Say hello to my very first Butzemann, Schaeffer der Nei! “Der Nei” means “the new”, because Schaeffer is the first Butzemann of his line. His name means “steward”, which was chosen both to reflect the Urglaawe value of Stewardship, and to reflect the hope that he and his descendants will be good stewards of the land they protect.
I knitted Schaeffer from 100% sheep’s wool. He’s stuffed with the “crops” of last year, which, in my tiny apartment, means a lot of dried orchid flowers and a couple of dried leaves from other houseplants. To fill out his stuffing, I added worn out socks, a step I think my frugal “make do and make mend” Deitsch ancestors would have approved of. He also has some bits of yarn left over from both his own construction and from a knit/crochet blanket I’m assembling that will be donated to a local homeless shelter. I also created tiny fabric runes and a heart for him, and added my personal good wishes for him written out on paper.
A Butzemann is presented with a gift of clothing by his creator. Since my Butzemann is a miniature indoors version, I had to use some baby clothes, as well as some creative folding and pinning, to suit his small size. Maybe next year my knitting or crochet skills will have advanced enough to knit his entire outfit too. But I think this outfit looks very nice on him! And baby clothes were far less expensive and more appropriate looking than doll clothes, a fact that really surprised me.
I wanted to share the process I used to make Schaeffer. You can see the pattern I used on Wee Folk Art. I used the 12 inch (largest) version of the pattern. I chose knitting because I’m faster with yarn than I am with a needle and thread. However, it’s still pretty time-consuming to knit an entire Butzemann. Next year I will definitely get started constructing him earlier, whatever method I end up using! I saved some of the leftover bits of yarn from making him this year, to form part of the stuffing of his descendant, or next year’s Butzemann. It just seemed like a nice symbolic way to reinforce the connection between them–although that connection is also created by the dried “crops” of this year going into next year’s Butzemann.
Some people have more than one Butzemann. I imagine that, in the future, when I also have outdoor land to look after, I will probably have at least one full-sized Butzemann and continue with the miniature version for my houseplants. I think he’s very charming. Just look at that happy plant spirit face! Who wouldn’t love a face like that?
I felt that Schaeffer’s tiny pockets were just begging for little gifts to be tucked inside. I gave him beans, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds, all of which are intended to represent and bring abundance, prosperity, and fertility, to both Schaeffer and the land and plants that he protects. Beans in particular are a traditional offering in Urglaawe, one that is given to the land whenever any plants are harvested. My orchids wouldn’t do so well if I gave them beans directly, but Schaeffer seems happy to hold on to the beans for them!
Schaeffer will live supported by a nice stake in the biggest plant pot I have, which happens to be a very large and healthy spider plant, with a profusion of enormous baby spiders dangling from it. The spider plant obligingly grew to one side of the pot, almost as if leaving a space for a Butzemann to join it in the future. For the last year that I have been planning to welcome a Butzemann into my home, this is the location I had intended, and I’m very glad it worked out so well. I had no problem putting the stake in without damaging the plant, and the space left is just the right size for Schaeffer. Imagine that!