DIY & Crafts

How to make festive snow folk

By: Jo Calvert / Designed by Susan Filshie

Author: Canadian Living

DIY & Crafts

How to make festive snow folk

By: Jo Calvert / Designed by Susan Filshie
A newly popular craft, needle felting has Toronto designer Susan Filshie hooked, so when her cousins held their pre-Christmas get-together last year, she took along a huge bag of unspun wool fleece and some felting needles. "Before I knew it," she says, "everyone who wasn't in the kitchen was gathered around the felting table."

Last year, at Susan's family gathering, the oldest person felting was 65 and the youngest was eight. Everyone pricked their fingers, but each person made a spectacular snowman. The children, who were enthusiastic and shameless, took handfuls of wool so they could carry on at home.

"It's a terrific craft for a group," Susan says. "There's no pattern to follow, so conversation can flow as everyone pokes and jabs their own little woollen creations." And it's an inexpensive and portable craft, as well.

Caution: Older children love this craft, but the needles are too sharp for very young children.

Are you new to felting? Take a look at our photographed, step-by-step instructions for festive snow folk.

You need:
• Natural white pure wool roving (avoid very long or curly fibres), for bodies
• Natural white and coloured curly wool fleece (optional), for hair
• Small amouns of coloured pure silk and pure wool roving, and unravelled pure wool knitting or tapestry yarn (optional), for eyes, noses, buttons and clothing
• 40-gauge felting needle(s)
• Sharp embroidery scissors

To make:
Separate roving by gently pulling apart along fibres; do not cut.

Arrange enough 15 to 18 cm (6- to 7-in) lengths of roving, side by side, to make bunch about 10 cm (4 in) in diameter, then grasp centre, as if holding bunch of flowers, in nonworking hand. Working around protruding top ends, felt top together into loose dome; turn roving bunch, other ends up, and repeat. Holding at 1 end, work from end to end along side, turning roving, to form loose sausage-shaped body.

To felt roving and form shape, hold loose roving in your nonworking hand and, taking care not to prick that hand, repeatedly jab needle into roving, "woodpecker" style, bending your needle hand at wrist. The early form should be about 25 per cent larger than your desired finished size.

For 3-snowball body, start with 18 to 20.5 cm (7- to 8-in) lengths of roving and follow steps 1 through 3. About one-third of the way down from neck, form waist, if desired, in same manner as for neck, and add hips, in same manner as for shoulders.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover how to add fine details, like eyes, a nose and a scarf on page 2
About one-quarter of the way down from top end (head), needle in line around body, turning as you work, to tighten felting and shape neck. If desired, wrap thin layer of matching roving around body just below neck, then needle all around to attach to body and form shoulders.

Gently needle head all over, turning as you work, to shape firm sphere.

Tip: Use deep jabs to produce dense felting inside shape to firm and define form, or concentrate jabs over small areas or along lines to create concave shapes or narrow grooves, respectively.

Giving your snowfolk eyes
For each, needle midpoint of very few short black fibres to attach, then coil fibre ends into tiny knot around needle tip and jab in place.

Tip: Use light, shallow jabs to add details by attaching fine strands or thin layers of contrasting colour fibres, or to smooth out lumps by attaching matching fibres.

Adding a nose
(Make 2 at a time, as follows.) Between fingers, roll peasize clump of loose roving into 3 cm (1-1/8-in) length, tapering ends. Needle lengthwise, then crosswise to firm up. Between fingers, reroll each end to firm up taper. At midpoint, cut in two. With scissor tips, cut small slit in face. Insert cut nose end into slit, then needle through face into nose to attach.

Adding fine details
To create flat fabric, such as tiny scarf, lay roving on felting mat (resembles upside-down flat brush) or dense foam, then lay contrasting colour fibres on roving to create dots, stripes or plaid, and needle to felt into fabric and attach details.

Tip: To avoid skin pricks, and nicks, work with patience and care.

Topping it off with a colourful hat
Loosely shape coloured roving into small cones, cups or cylinders, then needle to form toques, hats or top-hat crowns, for example, or shape small discs for caps and hat brims.

There's something for everyone, novices and experienced crafters alike, in our newsletter, Get Crafty. Sign up now to get the e-newsletter.

For more inspiration on crafting, don't forget to visit The Craft Blog too!

This story was originally titled "Festive Snow Folk" in the December 2008 issue.

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DIY & Crafts

How to make festive snow folk