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Knot: Art: Needle Felt

On the top of my wardrobe there is a huge skein of beautiful DK merino wool.

Several months ago the cat found this particular skein, dived on it and played with it for some time. It is now a huge scrambled knot of thread. I’ve located both ends, but I just can’t seem to untangle the bit in between…….

Today I have been reflecting on a needle felting workshop that I ran at the beautiful, and tranquil retreat; Breathing Space. Our inspiration was the breathtaking beauty and serenity of our environment, and the monumental paintings of some of the 20th century’s modern masters; the awe inspiring and kaleidoscopic illusions of the early impressionists and the vast, self referential canvases of the colour field painters.

Needle Felt Workshop

With artistic deference we worked our masterpieces not in paint, but in little fluffy scraps of coloured wool.

The artists brush was replaced by a tiny barbed needle, and the canvas was reduced to a small surface just a few cms in diameter.

We mixed our colours by hand, pulling and tugging at the fibres to create just the right mix. The surface was pierced multiple times with the needle which caught the fibres in it’s teeth and dragged them back and forth until they were irreversibly tangled and matted . We watched closely as the colour and texture of the ‘painting’ gradually changed from a soft open web to a dense, richly coloured fabric.

Felt Landscapes

As we worked we exchanged ideas, experiences and stories. We had begun by looking at fine art paintings; monumental, self referential, and intellectual – but we wove our way to the opposite end of the artistic spectrum where the creative process is different; where it is social, interactive, decorative and shared; where the act of creating is more important than the final, fixed object.

Felt Art

By the end of the session the starting point and the finish were clearly visible, but what happened in between was a gloriously tangled process. There was a beginning, and an end, but neither of those things was the meaning of the work. The meaning was in the making, the experience, the knot.

…….some knots are never meant to be undone. My big messy skein of merino will remain as a reminder that beginnings and ends are significant, but the tangled webs in between are where all the best things happen.

You can waste a lot of time trying to undo a knot that is best left well alone.

We’re running another needle felting class very soon – just drop us a line if you’d like to join us.

This blog post is a link in a circle of blogs called Sisterhood Stories. Please hop across to Laura’s blog and leave some love on the way.

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