If you don’t gnome me by now….

26 Oct

Gnome hat…

Originally uploaded by CleverGirlBek

Here’s the long story… There are more pics if you click on the flickr box on the right hand side of this page….

I wanted to make a safe and fun costume for my kid, with a heirloom quality hat (all of his Halloween costumes have, thus far, included a hat for his hat collection…I wanted to continue with that)

So how did this costume happen? Well, I have loved garden gnomes ever since I was a child and encountered my first one in the Lange’s garden…. Fast forward another 30 years and it finally pops into my head, “Eureka! I’m going to dress my kid as a Garden Gnome for Halloween!” My hubby suggested otherwise, he suggested we let Alex choose his costume this year (we had this discussion while trick-or-treating last year with our little pumpkin)… So I merely planted the seed in my little guy’s ear and since then he has been announcing his love for Gnomes. So here we are…

First I knit up a ginormous hat, in the round, completely freestyle on size 11 needles, I cast on 80-something or 90 something stitches, I decreased at uneven intervals… I can do basic knitting things and have done a few hats, really short scarves, and a couple of 1/2 shirts all because I’m really pretty lousy at following directions- I get bored and tend to wander off down another path… (this happens with everything. Yes, I do have clinically diagnosed ADD but even with treatment I think my spirit is a little too “free-wheeling”… I like to do-it-myself, in my own style…and I usually throw instructions away or read them once and let my brain and creativity fill in the rest)…

Anyways, so I was left with one gigantic hat (you can see the hat here before I shrunk it down): http://www.flickr.com/photos/clevergirl/1526739518/
just hit the back button on your browser to come back here)

Then I gave it a thorough fulling in the washing machine with some laundry soap (handmade laundry soap! thanks mugwortmaggies for making the best natural and handmade laundry soap- mmmmmm. pink grapefruit is my favorite!)

and it shrunk down to the size seen here- which fit perfectly on my little guy’s head (my kid, my hubby, and I are all bigheads)… I played with eyebrows and beard some more but I wasn’t happy even though the mohair from http://emmasdaughterdesigns.etsy.com was sublime! So I ordered more of this fabulous mohair (mill ends) from emmasdaughterdesigns and I slept on it for days…I took off the original beard I had made and went to town…

Eureka. Wet felting and fulling were great as a base but needle felting might let me get a little more detailed and textured- let me keep some of the smooth silkiness of the delicious mohair mill ends….

So I ordered a felting foam pad (thick enough so I could felt on my lap, while watching TV, and not poke the daylights out of my legs) and needles from http://woolpets.etsy.com

They arrived and I went to work… I redid the eye brows by needle felting (that delicious mohair again) and leaving the ends free and soft and shiny and fabulous (just like real old man-gnome eyebrows)….

So now you might be asking yourself- why on earth are the eyebrows on the hat and not on a mask portion or glued to the person wearing them? My little guy has sensory issues and he’s 4. I had the hat with the original brows and beard drying on top of my headless mannequin and my kiddo just lost it- I mean here we have this headless mannequin that he begins to accept as part of the decor and suddenly it looks like a faceless Santa Claus in the night shadows cast by the parking lot lights through the shutters… Eeeek! The good part about this is that there is no obstruction to the visual field (by the hat, by the beard it really depends on the person wearing it…your mileage may vary :-) so it’s a little safer, in that aspect, than a mask…

So I also cut off the original wet felted beard, chopped the ‘burns, and used it as a base for longer, more flowing (looking) locks and gentle waves of that (amazing) mill-end mohair….

Then another problem- how on earth was I going to get a kid who finds pants too cumbersome in the house to wear a beard? I wound up using an old, really hideous headband (a smooth, fabric covered one) as an open collar/choker…. I sewed (with white cotton and clear nylon thread) the beard onto this at the right height and perfection- it can easily be taken off and put on again, it leaves your mouth free (if you crane your neck up you could theoretically eat something with the beard on)….

I then knit a belt for him and used felted wool bits to make orange “buttons” (the belt closes by an “old school” windy button and string method) and a little hanging acorn at the end of the winding part….

I decorated a purchased watering can (hey, I’ve been in bed with a fever all week, I couldn’t make everything this year) and decked it out with vintage (30+ years old) wood mushrooms and green plastic sushi grass stickers (that I make and use on my packaging as well as sell in my shop on occasion)…The watering can serves as a treat pail for trick-or-treating adventures….

Throw on some 100% cotton leggings, a cotton henley a few sizes to big, and some crocs (we live in Florida, I didn’t want to put him in big boots and we can reuse the crocs when it isn’t cool down here by taking the faux fleece lining out)….

A nice perk of putting this together, aside from the obvious “doing something nice for my favorite kid” is that it took me out of my element and let me think differently, use my squash, use different muscles in my hands, and work with soft, fluffy things…. No, I will not be adding knit goods to my Etsy shop (aside from this costume, which is priced to accurately reflect the amount of work and time that went into this) but it’s certainly nice to have a hobby! :-)


4 Responses to “If you don’t gnome me by now….”

  1. Beag Óg Bramblefoot October 29, 2007 at 10:02 am #

    Very nicely done. Would you consider taking on any bespoke tailoring?

  2. vintage dress January 3, 2008 at 7:51 pm #

    With the 70s and 80s back in style, I just loving vintage clothing from the thrift shops. You can find designers like Chanel and Armani for cheap there. Ebay is great too!

  3. Couple Halloween Costumes October 7, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    Great ideas


  1. ghosts are good company » what are we doing in this dive bar? - October 31, 2007

    […] see how it goes. for now, look how much cuter this child looks as a gnome than i ever will (i just looked at that link as if it were a parenthetical, and said to myself […]

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