May 25, 2020
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Maine author’s new book explores daily practice of making gnomes

Do you have a daily ritual? Perhaps it’s waking up and immediately making coffee. Perhaps it’s morning yoga. Or maybe it’s texting that special someone to say “good morning.”

Daily rituals can be anything … even gnome-making, as one Maine author did during a yearlong project that she’s documented in a new book.

“The Gnome Project: One Woman’s Wild and Woolly Adventure,” by Jessica Peill-Meininghaus, follows the author, a wife and mother of four, for a year as she decides to find follow-through in her life by adopting a daily practice of creating little woolen gnomes.

And that’s what happens, page after page, as Peill-Meininghaus explores her yearlong journey creating hundreds of little gnomes. What’s more is that Peill-Meininghaus continued her gnome-making despite big life changes — including a cross-country move to Maine and her children’s decision to cease homeschooling in favor of public school — things, she acknowledges, that would have made her quit in the past.

“I think the biggest thing [that changed for me] is I really began to have confidence. I trusted myself in a way that I had never been able to trust myself in the steadfastness that I didn’t think I had. I really felt that the people around me were capable of it and I wasn’t,” said Peill-Meininghaus in a phone interview. “What it did was help me tell myself a new story that had a lot more possibility.”

At the end of the year, Peill-Meininghaus decided to do something equally as life-changing: stop making gnomes for a year.

“That was so weird. I was like, ‘Is this going to be a relief?’” said Peill-Meininghaus.

But it wasn’t.

“It was oddly disorienting. It’s kind of like when you’re standing in front of people … and you don’t know where to put your hands,” she said.

She felt like something was missing. So at the end of that second year, she immediately started making gnomes again.

These days, she continues making her gnomes and is proud of the life changes “The Gnome Project” brought to her.

“It takes courage to trust yourself, I think,” said Peill-Meininghaus

Written in short, digestible chapters, this is a book that’s great for reading in those little pockets of time in the day — like while waiting for the school bus to drop the kids home, eating breakfast or while waiting for dinner to cook.

So far, the new author says she’s received a good response from readers who’ve contacted her.

“There’s a lot of enthusiastic response and a lot of people identify with this idea of not being able to follow through,” said Peill-Meininghaus. “That’s my favorite — hearing from people who’ve been inspired.”

Peill-Meininghaus will be signing copies of her book and showcasing some of her gnomes during the Bangor Art Walk 5-8 p.m. Friday at The Briar Patch on Central Street. She also will be giving a book talk and felting demonstration 11 a.m.-2 p.m. June 6 and noon-3 p.m. June 7 at the Maine Fiber Frolic at the Windsor Fairgrounds in Windsor. For more information and other upcoming events, visit her website,

“The Gnome Project” is available where books are sold.


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