impact on someone miles away. And, even though it is a business, there is often more happening than just an exchange.

One occasion I have enjoyed customizing for are weddings. These little guys end up being center pieces or cake toppers. And the possibilities of different combinations are almost limitless — I have yet to encounter two request the same, as you can see below.

Owl Cake Topper

Owl Cake Topper

Owl Cake Topper

Owl Cake Topper

Owl Cake Topper

Owl Cake Topper

Owl Cake Topper

The biggest challenge, believe it or not, is finding a curved branch that supports the owls above the ground and also fits within a cake top diameter (usually 7 inches). The nearby park and our back yard offer stick-hunting opportunities, but I sometimes wonder what the neighbors think seeing me forage through the brush.

Owl Cake Topper

Is Your Home Protected?

For those homes still fortunate to have a tomte in residence, read no further. I’m pretty sure we’ve got one, or a family of them living somewhere quiet inside. The attic doesn’t quite seem like a good place to live, nor does the basement. The only reason I suspect they are living inside is the occasional glimpse we’ve gotten. I started walking around with my camera just so I could quickly snap a picture when I spotted one.

Tomte Hiding

Sure enough, around tea time I caught a glimpse. The next time was in the morning. I was about to water the plants and I noticed the little guy looking outside (it’s been a beastly summer, and we’ve closed the house up much of these last couple of weeks). I think he, like us, was missing hanging out outside.

Tomte Hiding

There have been other sitings, but I’m trying not to interfere too much, so I just barely got this picture and then promised to put the camera away. I took it while we were sorting through some of our books. I’m sure he was starting scope out the available titles to have on hand during the long winter nights.

Tomte Hiding

Anyway, the reason why I’m sharing all of this, is that there are many homes that do not have a tomte living nearby, looking after things. They are easily offended and will move out if not properly treated (like, did you remember to put out a bowl of porridge last Christmas night?).

I’m pleased to offer a particularly smart and willing wizard for hire. This house wizard can offer similar services as a tomte. Though not up to speed on the history of your home, he possesses some of the same qualities as a tomte – particularly constant vigilance.

Needle Felted House Wizard

He prefers a high spot in the room (perhaps the top shelf in a living room bookcase) – somewhere where he can survey the room and get a sense of what is happening in the house.

Needle Felted House Wizard

Since you pay an agent (me) for his services, he will not run out on you if you forget to get him a present, or suddenly find yourself cursing up a storm.

Needle Felted House Wizard

If you are interested, find out more here.