Nordic and Scandinavian style decor is so popular and I just love it. What I especially love is the Tomte gnomes. You may also see them referred to as Nisse and Tonttu. Our house is full of them and they are super easy so here’s a tutorial for you.
If you have never needle felted before or are an experienced felter this is a wonderful way to start and get you in the festive mood. It’s simple and relaxing and so much fun to make.
This is just one style to get you started but there are so many variations that soon, like me, you will be tripping over them. So grab a cuppa, mince pie and some festive cheer and get creating:
1 – Hat: Make this first so you can make the body to fit; much easier than trying to fit the hat to the body! You can go as small or tall as you like but this hat, when completed, is approx 20cm.My triangle template measurements are approx; base 10cm (slightly curved) and sides 12cm with a good few cm around each side. The wool I have used is Shetland.
Lay your triangle on top of your length of wool which is a decent thickness with a few extra centimetres of wool around each side. Tip; make sure your layer is a decent thickness so there are no thin, see through areas when felted.
2 – ‘Draw’ a line around the triangle with your needle to create a very rough outline
3 – Remove template and draw around the line a couple more times. This will be your fold line.
4 – Fold in the sides one at a time and start to felt to create a triangle; it will be a very rough shape to start with but you will tidy this up as the wool becomes more felted so stop fiddling with it!
5 – Gently fold and felt each side until you have this rough shape; keep the excess at the top of your triangle because this is going to create your lovely pointy hat shape.
6 – Gently pull away from the base you are using, turn and repeat. Tip; any felting base will do (foam, rice bag etc), whatever your preference.
7 – Keep repeating the process until it starts to firm up.
8 – Time to tidy up the shape; use your finger to fold in the sides that need straightening (doesn’t have to be perfect). Be slow and careful so as not to stab your finger; you can use a finger guard but I find they just annoy me. However, I have lots of customers who get on with them just fine.
9 – Your approx finished triangle which should be soft but firm and holds its shape.
10 – Fold in half and felt along the side to mesh the fibres together. Keep turning and repeating until the hat is now firmly felted along the side so it doesn’t pull apart when you gently pull it.
11 – Open up the base of the hat and tidy up the line by folding in any rough edges and felting. Keep turning and felting until you are happy with the shape at the base of your Tomte hat.
12 – Roll just the top 2/3 cm of your hat between the palm of your hands to firm up the top and point. This improves the look as well as allowing you to tip the point over to the side at a jaunty angle.
Basic Body Shape
Body shapes don’t get much easier than this. Don’t be too precious about needle marks and dimples because most of this will be covered by its big beard.
1 – Roll your wool (I have used natural white Shetland) into a basic barrel shape. It will do this automatically as you start to roll. Start with less than you need and build it up.
Most important! Do not start to felt with your needle until you have rolled at least half of it really tightly; trust me, this will save you a lot of felting time and applies to all body shapes made this way!
2 – Start stabbing all over with your needle (mind your fingers) as you continue to roll and remember to keep it tight. Tip: Check to see if your hat sits on top and if the body is too small add some more wool and felt again. If it’s too big then continue to felt where the hat will sit to reduce the size.
3 – Continue to turn and felt until you have a more even and neater shape. You may end up with a narrower end which is fine because you will pop the hat onto this. Pay particular attention to the base which needs to be flat for stability. Tip; you can also press on the base once felted as the wool is pretty malleable.
4 – Flatten the base until it sits without wobbling.
5 – Pop on your hat and felt, gently, all around the edge until it is felted securely onto the body making sure the hat seam is at the back.
6 – Make the nose by rolling a pinch of white or flesh coloured wool in your hands just to rough it up. Place on your mat and continue to felt with your needle, turning all the time. Now place back into the palm of your hands and roll vigorously until really firm and smooth. Tip; you may have to do this a couple of times to get it right as it is very easy to add too much wool and have a huge nose if you have never needle felted before. Less is always more when it comes to needle felting.
7 – Place the nose on its side, just under the front of the hat and felt the end into the body.
9 – As you do this the nose will naturally rise into its correct position. Continue to felt around the base until it is firmly attached. The base of the hat should be sat just above the nose.
10 – Decide what type of beard you are going to have. I have used grey Jacob but use whatever colour you wish. Curly locks also look really great.
11 – If using a straight wool pull off a small section and fold in half and start by felting it onto the body just under the nose. Don’t worry about it being longer than the body because you will trim it to size (or not) once it is attached.
12 – Continue to felt along the fold and attach it up the side of the nose and along the hat line. Tip; you can push the wool under the hat line with your needle (don’t bend it or you may break the needle) for a neater finish.
13 – Now trim your beard to your desired shape and style. I like mine quite ‘raggy’ so once I have got the length I then snip into the sides.
There you have it. One fabulous Tomte Christmas gnome! You can crease the hat or keep it straight. I like both. Told you it was easy!
But why would you stop there…The variations and colours are endless!