On these cold afternoons, when we might have gone out to play or had activities in the fall, we have been settling into some crafts. After the fire has warmed up the house all morning, we can usually agree that it’s not too chilly at the table (a whole 20 feet from the woodstove). Often there is drawing or clay, but many days we end up with piles of wool spread across the table (and floor) for needle felting.
Every time I have taught needle felting to the kids at our homeschool co-op, I start with the basics: you need a foam mat and a very sharp needle that has tiny barbs on it. When you poke the wool with the barbed needle, it interlocks the fibers bit by bit, and eventually you will have a dense shape that is very solid, but you can always add more to the surface and build up your creation. The kids are interested; some try it for 10 minutes, others will work on a project for 45 minutes. But by the end of the two-hour morning session, it’s always the mothers who are still at the table, stabbing that fiber and telling me with a grin, “This is so satisfying!” I am sure it has nothing to do with the stabbing.
I can see why the kids enjoy it as well – all the colors! And the three-dimensional sculpting that you can do with felted wool. It just begs to be turned into a little mouse or rabbit or other cartoonish and cuddly creature. The kids do poke themselves occasionally, but no one ever seems too upset.
With busy hands and an audiobook to take our minds off to lands of dragons and wizards, it’s a lovely way for my boys to pass the afternoon at home (and maybe they don’t notice that I am at my desk working).
Recently, after an hour of needle felting, I shared some videos of Andrea Love’s stop-motion animation, created with needle felting and fiber. And I happened to have a stop-motion app on my phone. And a tripod.
Once he got the gist of it, my 10-year-old was off and running. Or filming. He steadily moved his felted mice pace by pace, setting up the image that he wanted. How delighted he was when he got to see the story play back to him!
We had married the high-tech and low-tech, the smartphone and the wool, the story-telling and the video. It’s a fascinating time here, this winter. It feels like we needed these cold afternoons to bring ideas together – the summer adventures, the homestead chores, the books we have read, the inspiration we have gathered, they are all simmering in our minds and new ideas are steadily emerging. Maybe it’s the boredom, or maybe it’s the winter hibernation, I mean, quiet days, that has let our minds work out these ideas. We sift through them, and I gladly encourage some of the ones that won’t destroy furniture or leave hours of clean-up.