Woolly snowmen were one of the first things I ever felted and they were a big hit with family and friends. I have developed more felting skills since my first projects, and have created much more difficult sculptures, but I still come back to the snowmen. They are my best sellers. I have been asked many times how long it takes me to make a snowman, and I always have to answer . . I don’t know for sure. There are many steps involved in making them starting at the very beginning:
- Shearing day- Shearing day is BIG here at Bear Creek. We hire a professional shearer to come and shear our sheep. We shear our 25 sheep in March right before lambing. We lay out big sheets of plywood for the shearer to stand on and shear the sheep where it is clean. My 4 children are in charge of catching the sheep and bringing them to the shearer. This is usually not a big task as most of our sheep have been shown for 4-H and are already halter-broke. The entire fleece is shorn off in one piece. My husband grabs the fleece and throws it on a mesh table where we skirt the fleece. When skirting we remove the entire outside edge of the fleece to remove the unwanted wool from the neck, belly and rear end. We then pick out any vegetable matter and roll up the fleece and put it in a gunny sack.
- Wool Processing- The wool is then sent to a woolen mill to be washed and carded. The lower quality wool is washed here at Bear Creek and used in the insides of the sculptures.
- I use the washed low quality wool from the sheep bellies and necks for the insides of the snowmen. I wet felt the wool into ball shapes. This is such a long stinky process that the kids will sometimes run and hide when it is time to take this project on.
- Once the balls are made out of the yucky wool, I take the beautiful carded wool and felt it onto the balls.
- Spinning – I make my yarn the old fashioned way. I dye my own wool or purchase beautifully hand painted wool and then I spin it into yarn using my spinning wheel. I usually spin about 4 ounces of wool at a time, and this can take an entire day. I can make many hats and scarves out of 4 ounces.
- Knitting – I hand knit the scarves and hats while listening to my boys read to me. (this helps me with my patience)
- I felt the snowman balls together, put on their hats and scarves, make them a nose, and then the part that gives them their personality . . . Their eyes and mouth.
When you look at the pictures of these snowmen and they can’t help but make you smile, now you will know that it takes A LONG TIME to make a snowman.