Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kneehugger Elves

You might remember them?  They were really popular in the 1950s and 60s.

And when I was a kid, we had four kneehugger elves to place on our tree...one for myself, my older sister and my two younger brothers.

Mine was this red guy which still hangs on my tree today...



In recent years, the kneehugger elf has experienced a revival of sorts due to the popularity of The Elf on the Shelf book/doll set.

In my family, we exchange family names.  This year, I got my brother John's family and he has three girls.

It took me a few years to source out the vintage rubber faces for the elves but I finally had them for Christmas this year...


And made them each their own elf...


First, I worked out a pattern and made the bodies...


The faces did not have a neck or a back so I used a styrofoam ball to round out the head.  That ended up working out wonderfully because I could slip a bamboo skewer into the "head" to help connect it to the body.

A little stuffing, some simple sewing and folded paper to give the arms and legs dimension...


And the elves were mostly complete.

I embroidered monogram patches for each of the girls' elves...


And used fur from that old vintage hat I've been cutting apart over the years (I used that same fur on Kate Middleton's mitten last Christmas)...



Some jingle bells and mercury glass beads around the velvet collar...


And vintage millinery flowers, leaves and ornaments for a Christmas bouquet...


And my little elves were complete. 


I tucked a card into each of their boxes explaining the history and tradition of the kneehugger elf in our family...



They immediately remembered that their father's little green elf hangs on their tree at home.

I hope to make one for each of my nieces in the years to come...


Next time I'll show you the crazy version I made for our annual Crazy Quilting Ornament Exchange...

Happy day!

31 comments:

coral-seas said...

They are so cute! I bet your nieces adore them and will hang them on their own trees every year. Who knows, one day they make them for little ones of their own :-)

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and wish you a Very Happy New Year!

crafty diane said...

So love your elfs!!! I have two that my aunt gave me over 40 years ago and I just love them!
Blessings,
Diane

Marty52 said...

How very cute-a-riffic, Ms. Susan. You do come up with the best ideas!

Chocolates4Breakfast (TerriBoog) said...

Those are adorable! I think you should sell them - they're WAY cuter than the current version. Well done!

Rose said...

I have a collection of these elves from the 50's and 60's. I love them and have always wanted to make some but have not been able to find the heads. Would you share your source?
Your new ones look terrific and have so much detail.

liniecat said...

What a delightful tradition to continue! love the upturned noses on the elfish faces lolol

Laurie said...

Susan! these are the cutest! We had these on our tree as kids. I would love to know where you found the elf heads!!

Gerry Krueger said...

They are absolutely adorable and definitely OOAK. Only you could find a source for vintage elf heads... Bravo... Gerry K.

Jillayne said...

Your elves are so cute and charming - I love their happy little faces!
What a wonderful idea, and a beautiful gift.
Visiting your blog is always such an inspiration!
Happy New Year to you, and to your family,

jillayne

Shirlee Fassell said...

They are wonderful!! You could have a class on these little guys!!

Wendy said...

Your elfs are so cute! We had them on our tree as well when I was a little girl.

Elizabeth said...

So very exciting to have you back amoung us!! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you!! That siad now I can rave and swoon and fall all over myself going on and on about these incredible elves!! youa re awonder!! i can't believe you sometimes but then again , I remind myself, this IS Susan you are thinking about so OF COURSE you can belive it!! She is a one woman miracle worker and needle working magician !! I think about how your Mom must feel seeing what you are doing for your e=dear nieces, carrying ona wonderful tradition and making it so very extra specail for your family!! She is so very proud of her daughter , I am positive of that!! Big Hugs to you Susan!!!

flyingbeader said...

How adorable and something for them to cherish

Createology said...

Oops I combined my comments on the previous post. Uber cute kneehugger elves you have created. Blissful...

Cindy Is Crafty said...

How adorable! I wish I was one of your nieces. Lucky duckies!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

At the end of every Ray Bradbury show, he was sitting at his desk and he would say "People ask me where do I get my ideas".

That question often crosses my mind when I visit here. I envision you sitting at the table in your studio with a Cheshire Cat smile, eyes lifted to the side looking at the ceiling asking that very same question.

I remember those elves well, only mine were ceramic, picked out at the Dime Store, lovingly given to my mother. For years they sat on a knick knack shelf in the kitchen.
xx, Carol

Suztats said...

I remember little elves on our Christmas tree when I was little. I wonder if they were knee-huggers, too? Yours are so cute with the monograms!

Dianne said...

Brilliant - Great work on the elves. Something to be treasured for sure.

Rachel said...

Your elves are enchanting - I'm sure they will be treasured!

Lorraine said...

Are these adorable or what! A memorable gift for the girls to treasure.

Cathy K said...

What a great idea, so totally YOU! We had lots of these elves in red, green and white when I was a kid. And some of them were upright, not just the knee-huggers. All I have left is a red and a green knee-hugger. Must collect the rest! Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!

Catherine said...

Will you ever cease to amaze me!?! I sure hope not!! Happy New Years to you and your family! Looking forward to seeing all that you create in the coming year!

Sandra Henderson said...

sniff, sniff... so gosh darned cute and PRECIOUS!~! you are so sweet. That is the nicest thing ever. What a wonderful person you are.

Have you seen the UNDERWATER FLIGHT at the Portland airport? I will try to put the link to the blog article and video. It is so incredible I of course though of you immediately. In case this does not work, it's over at Wokeyworld blog and it is the Dec. 22 post.

http://willywonkyquilts.blogspot.com/2012/12/underwater-flight-urban-aquarium-at-pdx.html

leilani said...

So glad you are back blogging! Are you sharing your source for the elf heads?

Oh yes, wishing you a wonder-filled 2013!

margaret said...

I so so want one of these!! They are so lovely, your nieces are going to be very lucky girls and I am sure they will treasure these like you have treasred yours from childhood

black bear cabin said...

i cant believe you were able to find the little elf faces...those are adorable, and a family treasure for sure! LOVE IT!

Mosaic Magpie said...

I still have my elf from when I was a young girl...I am thinking it must nearly 50 years old. Didn't they originally hold a small box of candy? I love your updated version and look forward to seeing the "crazy" one.
Deb

Judy S. said...

I'll bet your adorable elves were a huge hit, Susan. You are SO creative! Best wishes for a wonderful 2013!

Lilli said...

Very touching story! All the best for this year!

coral-seas said...

I had not heard of knee hugger elfs before your post so thought that they must have been an American craze. When I visited friends at the weekend I noticed under her tree a small sledge containing 3 knee hugger elfs! They had exactly the same faces as the ones you used, as well. I probably would not have noticed them if I had not seen your post first.

Brenda said...

Hi! I did not have an elf, sadly, but I have enjoyed looking at your photos and the craftsmanship you have displayed here. I am in awe. Would you be willing to share the origins of your tradition with me? I am writing an academic paper. For instance, what did you do with your elves on the tree and what was the story? Was it at all like the newer story with the popular book? Please let me know. astateheritagestudent@gmail.com

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