Needle Felted Gnome Ornaments Tutorial

Needle felted gnome ornaments

  This tutorial shows how to make these simple gnomes for imaginative play or to use as holiday ornaments. With a little variation, you can make Santa Clauses as well!  

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Needle Felting Gnomes

Needle felted gnome couple

I‘ve become acquainted with gnomes, popular in Waldorf-Steiner education circles and with people who have high esteem for all things natural. The gnome stories (originating in Norway) tell of the good deeds of the benevolent gnomes, the keepers of animals and nature. The folklore of gnomes teach many skills, similar to those of a farmer or pioneer, living off the land, dependent and respectful of the nature around them.  

Needle felted gnome, family man

As I read the book Gnomes by Rien Poortuliet and Wil Huygen, I was amazed at the detail in which life skills were described. The gnome lore talks about so many of the skills that Waldorf-Steiner schools teach their students, skills that are today rather rare in the western world, like basket weaving. I admire that someone wants to teach children artful crafts that no one needs to do anymore, like bake bread or make your own toys out of things you find around the house. Even more so, I’m impressed with the parents who still find these things important and see value in them. You’ll never find a gnome child playing with a Wi or listening to their i-pod, they’ll be playing imaginative games and making their own music on an instrument and their parents will be there with them delighting in the merriment. The beauty of the Waldorf-Steiner methods teach a child how to use their imagination, thus how to think.   

Needle felted Lady Gnome

 The mother gnome takes on a very traditional role in gnome lore, I didn’t see any tiny, pink brief cases or mini designer suits hanging off a hook in the illustrations of their homes. When I was a little girl, my family lived a very gnome-like life, but we were all much taller! Maybe gnomes are so popular with those of us who value doing and making things ourselves because we’ve been bombarded with popular culture, plastic throw way everything, mindless musical lyrics and a sense of ho-hum with the things around us.  

Needle felted belt buckle detail

 I remember a furniture store in Chicago where all the pieces were made by hand by artisans, I often went into that shop just to be around the furniture (I couldn’t afford to buy a candle stick in that shop). I could see the hand crafted details in the furniture, the natural wood was rubbed with bee’s wax that gave it a rich, mat finish. I could see the time and skill and genius that went into making the pieces in that shop and I admired the abilities of the crafts-people. But maybe that’s just me, because I’ve seen many people who will buy what ever is on sale, no matter the piece. I know that in every gnome household, the furniture looks just like the pieces that I admired long ago on Clark street in Chicago.  

The needle felted gnome family

  Today there seems to be a backlash against consumerism and the throw away culture of the western world as seen in the resurgence of handmade crafts (Etsy) and the green movement. I think all generations have nostalgia for the past and admiring the make believe world of gnomes give us the sense that we may be moving back toward something more meaningful and useful in our lives.

The first neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Israel: Neve Tzedek

Lili picks bouganvillia in Neve Tzedek

Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, Israel has been my neighborhood for the last 10 years. I share this quaint and historic village-like neighborhood with people who’s families have lived here for several generations, some of their family names don the street signs. Neve Tzedek is located in the southern most part of Tel Aviv and was until about 15 to 20 years ago, a rather rough neighborhood. As gentrification began, many new Israeli families and many international residents have come to live here. The lure of this neighborhood is obvious to me, it’s narrow streets run by European/Arabic style homes and buildings. Many of these original structures are more than hundred years old; they were built during the time of the Ottoman Empire and still radiate fairytale charm. Giant bougainvillea vines creep over many of the old structures and crawl over the trees making arches of flowers over streets.  Old wooden doors lead to small courtyards where people still hang their washing and side walks are almost too narrow to walk on. The beach is a 10 minute walk from our house and we consider it our “backyard”. The ancient port city of Jaffa is a 15 minute walk south, along the sea.

Vines of roses crawl up an old wall

 As colorful as the flowers in Neve Tzedek are it’s residents. The houses are very close together and it’s easy to hear what the neighbors are up to. It’s not uncommon for your neighbor to shout loudly out of their window to ask you a question instead of picking up the telephone. Shouting is an accepted mode of communication here and some evenings neighbors squabble in the middle of the street till the police come, and then the neighbors end up shouting at the police. Shabbat (Saturday) is a day many people don’t drive, so it’s not uncommon for families to put their chairs in the middle of the street to sit and talk and soak up the afternoon sun. They begrudgingly move their chairs when a car needs to pass. Many people know their neighbors and it’s a nice feeling walking through Neve Tzedek and chatting with 5 or 6 people before you get to your destination. I walk almost everywhere I go here because everything I need is close by and I hate to drive in this country.

