I love learning new things. This last week’s Zoom needle felting classes were hosted with Vesterheim Folk Art School (based in Decorah, Iowa), with a class that proved to be so popular we added a second date to accommodate the waiting list, which also filled up in just a matter of days from opening registration. The project of choice was needle felting a gnome – or nisse (said niss-ah), as they are called in Norway.
I had grown up with the fantastically watercolor-illustrated gnome book by Will Huygen and Rien Poortvliet, showing the classic blue-and-red dressed characters living in their natural habitat in remote northern Europe. Gnome is the German word for these small, human-like creatures of folklore, while in Sweden the name of choice is tomte. In this classic gnome book, these characters are stewards of the forest, helping the injured or distressed woodland animals, picking berries, and keeping cozy in their homes beneath giant trees.