Sunday, December 30, 2012

Needle Felted Snowman

This is probably my favorite of the Christmas ornaments I make. It's also the hardest. And I'm going to attempt to show you how I do it. Hard isn't the right word...more like overly complicated...because my 6 year old son made that one...and I am a lazy and overly complicated person.

The snowman is almost entirely recycled. So thrifting is important. Here are some of the supplies. Needle felting is all about supplies. So you'll need felting needles, I use one at a time, but that pink contraption holds 3. It's not as precise so I tend to just use a single needle and use the three needled situation at the end to catch any stray threads. Also a foam block. It's a spong-ie foam, but styrofoam can also be used. The needle needs to poke all the way through the wool to lock the fibers together, so use something poke-able. Other supplies include wool felt and an uravelled sweater.
I found a white wool sweater at a thrift store and it failed to felt for me! So I unravelled it and invented my snowman. 
Here's my amazing storage container that I made from old diaper boxes, rubber bands and fabric swatches, or ziploc bag, which I use to hold my curly yarn!
I use this yarn because randomly works well for carrot noses:
And this yarn here is scraps I keep for needle felting...all wool...
This is the wool jacket I felted (washed a few times in hot water and lot of soap) and use for the backs of the snowmen.
Here is an example of needle felting and what it does. You poke the yarn through the wool felt into the foam. 
See how it sticks?! Because the wool fibers are locking together. At this point, I can still pull it apart. But it stays in place with just a few pokes. Keep poking and it gets harder to remove.
Here's the back of the snowman. See the fiber coming through the back?! Magic.
It's because of the crazy needles with the little burrs in them.
So, back to the snowman...take the unravelled sweater and poke it into the shaped felt. Poke until it's covered. There's no "right way," I've done the edge and then filled in the rest or saved the edge for last...it's the same.  Just keep poking. And try to stay perpendicular to the foam, I've broken a ton of needles trying to get fancy.
Keep going...
There's more...
All done! And it only took about thirty minutes!
Now it's time for the nose. I use this crazy thick/thin yarn that sort of makes its own carrots. I just cut it accordingly.
See? Organic carrots!
Then I poke the fat end of the carrot yarn into the middle of the snowman face. To keep the shape, you have to hold it with your thumb and poke. Otherwise the whole carrot will get sucked in.
I like to keep the carrot sort of loose, so I only secure the end. (If the placement seems off, you can pull it out, or just use some of the white curly yarn over your mistakes).

Next, the eyes! Here's where the scraps come in handy. Poke the yarn in and kind of twist it into a spiral to keep it round.
Trim the yarn and then poke the ends in.
Scarf time! I use two scrap pieces of yarn and lay them across the snowman.
Then I trim one side and tuck the ends under. Now when you felt the top, the ends get felted into the back. 
Here's a close-up of the side.
More scraps for the buttons. Just poke them in like you did the eyes.
When he's buttoned and scarved, I use the finished snowman as a template and cut out a back from the vintage wool jacket. It gives it an heirloom-ie quality. I also knot a piece of yarn, usually green to disappear into the Christmas tree. The one my son made was white, because we have a white tree.
Sandwich the holder between the felt pieces and then blanket stitch the layers together.
I do the first stitch in the middle of the "holder," it keeps the yarn in place and looks tidy.
Here it is all finished! Well, the back anyway. 
Here's the front...sideways because google likes to rotate my photos and then won't allow me to un-rotate them. See? 
So as you can see, it's not hard, just overly complicated and requires a bunch of supplies. You can probably start with just the felting needles and a scrap piece of styrofoam. And it also requires thrifting. New wool sweaters and jackets would be way too expensive to cut into pieces.

Now I have to get back to making the snowmen. I promised my mom 20 for her office. And it's gonna take awhile.













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