Horses cart watermelons and junk through the streets

 There are horse and buggies that clomp through the streets in the summer, the vendor yells avatiach (watermelon) and there is a junk wagon, the vendor yells altizakken (old stuff in Yiddish) looking for tin, metal or other valuable things to collect. There are many cute shops, restaurants and cafes. The neighborhood has two little corner stores called mackolets; these small sundry stores are not modernized, they are crowded and dilapidated and full of character. The mackolets here remind me of old, country stores in the southern part of the United States that I’ve been in. I don’t read Hebrew and my language skills are limited, so besides asking people to read labels for me, I rely upon the photos on packaging to find what I need. When trying to speak to someone who really doesn’t speak English, I have also resorted to using sound effects (like a chicken clucking to find chicken breasts or a cow mooing to let the store clerk know that I’m looking for ground beef) and I also use mini impromptu mime performances to communicate. Most Israeli’s and foreigners speak English, but the Russians mostly don’t speak English and the French aren’t very good at it.  There are several nursery schools and an elementary French school in my neighborhood. The Le École Marc Chagall draws most of it’s student body from many French immigrants and children of international diplomats, my children attend this school.

Going to Susanne Dalal Center to play

 One of the biggest tourist sites in Neve Tzedek is the Susan Dalal Center, it is a professional dance complex consisting of several practice and performance buildings.  More importantly to the residents of Neve Tzedek is the big piazza in the center of the the dance complex. This large space is where neighborhood children ride their bicycles, skateboards, play soccer, tag and hide and go seek in the surrounding greenery. There are several art and music festivals held at the Susan Dallal complex throughout the year making this area a rich cultural meeting place. It’s really a beautiful place to sit and people watch, have a cappuccino or an ice cream at the gelateria nearby. 

Street bookshelf off of Shabazi street

Besides the apparent beauty and historical interest of this neighborhood, is the quirkiness that attracts me. The dichotomy between the original inhabitants of the area, the 7 tiny synagogues that pepper the small streets, the handful of trust fund families (people who don’t work like “normal” because they have a trust fund to live off of), the business moguls who have swimming pools on their roofs, the regular folk (whom I consider myself apart of) and the artists that live and work here give this place a unique feel.

Emili and Lili in an Arabic-style doorway in Neve Tzedek
My neighbor Moishe's house
Top of an artistic doorway in Neve Tzedek
In front of the Chelouch house in Neve Tzedek

Needle felted Green Onion Doll & Tutorial

Bunch of needle felted green onions


I was chopping vegetables for a salad the other day and I was inspired by the green onions! Holding up the long, thin, onion  it looked like a little person to me; the white bulbous end of the onion was the head, the spiky little roots looked like hair and the long green scallion stems were the body! Sure, why not!? So I got out my felting needles and went to work.    

Needle felted green onion dolls


 If green onions had a personality, I’m sure they’d be giggly like little girls and cheeky when you pulled them from the ground. I’ve been trying to create a series of natural toys for kids and my imagination snuck up on me and came up with these. Surprisingly, this was a lunch salad I was fixing, so there was no alcohol consumption involved!    

Emili and needle felted green onion dolls


 After I make something, I sit and look at it for quite a while. I need time to see if anything needs to be changed or altered before I decide if I’m happy with it. I was sitting in the living room holding and contemplating the bunch of dolls when my oldest daughter came in the front door. ” Are those ONIONS?” she asked. “Yep”, was my reply. I had already become comfortable with my new, slightly odd creation: green onions as dolls. “Oooookaaay”, she said as she went into the kitchen, because she’s used to seeing odd things sitting around our house like giant needle felted tarantulas, boxes of doll eyes, doll body parts or 7 foot tall paper mâché mushrooms.    

needle felted green onion dolls with personality


 Surpringly simple to make, my green onion dolls seem to make everyone smile. See the following tutorial to make your own!  These dolls are also available to purchase from my website shop: or my Etsy shop: 

Happy green onion doll


Green Onion Doll Tutorial: This tutorial shows how to make one needle felted green onion doll. 
Tools: felting needles, sponge for felting surface, embroidery needle, scissors
wool: dark green (body/stems) I prefer felting a course wool like shetland or New Zealand
bright green-felted in the center area, visually connecting stems and the head
white (head)
core wool or fiber-fill (base shape)
white curly yarn (hair)
thread (for wrapping core wool or fiber fill to make base shape)
green embroidery thread (for the face and securing stems and yarn hair) 

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