My First Attempt at Felting: Project Plush Gnome

As an avid gnome collector and semi-obsessive enthusiast, I have a Google News alert set up to receive notifications about all gnome-related happenings in real time. Well one day recently, I came across an article from a local Vermont newspaper interviewing a woman, Susi Ryan, about her felted gnome products.

Felted gnome products?!

My ears instantly perked up. I headed over to Susi’s Etsy page, The Felted Gnome Knows, to learn more.


There were lots of awesome things for sale here, including needle felted birds, hats, and of course, gnomes. But then I stumbled upon her Needle Felting Gnome Kit.

What if I could make my OWN gnomes?

Just like I’d always wanted to! Plush gnomes that I could carry around with my as I travel without fear of breaking!

However, I was confused and a bit nervous about the whole process. I knew what felt was, like those felt squares you buy in bulk packaging. But feltING? What exactly did that entail and was it feasible for a crappy crafter like myself?

Felting kit

According to Susi, “Needle Felting is a unique art. It is not an old technique, it started in the 1980s when some artists found that by using a machine felting needle they could shape wool by stabbing it. It takes many stabs, hours and bleeding fingers to sculpt wool but the results as you can see are terrific. There is something magical about wool felt creatures and paintings. It emanates warmth, strength and evokes a time when play was innocent.”

IMG_3313So I pushed my crafting insecurities aside and placed an order for the gnome-making kit. It arrived quicker than expected and was very cutely packaged with everything one would need to make – not just one, but several – felted gnomes. Inside the kit I found:

  • Felting needles
  • Foam square base
  • Skewer,
  • Core wool,
  • Hand dyed green, red and grey or brown wool.
  • Hand dyed accent wool of blue, flesh and black.
  • Complete picture instructions

Most of the wool is sourced in Vermont and Susi hand-dyes all her own wool. Now that’s hardcore.

To get started, I emailed a crafty friend for advice and encouragement, and she sent me a few YouTube videos. I found the most helpful one to be Basic Tools and Techniques for Felting by GypsyFelting.

IMG_3314Before even having a chance to get started, I broke a couple needles in half just trying to get them out of the packaging. This taught me very quickly how fragile these needles really are…even though they don’t look like they’d be. Susi was kind enough to send me a few replacement needles in the mail. Now that’s what I call a great Etsy shop owner.

After watching a couple YouTube videos, I concluded that the basic idea of felting was little more than stabbing fluffy fabric with a sharp object onto a sponge. Seems reasonable, right? I’m not here to make it look glamorous; I’m here to share a really accessible craft that is quickly becoming one of my new favorites.

IMG_3315In an effort to bring more ethnic and cultural diversity to my gnome collection, I decided to create a handsome brown gnome, who I like to say is of the Indian persuasion.

I worked on shaping him for about an hour on a Sunday morning and then for another hour or so later that afternoon. Sure, he’s not that big or anything; but gosh was I surprised how quickly he took shape and began actually looking like a gnome!


I finished this nameless brown gnome, my first felting project, in just a single day and couldn’t have been more pleased with the result. It was a warm sunny day in Atlanta so I took him out to pose on my Jeep for a mini-photo shoot.

Like most crafts, felting made me incredibly intimidated before I mustered up the courage to just give it a shot. But with Susi’s kind, encouraging words and a couple hours of free time on my hands, I’m sure glad I did. Felting has become one of my new favorite crafts now, and I love the idea of making fun, plush dolls to give as gifts.

In fact, just today I was researching monkey felting projects and found this fun felted chimpanzee pattern. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I think this might just be my next craft project!

Have you tried felting? I’d love to hear about what you made and how it went!

And if you don’t have time to try it yourself at the moment, I’d still highly recommend Susi’s Etsy shop. She has lots of ready-made stuff on there that’s super unique.


Needle felted rabbit mask, anyone?

*A version of this article is scheduled to appear in the next edition of the International Gnome Club Newsletter! 

The Crafting of a Gnome Skirt

Let’s take a little break from all this crazy hiking and biking for a moment to focus on one of my favorite indoor pastimes: crafting.

