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Since we got married, John and I have tried to find a new ornament each Christmas we’ve had a tree, something that would have some meaning for us. It’s been a struggle. Most of the ornaments you find in the Christmas shops, or worse, in the Christmas section of department stores, are lacking in soul. My favorite of the lot to date is a glass octopus that reminds me of the nativity octopus costume in Love, Actually, but it’s a strange connection.

This year, we decided to make our own ornament. Here’s my part in it:

John’s part is to build a little balsa wood barn to hang the sheep from. He’s very clever with Sketch-Up, wood glue, and his exacto knife. I’ll add another picture of the completed ornament once he finishes his bit, but I just couldn’t not share this sheep. This little gal represents my first steps down another path of woolly madness: needle felting.

Needle felting is at once both insanely simple and remarkably deadly. The basic concept is that you take a bit of fleece and hold it in your hand while you jab it enthusiastically with tiny, very sharp, very barbed needles. The barbs on the needles rough up the scales of the wool and help them catch each other so the wool sticks to itself. It’s a neat concept, though not one I think I’ll spent much time developing. The needle-felted critters we saw at the fiber festival were a bit creepy, and no one in their right mind wants a gift that’s been sanctified in the creator’s blood. I did, however, enjoy the simplicity of making my little sheep. There was no sewing, no knitting, no nothing but needling in this project.

Well, not nothing, exactly. I did dip my toes into the world of dyeing. See how the face and legs are a slightly darker color? I died a small sample in coffee. Hazelnut-flavored, decaf coffee, to be precise. She smells lovely. John and I have decided that if we ever get real, living sheep, we’ll name our first ewe Hazel, in her honor.

Her collar also makes me, as it is a case-in-point of why I never throw anything even remotely useful away. That bell fell off a Christmas sock in the dryer. I don’t particularly care for bells on my socks, so I never sewed it back on. Glad I didn’t, because I think it suits Hazel better than it ever suited my feet.