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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Maisie's Christmas "Orneries"

Back in the early fall when we were making plans for the house remodel, I naively thought I'd be getting SO much extra work done at the Wool House because I'd be hiding out up there while the guys worked (go ahead - insert insane laughter ;-).  I made a list of fun projects I wanted to get done - Christmas cards, felted sheep, wool wreaths and Maisie ornies (slang for ornaments).  As I wrote "ornie" I couldn't help but change it to ornery :-D.

I finally got the Christmas card painted and off to the printer (aka Saint Tim) Saturday...and again Monday (a long story that of course sort of involves Maisie) and decided that maybe it wasn't too late to think about a Maisie Ornery.  

The first thing I did was dye a skein of Lamb Camp yarn a rich Christmas red.  Well, at first I dyed it a too purple-y red because I added too much black, but Sheepmom suggested over-dyeing it with some yellow and that fixed it.  Well, the really first thing I did was have some white mat board cut into sheep shapes, so the next first thing I did was find where I'd stashed them.  

Want to make a Maisie Ornery?  

You'll need a small piece of cardboard, some wool roving, yarn or ribbon for the bow, yarn for a tail and a small brass bell.  A tapestry needle would be handy.  A felting needle is helpful, but not necessary.  A hot glue gun...everyone should have a hot glue gun!  Needle nose pliers will help, too. Oh, and some thread or fishing line for a hanger.

Mat board is good and solid, but poster board would work just fine and will be easier to cut by hand. Sheep are a pretty simple shape.  You just need some legs and a head and a hole about halfway back for a hanger.

The next step is to draft out/thin down (if your roving is fat) some of your favorite wool roving.  I'm using actual Maisie wool so it's very fat ;-D.

Start wrapping around the cut out.  I go around the body horizontally and then around the neck and then around the body vertically.  If you don't like how it looks, unwrap it and start over.  

Sheep are a pretty simple shape - round and fluffy ;-).

If you have a felting needle handy, use it to tuck in any loose ends or straggly fibers.  Felting needles are a special type of needle that have barbs (click to biggify) along the pointy end that catch individual wool fibers as you push them it and tangle them with other fibers as you pull it out - over and over.  

Safety disclaimer - yes, you can push them into your fingers and no, you really don't want to do that. But you will, so they say you should make sure you have a current tetanus shot...which you should anyway.  But still, try to not stick yourself...but you will.  You've been warned ;-).

Here's something interesting you might not know.  Or maybe you do know and I was the only one who didn't...but if I was the only one who didn't know, they wouldn't have posted this really interesting TED talk about tying your shoes (and other bows).  It's very short.  Go watch it.  It will change your life.  I promise.  You'll never tie another crooked/sideways bow again!

For my Maisie Ornery I added a tail.  Most sheep don't have tails so you may not care to add this extra step.  I used some leftover Maisie sweater yarn and threaded it along the top of the ornery, just out a bit by the head, removed the tapestry needle and pulled back on the tail until the front of the yarn was hidden by wool.

I used my felting needle to tack it a few times (poke, poke, poke), just to be safe, but as long as your cat doesn't get ahold of it, it should stay pretty secure without the needle.

Run a piece of thread or fishing line through the hole in the middle.

Use needle nosed pliers (just trust me on this) to hold the tiny bell and put a small dab of glue on the bell and stick it to the bottom of the bow.

A Maisie Ornery or another favorite sheep ornie :-)

It's starting to look a little like Christmas around here, but it sure doesn't feel like Christmas.  Yes, I was making these outside on the porch watching the sheep graze on the still pretty darn green grass. It was something crazy like 60 some degrees this afternoon.  Gorgeous. 

I realize it's getting a little late in the game, but I do have a small basket of Maisie Orneries ready to go.  As I was typing out the directions, I thought I could probably put together a kit to make your own as well.  Any interest?  

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