Introduction: Needlefelting a Pocket Yeti / Ickabog
With so much time on my hands during the lockdown, I've been reading a lot. One book that I've been following with particular interest is The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling, a fairytale that she's been releasing online in daily installments since May. The titular Ickabog is a boogeyman-like monster with huge white eyes that supposedly roams the northern marshes. If you want to read the story, here's a link to the website: www.theickabog.com
SPOILER ALERT: In Chapter 51, the Ickabog turned out to be real after all and living in a cave to the far north. It's described as a massive big-bellied humanoid, covered with a tangle of coarse green hair, with huge shaggy paws that have a single claw apiece. After reading this description, I really wanted to enter Rowling's online competition for children ages 7-12 to submit their art and get the chance to be published in the physical book. I, sadly, am a few years too old to enter. So, naturally, I made an Ickabog anyways.
Having quite a bit of experience with needlefelting, I made my Ickabog out of wool with a wire frame. I wanted to make this into my first Instructable, so I gathered my supplies and a camera and got to work. What I ended up with was a depressed-looking furry green Bigfoot-like creature with a big belly, big eyes, and two nasty wire claws that serve nicely for catching on clothing. Mission accomplished! Time to start the Instructable! Except my camera somehow malfunctioned and all the pictures got corrupted. In the face of this tragedy, I decided to start over and make another monster. I was pretty sick of green wool by then, so I made a more traditional Bigfoot creature instead- the noble Himalayan yeti. Today, I'm going to teach you how to needlefelt a pocket yeti. Let's get started!
First, you need to know how to needlefelt. If you don't know how, go away and don't come back until you've learned how. Just kidding. Just get a barbed needle and start stabbing the wool.
- Unspun sheep wool for felting. The amount depends on how tightly you felt your yeti. My yeti weighed about 50 grams total when completed. Yetis are a snowy or rocky color, ranging from grey to white to blue. An Ickabog is green, the color of marsh weeds, with white circles around their eyes. (You can make a Sasquatch if you use brown or black.) You'll also want a slightly different color for the paws. For my yeti, I used grey for the main body and blue for the paws. I also used some curly wool locks for the final layer of fur.
- Wire for the skeleton. I used gauge 18 copper wire, but the type doesn't really matter.
- A pair of yeti eyeballs. I used little glass beads. Real eyes would be inhumane!
- A felting needle
- A foam block
- Wire-cutting pliers
- A regular sewing needle
Step 1: Make the Skeleton
I bent the end of my wire into a large triangle (the foot). Then I stretched the wire up for the leg, bent it sideways to make the hip, and continued straight up for the back.
Next, I made the head. Because I wanted to give my yeti a more cylindrical than spherical shape, I twisted it into a bullet-like shape.
After that, I went down to the other foot. I twisted the "back" wires together to make them extra strong. By the time I cut the wire at the foot, I'd used about 50 cm of wire.
These are simple. I bent small triangles (hands) at the ends of a 28 cm piece of wire. Then to attach them to the body, I wrapped the center around the spine.
The only structural difference between the yeti and the Ickabog are the arms. The Ickabog has straight wire arms,
Step 2: Make the Body
Wrap a skein of gray wool tightly around the spine and head and felt it securely on. Felt some extra wool onto the front and back of the head to make it round and not squashed. Then continue wrapping and felting to make the head symmetrical.
I used a lot of wool and felted it very tightly because I wanted my yeti to be tough and sturdy, not squishy. I did leave some looseness around the shoulders and hips to ensure a smooth join.
It's better to make the yeti too small than too big, so you can add on more wool to get it to the proper proportions. Throughout my projects, I constantly add on a bit more wool or reshape a part as the creature changes shape.
Throughout this project, be careful not stab the needle into the wire. Keep an extra needle around anyways, just in case.
Step 3: Make the Limbs
Felt the end of a strip of wool to the shoulder. Wrap it around the arm and felt it tightly. Then add on wool until the arm reaches the appropriate size and shape. Flatten the "hand" into a paw-like shape. (I decided to leave out thumbs, for the sake of simplicity.) Repeat on the other arms. I used the same method for the legs, but paid much more attention to the feet. They need to have flat bottoms to keep the yeti stable, and they should be disproportionately large. (They are Bigfoot feet, after all.)
Bend the limbs as far back as they will go to find gaps, and fill the gaps in to make a smooth limb-body join.
Step 4: Add the Paw Pads
Take a piece of blue wool roughly the size of a pea and felt it flat onto the hand. This will be the palm. Then felt on four tiny blue dots for the fingers. For the thumb, felt another dot, but offset it slightly to the inner side of the hand.
Do the same thing for the feet, but on a larger and longer scale. I placed the thumb pad on the inside here too. While I was working on the feet, I flattened them as well as I could so the yeti could stand up unsupported.
Step 5: Sew on the Eyes
This is the simplest step. Get two blue glass beads, a needle, and a length of thread. Run the thread from the back of the head and sew on the first eye. Then bring the thread across the face, just below the surface. Pull it out, sew on the second eye, then run the thread back to the back of the head. Tie the ends together securely and pull them into the inside of the yeti. Felt down the areas around the eyes to give the face some definition.
Step 6: Add the Fur
This step is just to clean up any imperfections visible on the surface. I took a lock of wool and felted the narrow gold-tinted tip to the center of the yeti's forehead. Then I stretched it backwards and felted it down the spine, tight enough so it wouldn't come away but loose enough so that the curls still had definition.
I took a second lock, felted its tip to the same spot, and felted it along a slightly angled path. I continued like this until the entire body, except for the face, was covered by a series of locks radiating from the forehead and dripping down into a shaggy cascade of fur. Then I wrapped the limbs in their own locks (careful not to cover the paw pads) and felted it on.
The final step was to decide what to do about the face. I tried making a mouth on the Ickabog by felting down a line of wool, but it looked weird, so I decided no (visible) mouth for the yeti. Instead, I gave it a big droopy mustache, similar to those worn by the Yetis in Rise of the Guardians.
Step 7: How to Train Your Yeti
You are expected to devote all your free time to taking care of your yeti. Yetis are very needy and require lots of attention and pampering. Yetis need to spend an hour in the freezer every day- if you forget, they will spill your coffee on the floor. If you ignore your yeti and play video games instead, they will unplug your device or disconnect you from the internet. If you forget to feed your yeti, they will break into the fridge, overeat, grow to the full size of a wild yeti, destroy your house, and run off into the mountains.
To prevent any of these catastrophes from happening, I recommend spending quality time with your yeti. Take it to work with you. Bring it to a restaurant and treat it to some thukpa (but don't let it eat too much!). Play Sho with it. In short, treat your yeti as part of your family.
If you are following all these rules and still having trouble with your yeti, please go to www.pocketyeti.org to chat with and get advice from trained yetiologists.
Second Prize in the
Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge