Creativity & Meditation – Needle Felting

The latest and greatest art project of mine is needle felting.  I happened to come across this craft at the Nihonmachi Street Fair in SF a few weeks back.  This man (I love that it was a man doing this…) had created some beautiful little animals out of wool.  I thought they were cute but not all that amazing.  But for some reason, the kids and I kept going back to his booth to admire his work.  He explained how each creature is made from wool that he pokes at with a needle or multiple needles until the wool is felted (compacted together) in the shape he wants.  While my son bought his sister a small round animal for her birthday as a surprise I decided I had to try felting.

My sister I came across a felting book at Borders and some wool at a great yarn shop in the Castro (Imagiknit) that carried wool roving (brushed out wool) and felting needles.  I took it home and began my first project, a little cat.  It took hours and was much harder than I imagined.  Think cotton ball that you poke at until it becomes as firm as a tightly wound ball of yarn.

Since that awkward little cat, I have created my own line of “classic toy” replicas which include sock monkeys, raggedy ann, teddy bear and gumby & pokey.  I’m too tired tonight but will get my son to photograph them tomorrow so I can post photos.  They are soooooo adorable, if I say so myself.

I’m learning tricks of the trade with these little creations and made quite an investment in equipment and supplies.  Although you can get by with just a needle or two, a small bit of wool and some recycled foam as a work surface, I have to have every color I may possibly need at the moment I may want it; and because the needles break very easily I need extra needles on hand, and of course who doesn’t want the needle holders that hold multiple needles to make the work go that much quicker.  Needless to say, I’m in for about $150.  Shh, don’t tell my wife.

What I love about needle felting is that it is a very portable craft and even more than that, it is quite meditative.  It is relaxing as the time flies by while I try to felt one more leg or one little detail. It takes hours.  I spent about six hours to complete a five inch sock monkey!

Beyond the 3-d sculpting, I tried my hand at needle felting onto material.  I bought some wool suiting in beautiful solid colors at Discount Fabrics for a great price of  $10/yard!!!  And thanks to the cruel honesty of my niece and sister-in-law I got rid of the “granny” purse I bought to hold my felting paraphenalia and designed my own wool “Mary Poppins” bag that can hold all my wool and tools  with a little needled sock monkey on the front.

I love being creative!  And I love sharing the creativity.  Last week was my 55th birthday.  Happy Birthday to me….  One of the best things about my birthday was, as I sat at the dining table on my birthday eve needling, my daughter cut a piece of wool fabric and started needling something too.  I thought it was a bookmark like I had made for her a couple days prior.  I didn’t get to see what it was until the next morning on my birthday.  Because the kids were going away for the week to Farm School we celebrated my birthday on Sunday instead of Monday.  She had made a small stuffed pillow with “I (heart) You” needled on it!  She wanted to make sure I had a gift on my actual birthday!  But the gift was passing on a new craft to her.  After seeing me needling for just about a week, she was comfortable to create something on her own.

And then there’s Baby Girl, my grand niece, who is only 5.  Needle felting can be pretty dangerouns because the needles are barbed and very sharp.  They also break very easily.  I’ve broken many needles and also poked myself drawing blood on more than one occassion.  But as I sat needling at my brother’s house, BG watched intently and then decided she wanted to do something.  I worked with her embellishing my sister-in-laws piece before she took off with her own style doing some 2-d work on the wool suiting.  Fortunately I had my needle holders with me to make it a safer adventure for her as she poked and poked and poked.  Orange and green and white wool mingling with the crimson wool fibers of the fabric.  That little girl must have spent an hour with me side by side, each of us intent on our own little projects while sharing our creative energy.

It’s late, I’m yawning but what would ten minutes of needling hurt?

Good Night…..

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