Many people believe that craftiness runs in the family, and I’m determined to not let it skip a generation. One of my grandmothers was a master quilter, the other a master crocheter, and my mom…well she could always sew a mean button on in a pinch.


I received a sewing machine as a gift a couple years ago and always felt intimidated by it. Slowly but surely, I learned to sew beginner basics like pillows and pajama pants. But what I really wanted to learn was how to make skirts…and more specifically gnome skirts.

After a couple failed attempts, I signed up for an 8-week beginner sewing course at my local fabric store. I arrived armed with a clever gnome fabric I found online, a fancy pink travel case for my machine, and lots of notions I wasn’t sure what to do with.


Thanks to the guidance of my fairly patient teacher, I finished the class with a gnome skirt that I’m proud to wear everywhere! If you’re curious, the pattern I used for this skirt is McCall’s #3341, Length D.

I credit this fun fabric for getting me through the frustrating bits of class, like installing the back zipper and hemming the bottom by hand. This is my first successful gnome sewing project, but I expect many more to follow!


Do you love to sew? Why not pick up some fun fabrics for your own craft projects? Check out these awesome gnome fabric links and click on the pictures for inspiration!

Need some inspiration beyond my first-timer advice? These blogs have some totally enviable gnome sewing projects that I can’t stop drooling over. I mean, baby gnome shoes? Seriously, how can you NOT gag with cuteness over those?


gnomeville shoes by funkyshapes


fab 1*A version of this article is scheduled to also be posted in the summer 2014 edition of the International Gnome Club Newsletter!

Meeting Gnome Chomsky: The World’s Second Largest Concrete Gnome

Perhaps you recall my semi-recent article about visiting the world’s largest concrete gnome in Ames, Iowa. As I road-tripped through the Northeastern United States in July, I decided it was only fair to introduce myself to the world’s second largest concrete gnome as well. His name is Gnome Chomsky and he lives at Kelder’s Farm in upstate New York.

Welcomed by farm fresh flowers

Welcomed by farm fresh flowers

Standing at 13-feet, 6-inches tall, Chomsky held the Guinness World Record for “world’s tallest garden gnome” for four years. Since that time, Chomsky has been “out-talled” by 15-foot Elwood in Iowa and a 17-foot, 8 inch fiberglass gnome in Poland. Competition aside, Chomsky was absolutely stunning.

Kelder’s Farm is a 100-acre working farm that sells seasonal fruits and vegetables, runs a mini-golf course, features a petting zoo, and offers educational tours for children. The farm also gives visitors the opportunity to milk a cow, enjoy a hayride, navigate a corn maze, and explore a greenhouse.

Me & Gnome Chomsky

Me & Gnome Chomsky

Chomsky has become famous on popular travel sites like Roadside America and Atlas Obscura. Believe it or not, Chomsky was born in New York City. Artists Maria Reidelbach, Ken Brown, and John Hutchinson built him while renovating another mini-golf course. That course closed, and in 2006, Chomsky was moved up to Kelder’s Farm in Kerhonkson, New York. “Kerhonkson needed something big and wonderful to draw attention to this beautiful part of Ulster County,” said Reidelbach, “and Kelder’s Farm is such an authentic, welcoming place, I thought a traditional, friendly, roadside colossus would be just the thing.”

The fame, the fortune

The fame, the fortune

After spending some quality time with Chomsky and coercing my boyfriend into taking dozens of photos, I ventured inside the barn to check out the gift shop. You can find everything from gnome t-shirts to postcards and temporary tattoos amongst the produce. Since Chomsky is no longer a world record holder, the clever folks at Kelder’s Farm have started referring to him the the “First World’s Largest Garden Gnome and the “World’s Cutest Gnome.” I must admit, he is considerably cuter than his Midwestern counterpart!

Kelder's gift shop

Kelder’s gift shop

So if you ever find yourself traveling through upstate New York, I would definitely suggest stopping by Kelder’s Farm to visit Gnome Chomsky and play a round of mini-golf. And if you can’t make it out that way, at least you can keep up with him on Facebook. Yes, Chomsky has his own Facebook page