Making little critters

I have been on a monster kick, and it all started with one booth in the Earth Angels tent at this year's Country Living Fair. The 2010 fair was in Stone Mountain, Georgia this year, and it travels the country, so my mom and I figured this was a good opportunity for us to see the creativity and the fall goodies without traveling far. We didn't know we'd meet this little rabbit, who has since been named Izmir.

Her body is made of felted wool pieces, mostly hand sewing, with little bits of other nice materials, like her little cream-colored cashmere sweater. I must give credit to Valerie Weberpal, the artist who works with the Earth Angels artists' guild, and you can find more of her monsters (for sale too) on her site.

This got me thinking, instantly, of my Mom's stash of felted wool, and how I could put together all these pieces. As inspiration, we bought her, for a whopping $80. But we know the value of hard handwork when we see it, and so it was worth the price. (She's about 12" tall, plus ear height.)

So we began the process of creating Otis, Izmir's boyfriend, and a friendly monster made of wools and cottons and especially huggable. Once finals were over, I had much more time to bring him to life, and I had my Mom's advice with his color scheme and with the construction of his very dapper vest. His long, dangly arms are scraps from the arms of a sweater my mom had knitted long ago, and has since turned into a pillow. She cut off the arms, giving me perfect multicolored monster extremities. His nose was inspired by another large schnoz that I had seen in Valerie's pile of adorable critters, on a monster named Alister.  I love the extra dimension. Other little touches and textures were added from my stash of ribbons, fabric scraps, and embroidery threads. He was a work of hand-sewn fun and love. Making Otis was pure fun, and he's just for me.










While Otis was in the making, I was also itching to make another, gigantic monster, that would be more like a pillow. There is a similar idea in Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing for Baby book, but I wanted to do a bit more than what she suggested, and definitely wanted a cuter face than the stamp-on one in the book. I again hand-stitched a face using some of my favorite wool felt and a sweater scrap that had the perfect murky colors for his smile. His ears and limbs are the softest stripey flannel, and his whole body is flannel too, so he's cozy. I stuffed him with the best fiber fill on the planet, Cluster Stuff, so he is basically a big, friendly pillow who is also a monster. It was suggested that his name be Redding, to match his needle-and-thread twin Otis.

This whimsical family of critters will now grace my apartment with coziness and love, and a dose of simple cuteness. What fun to make little things with personalities and faces and names. A good way to use up some of the names I love and collect, since I certainly won't be having enough children to use all of them.