I am a sucker for a good seasonal centerpiece, and I don’t quite trust my toddler with our St. Brigid, so I decided to make a little display for her. It was a partial disaster (three words: needle felted sheep. Five more words: looks like a polar bear), but I still like it so I’ll share my results.
I started by following Sam’s tutorial:
I still haven’t gotten around to buying a wood burner. With all the peg people and bendy gnomes in my life, you’d think I could make a trip to the craft store. Perhaps someday. I had a mild panic attack when I decided to throw caution to the wind and use various markers and pens to make Brigid’s eyes, even though I knew, I knew, that they would all run. Surprise, surprise, that’s exactly what happened. I’d put down two dots, they would run, I would grumble, rotate her head a quarter turn, repeat, repeat. Brigid had six eyes before I decided to dip a very sharp pencil into black acrylic paint. Success! I just hope no one ever peers too closely under her hair, because it is terrifying.
On to the display. I wanted to make a little hill for Brigid. I cut out a pair of sort of organically-shaped felt ovals (I totally messed up here, and I’ll tell you why in a bit). Then I sewed loops around Brigid’s feet (not actually permanently attaching her, just tacking her into place) in leftover brown embroidery floss, connecting her to the felt. I bent the base of the crook ninety degrees, cut a teeny slit through the felt, and then worked the crook base through the hole. I made a tiny stitch through her sleeve and then looped thread around her crook. I kind of had to fidget a little, but I was able to get Brigid to stand. At this point, she sort of looked like she’d been to a rave. I made a mental note to re-glue her hair after I’d finished.
Next, I blanket stitched the two felt hill pieces together, stuffing them with wool batting when I was about three-quarters of the way done (you can also throw in a baggy of rice or beans to give it some weight, if you choose). I had to use a contrasting green thread, which I wasn’t thrilled with, but hey, Ireland is the land of forty shades of green, and I live in the land of arctic-weather-prevents-trips-to-Michael’s, so I went with it.
This is where I messed up. I’ve made a few felt toys with blanket stitches, but these were all meant to have fronts and backs. This time, I wanted a hill with a flat bottom. Because I cut them to be the same size, I got a green blobby UFO instead of a hill. Whoops. It was an easy fix, though. I cut a slit down the middle of one side, pinned a seam with a half inch overlap, and stitched it up. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. If you decide to make a little hill for Brigid, make the base the same shape as your hill, but at least a half inch smaller all the way around. You should cut concentric -not identical- ovals.
I was almost finished, but I decided to give my display a little more heft by attaching it to the wood trunk cross section we keep our meal candle and verse on. It looked a little lonely on the bare wood, so I sewed it to a flat sheet of felt, glued the felt onto the wood, and then trimmed the felt to the wood’s shape. I figure when I want bare wood again, I can just flip it over, and now I have a grass-colored base for future scenes.
Next, I sort of loosely followed this tutorial to make a little candle holder. I left out the mini vases because the only things that grow in Iowa this time of year are frost and articles about the caucus, but I love the way the yellow flowers look. If you live in a place where flowers in January are actually possible, you should make this happen. I went with four candles to represent the seasons, and I used white candles with a green base as a sort of visual reference to snowdrops.
Then I got cocky and decided to needle felt a sheep. Guys, I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe it’s the too-big ears, maybe it’s the fact that I’m not used to felting something so small, maybe I would have been better off using curly roving, but the thing I made last night does not look like a sheep. Remember how on Lost there was a polar bear on the island? Well, apparently his brother made it to the Emerald Isle. I thought to myself, “Well, he’s kind of cute, and what does a toddler know? He’ll think it’s a sheep; it doesn’t have to be perfect.” And then Ben woke up this morning, saw our centerpiece, and said “Look! A polar bear!” and broke his mother’s heart. Also, because I used contrasting felt on the hill and the wood (I was trying to make the thread choice look more deliberate), the hill looks a little like a partially-submerged turtle shell, which the kid picked up on right away. I have clearly not told him enough Brigid stories because he spent the morning weaving grand tales about a little girl and her polar bear who go on adventures on the back of a turtle. I’m pretty okay with this. It may not do my crafting skills much credit but at least I’m raising imaginative children, right?