Getting to Gnome You
|Out adorable intern Lauren shows off the equally adorable
When I was young I was obsessed with all fairies, elves, and gnomes. My mother had a wonderful book on gnomes, which was simply titled Gnomes, and long before I could read the cursive that filled each page, I would flip through this beautiful book and get lost in the illustrations. Unlike most children, I never grew out of fairy tales; instead, as a teen and college student I kept buying new translations of the Brothers Grimm and scouring thrift stores for books of folklore from around the world. Today as a bona fide Adult, I still love reading the old tales about the wee folk as well as new stories by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and others that explore the old legends and traditions in new ways.
I bring this up to explain why I was so excited when Anita mentioned casually mentioned one day that she was working on a needle-felted gnome project. I believe there may have been squealing involved. When I saw the initial prototype felted gnome I knew we had something special. He was absolutely adorable with his rosy cheeks and his bright red cone hat. Later came more gnomes and then the gnome ladies. Pretty soon there were enough for an entire happy village of gnomes and it seemed as if everyone in the office wanted to check out these adorable little ladies and gents.
While many people oohed and aahed over the gnomes, what happened next was something most of you weavers out there have probable experienced before. “Oh that’s wonderful,” people would exclaim. “I could never do something like that.” Weaver know that just because something looks complicated doesn’t mean it necessarily is hard to make. Take log cabin, for example. It’s just plain weave but because of the strategic use of color it looks complicated. Then of course there are the twills that appear endlessly complex but we all know it’s just a matter of setting up the loom correctly and treadling 1-2-3-4-3-2-1.
The same can be said for much of needle felting. While it is true that there are beautifully intricate needle felted sculptures that take great amounts of skill and talent, much of needle felting is fairly simple. It’s all about creating shapes and connecting the shapes. A gnome might look complicated, but once you realize it’s just a combination of spheres, cones, and cylinders it becomes far less intimidating. (It also helps that Anita filmed a how-to video that shows step-by-step how to make each bit of the gnome and how to combine them.)
In just a few weeks I’ll have several days off before guests arrive for Christmas. I’ll use that free time to clean, bake, and finish weaving any last-minute gifts. In the evenings, when it’s nice and quiet, I think I’ll also take the time to needle felt up some gnomes to give to my guests and to hang on my own Christmas tree. It will be a reminder of my first year in my new home and of a holiday spent with loved ones. It will also remind me of childhood winter days spent curled up in a blanket, paging through a book of gnomes that I may not have been able to read, but I certainly understood.
Happy Weaving and a Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans!