Friday, December 21, 2012

52 Weeks of Fairy Tales #43 - The Elves and The Shoemaker

With Christmas just around the corner, elves have been on my mind, so for this week's fairy tale, I have decided to share the classic Grimm's Tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker.

The Elves and the Shoemaker is fun little tale that fits right in with Christmas time.  The story begins with a kind but poor shoemaker and his wife, they have come upon hard times, and are struggling to make ends meet. They are very charitable and have often given their shoes to the poor.  The shoemaker can barely afford to buy leather to make his shoes, and is down to his last bit of leather.  With his last bit of leather, the shoemaker cuts out the pieces for one last pair of shoes, as it is getting late, he sets aside his work and heads off to sleep, so he can wake up bright and early and finish the shoes.

That night, elves come into the workshop, and working as fast and as perfectly as ever, the elves make the leather into a very finely made pair of shoes.  The next morning the shoemaker is very surprised to find the shoes already made, and is impressed with the fine craftsmanship.  The shoes sell right away for a very nice price, and the shoemaker is able to buy more shoe leather.  That evening he cuts out more shoe pieces and heads up to bed.  Again the elves arrive that evening and turn the leather pieces into very finely made shoes.

The shoemaker is quite surprised again when he sees the finely made shoes.  The shoes sell very well, and the shoemaker is able to stock up his supplies and his business begins to do very well.  Every evening the elves work making shoes, and every morning the shoemaker is happy and thankful to see the shoes.

This goes on for some time, and the shoemaker begins to wonder who is making these wonderful shoes that have helped him and his wife out so much.  So the shoemaker and his wife make a plan to stay up late one evening, and hide, while they watch for who makes their shoes.  When evening arrives, the shoemaker and his wife finally see the elves who have been making the shoes.  

The next day the shoemaker and his wife decide to do something nice for the elves.  So the wife makes up tiny clothing for the elves, and the shoemaker makes tiny pairs of shoes.  They leave out the gifts for the elves that evening (in some versions there is a Christmas twist, the gifts are left out for the elves on Christmas, along with some some food). 

When the elves arrive that evening, they are so happy to find their gifts, and they put on their new clothes and shoes.  Then, because whenever and elf receives a gift of clothing they are free to leave, the elves leave and are never seen again.  Everything turns out great for the shoemaker and his wife, they have a thriving business now, and although they will miss the elves along with their perfect tiny stitches, they were very thankful for the help that they had had.  They live happily ever after.

The idea of helping elves is found in other folk traditions as well, some of my favorite stories have to do with the Scandinavian Tomten, who are like helpful elves around farms and such.  One tradition is to leave them porridge during Christmas to thank them for their help throughout the year.  Tomorrow I will be posting a list of some of my favorite Christmas storybooks this year, including one about the Tomten.  

I had a lot of fun with the craft for this story, originally I thought I would make tiny elf clothing with little shoes, but when looking for craft ideas I came across a pattern for these wonderful tiny elf shoes, and knew right away I would enjoy making them.

Here is a link to the pattern and craft idea through my Pinterest page.  The whole website looks like fun and is called Jolly Allsorts.  

Elf Shoes

I decided to make mine a dark red with dark green stitching and a jingle bell on the toe (I love Jingle Bells!). They were easy to sew up, using a simple blanket stitch, and using wool felt, which is sturdier than standard craft felt, I also stuffed the toes with a little wool roving to help the shoes keep their shape.  I think these would be so fun to make to hold little gifts, or as a little table favors filled with candies, I definitely hope to make more of these cute little elf shoes!

Between Christmas and school activities I have fallen quite behind in my fairy tale posts, I will attempt to catch up before the New Year, but will most likely have to continue into January so I don't have to rush through the crafts. :)  I am looking forward to sharing a couple more Christmas and winter themed fairy tales during these next couple of weeks.  I hope everyone is having fun getting prepared for Christmas, we are in full Santa's workshop mode here as Christmas cookie baking will begin this evening, I am looking forward to a weekend of baking and Christmas specials!


  1. Hi April! I saw you over at Six Sisters link party. I just love these little elf shoes! I am your latest follower. I hope you come check out my blog too!

  2. I love your elf shoes, espeicially the bells on the toes. Did you see my shoes that I made earlier in December? They look really similar.

  3. I also love these elf shoes. I want to make 'em! Thanks for visiting Bridgit's Bell and your nice comments.

  4. I love this story! I wish I had a elf come in the night that would help me out with some of my stuff like help me get my blog more organized and give it the look I really want for it, lol. That would be nice huh. I wish I had an elf to come and get rid of this dumb flu bug I got:( I have my high school reunion tomorrow, I wanna feel better by that time.

    Well, I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying the holidays.



  5. So beautiful, April! I love this story and love your elf shoes! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!


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