Beginner Tutorial – Valentine Tomte

In this tutorial you will learn how to make a cute little tomte with a shimmering sparkle, suitable for all occasions to do with love… sarang… L’Amore…

I’ve seen my fair share of Valentine’s days. I’ve not necessarily participated in all that many, but over the years I’ve been the lucky recipient of gifts. Some were eaten, some withered and died (the gifts, that is – not the gift givers!), but the gift that means the most to me is a beautiful keepsake pot that my husband painted for me.

I firmly believe that hand-made gifts are worth so much more than anything else. It’s true that some people don’t see their value, but money is so easily spent. We live in a world that is faster than ever, and time is our most precious commodity – how beautiful it is to make something that says ‘I love you so much that I set aside part of my life to make you smile.’

You will need:

  • Core wool
  • Top colour for use as the base colour (in this case pink)
  • White Hamanaka Twinkle (review here) from Sweet Pea Dolls
  • Grey wool tops (for the beard – I recommend merino or corriedale)
  • Flesh colour (for the nose)
  • Felting mat
  • Needles (Star or Triangle in 36, 38 and (optional) 40)
  • White felt fabric
  • Fabric glue
  • Scissors
  • Optional accessory (in this case a flower)

Step 1 – Making the body

To start with you will need to make a cone shape in your base colour. This tutorial will demonstrate how to make this.

Step 2 – Give the gnome a nose!

2.1 – Felt a small ball using your flesh-coloured fibres, and leave a ‘tail’ of fibres attached to it to felt it onto the cone. As you can see in the image below, the ball is about the size of my thumbnail.

Position the nose onto the cone a few inches from the bottom, with the tail pointing down. Felt the tail onto the cone, making sure to push the tail up underneath the nose for security. You should also felt all around the base of the nose so that it’s secure in all directions.

Step 2.1

Step 3 – Add the sparkle to its bottom (oo-er missus)

3.1 – Take a short section of Twinkle fibre and place it over the base of the cone. Spread the fibre around the entire base and bring it up over the bottom (on each side).

Step 3.1

3.2 – Felt the fibres securely onto the cone, starting with a 36 triangle before progressing to a 38 triangle/ star needle.

Top tip: As you felt, spread the fibres out so that they don’t clump together.

Step 3.2

3.3 – Felt the Twinkle fibre down on all sides – this includes on the bottom!

Step 3.3

3.4 – Once you have felted the Twinkle fibre on neatly and securely, stand your cone up again to make sure it still stands up straight. If it wobbles you may need to work on the bottom a little more to make it firm and even. No one wants a wobble-bottom.

Step 3.4

Step 4 – Adding the beard

Now your gnome needs a beard!

Typically most gnomes these days have curly locks felted on as beards, but this little chap looks great with a straight beard. If you did want to use curly locks for a beard, the steps below are fundamentally the same.

4.1 – Take a strip of your coloured tops and separate it into 7 small, thin sections about an inch long.

Step 4.1

4.2 – Place a piece of the beard over the underside of the nose. With a 36 needle, felt along the width of the fibre. This will create a fold-line (aka the ‘spine’).

Step 4.2

Step 4.3 – Fold the fibre back down over itself, creating a ‘closed book’ effect. Felt over the top of the fold, all the way across, as this will help secure the fibres in place. Felt across this line several times.

Step 4.3

4.4 – Add more sections to the underside of the nose. The ideal positioning is to have three sections of fibre under the nose – one in the centre, and one on each side. There should be a tiny bit of overlap on each side so that the beard appears to blend together seamlessly – you don’t want it to look like it’s sectioned, only hipsters do that.

Step 4.4

4.5 – Now we start bringing the beard up around the side of the nose. Take another fibre section and position it so that the spine is level to the half-way point of the nose. Felt it down as before.

Step 4.5

4.6 – Add another section to the side, only this time with the spine felted from above the nose. Once this section has been felted down, guide it so that it flows smoothly down the side of the nose.

Top Tip: Help keep the beard in place by loosely felting it in the direction of its flow. Keep your needle at an angle while you do this to avoid spoiling the effect with needle marks.

Step 4.6

Of course, this process needs to be repeated on each side of the nose. Once you have finished, gently brush your fingers over the beard to snag loose fibres and pull them out. There will be loose fibres!

Step 5 – Fixing the hat

Now the hat will need some additional adjustments. We have done the donkey work already – the majority of the hat was made when you made the cone – but a rim needs to be added to the hat, and the bottom of the hat may need to be widened.

5.1 – Take a wide strip of the base colour. Fold it in half along the wide length of the strip – this fold will be the outer edge of the hat.

Loosely position this strip so that it wraps all the way around the base of the hat. The folded edge will need to go down far enough to cover the top third of the nose.

Once in place, quickly felt this strip into position onto the cone along the inside edge. The two ends of the strip meet each other once they have been wrapped around, so you will need to pull off some of the excess fibres if there is a heavy overlap.

Step 5.1

5.2 – Once the brim of the hat has been positioned you need to neaten it.

Step 5.2

5.3 – You may need to wrap a little additional fibre around the hat where the brim meets the cone, to keep it looking neat and natural.

Step 5.3

5.4 – Finally, felt the underside of the brim to create a clear distinction between the body and the hat.

Step 5.4

Step 6 – Arming the gnome

6.1 – The arms are easy to create.

Using your base colour again, take two small pieces of equal size and roll into two small tubes approximately 2 cms long. Keep one end of each arm neat.

6.1

6.2 – Felt the scruffy end of each arm to the shoulder position on each side of the body.

6.2

6.3 – Bend each arm back so that they almost meet behind the body and felt them into place so that they stay in this position.

6.3a

As you can see in picture 6.3b, there is a small gap where the arms don’t meet – this is so you can place a small decorative object.

6.3b

Step 7 – Giving the hat some sparkle

7.1 – Take a small pinch of the Hamanaka Twinkle and wrap over the end of the hat.

7.1

7.2 – Felt the Twinkle into place,as smooth as you can make it.

7.2

Step 8 – Finishing Up

At this point your gnome is now almost finished – there are just a few last steps to complete.

8.1 – Cut a small heart out of the white felt fabric and glue it to the hat using the fabric glue.

8.2 – The beard at this point is still very long. While this looks nice, if it’s too long it will get in the way of the body, so you will need to give him a trim.

8.3 – Glue a small decorative object between the ‘hands’ – a baby pink fabric rose looks really nice!

And there we have it – a sweet little Valentine’s Gnome! I also made a second gnome, where I reversed the colours (I used a white base with pink Hamanaka Sparkle accents) and gave the lady gnome cute little plaits instead of a beard. Together they make a very cute couple, don’t you think?

If you make these cute little gnomes, let me know by posting on my Facebook page! I’d love to see them.