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Feeling SHEEP-ish Enough to Make a Wooly Critter?

My little sheep in clover--a wooly ewe made by Mariana Ferrando of Ovejitas de la Patagonia.

Blame this sheepish start on my sister Laurie. It all started last November when she said she’d photo document my Flower-Powered Quilts special exhibition at the World Quilt Festival in West Palm Beach, Florida. Did she? No.

Debora Kochinsky’s prize-winning masterpiece quilt Crazy Sheep from the World Quilt Competition completely transfixed her instead. The result?  Only four shots of her sister Jennifer’s exhibit of 24 quilts and at least a dozen detailed images of Debora’s.

Debora's masterly "Crazy Sheep" quilt with its beautiful hand-stitched details.

Isn't that the most lifelike expression on Debora's sheep?

Yes, it’s a lovely, lovely quilt and the sheep are fabulous—their faces are so alive and so very expressive—but Laurie did say that she’d take my photos so that I could share the experience of Flower-Powered Quilts with my contributors. After all, this was my first curated exhibition unrelated to any sort of book-publicity event.

Alas, Laurie didn’t do her sisterly duty. Plus she’s developed an obsession with sheep that, at least for me, has culminated in the receipt of that quirky wooly ewe from one of her Buenos Aires trips. I like sheep as much as the next person, but really?

That calls for some apt sisterly retribution. By chance I have a pair of sheep ornaments that I made when my kids were babies in one of those ambitious attempts to create annual handcrafted holiday décor. I think I lost momentum back in 1996 when I foreswore eye-straining, miniscule, cross-stitched Santa ornaments for the greater pleasure of quilting. So, as one “sheepish” good deed deserves another, I’m going to make her a fuzzy little critter. (FYI:  My sheepish inspiration came from a long-out-of-business sewing shop in Denver–sorry I don’t know the original source.)

A sheepish family--don't my ornaments look like goofy kids making funny faces for the camera?

Would you like to join me? All you need is felt, wooly scraps (preferably scrap sheepskin as featured here, but yarn or batting could work as well with some tweaking), beads for eyes, and thread to embroider facial details. And, let’s not forget, my favorite crafting tool: a glue gun!

My legs-o-mutton are 3" tall by 4" long, but you can make your sheep any size you want (the leg length closely determines the sheep height). Roll em up like cigars and seal the open edges with hot glue. Pair up and glue 2 legs matching those glued ends. Repeat for the other pair. Stack 2 leg sets and use the hot glue to seal the unit together.

Other than decorations like beads for eyes, bells, embroidery floss, and ribbon, these are the felt units that make a sheep. I traced my thumb to create the head pattern which I then sewed, turned to the right side, and stuffed with wool scraps.

The rest of the sheep-making process is pure improvisation. Stack the body parts and glue in place. Then enrobe the torso in scrap sheepskin, glue together, and trim the pelt to a rounded shape. Check out Debora's lovely sheep faces for design inspiration and then hand stitch the mouth and nose with embroidery floss following the snout seam line. Embellish with beads, bells, and ribbon.

At least you, dear reader, will have a chance to enjoy images of some of the quilts included in the Flower-Powered Quilts special exhibition when they are featured in the August issue of The Quilt Life available in mid-June. (You’ll get to see the floral stylings of my sister-bloggers as well!) And as for Laurie “The Erstwhile Photographer?” Marketing is her true bailiwick and so she’s spreading the word about See How We Sew in cities around the world. This week she’s dropping off promotional postcards at a quilt shop in Amsterdam!  Welkom Nederlandse quilters!

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