When I started chemotherapy, I also started to make stuff. I didn’t quite have the energy to skate, which was my usual after-work occupation, so I decided to try making stuff out of felt and embroidery thread.

I’d done this years ago in a fit of pregnancy hormones. My husband and I had never really decorated for Christmas, but that year I threw such a crying fit that he went out and bought me a small tree. Then I made ornaments for the tree, figuring that little soft ornaments would be perfect for my unborn (???) child, because she couldn’t hurt herself on them. Again, I wasn’t really thinking straight. But we still use these ornaments year after year, and my daughter loves them.

I quickly realized that felt is pretty easy to work with! As long as a shape can be abstracted, it can be turned into a feltie. I’ve made many diverse things at this point (including, notably, the head of Frida Kahlo, which I’ll show in some other post), but I found myself most drawn to folk art.

The Dalahäst, or Dala horse, is a folk art item from Dalarna, Sweden. The most popular and well-known one is painted bright red with harness details in white, green, yellow and blue. I came across a tutorial for making little dala horse ornaments, and decided to try it too, but with a little more felt and a little less embroidery.

So then I sketched out the design and cut it out so that I could use it as a pattern. This is about four inches tall.

I cut the felt…

And then I sewed the damned thing together. I was kind of tentative with one side, and then went nuts on embroidery with the other. I used a simple split stitch with a few French knots for embellishment, and blanket stitch around the edges.

I am the least careful person ever with sewing, and barely know how, but I realized while doing this project that the most important part is the cutting. If something isn’t cut quite right, it’s not going to look very good.

So there you have it!

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