Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

By The Fibreside

Knitting and spinning on the Sunshine Coast of BC

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Accepting What Is

Dear Universe,

Thank you for the reminder that there is only so much that I have control over, and that my plans must be flexible to accommodate the things I cannot.

I have starting working my way through Lonna Cunningham’s More Beautiful than Before book on journaling, fibre arts, and mindfulness as part of restarting the brain work I’ve let lapse over the last few months. The first journaling exercise went well, and then it was time to do a little bit of felting. I had the perfect Merino braid dyed across oranges and pinks, a Christmas present from a friend that came with the label “Great for: spinning, thrums, needle-felting, wet-felting, accessories, weaving, other arts and crafts projects.” I set it aside for this exact reason at Christmas, and now was the time to put it to work.

All ready to go!

I wasn’t having the best brain day. I was feeling disconnected, unsettled, tired, and so when we got home in the afternoon, I hoped that sitting down and continuing to work through the book, even if it wasn’t journaling, would give me a bit of a reset. So I carefully read the instructions, set everything out, and started to create my little felted pouch.

Phase 1 complete.

I lay down three thin layers of fibre over top of my resist, soaked it all down with hot soapy water, laid the other sheet of bubble wrap on top, set a timer, and then began to gently agitate the layer to create proto-felt. The timer went off. I checked the fibre. Not terribly felted, if at all. I tried again, a little more aggressively, and then again. And then again.

I have felted before, but not often. I knew the kind of look and feel I wanted for proto-felt, and I wasn’t getting it. “This really isn’t felting,” I thought to myself. “But it’s supposed to. I must just be doing something wrong.” I continued to follow the instructions, turning the piece over, folding in the edges, adding more fibre, soap and water, and proto-felting the other side. Then more aggressively. Then rolling it up in the bubble wrap and rolling on the towel, unrolling, turning, and rolling again. And again, and again, and again. For about and hour and a half. Finally I thought the resist might be bending a bit, so I cut open the fabric, removed the resist, and rinsed it under the tap.

1.5 hours of agitation later…

It was not felt. It was nothing like felt. It fell apart.

My frustration spiked. So much time. So much planning. I’d been saving this fibre specifically for this, it said it was good for wet felting, what was going on? I know you can not felt merino locks by rubbing them wet on a bar of soap; did I put in too much soap? Why was I so terrible?

I almost gave up, went to my bedroom, and cried. But instead, I took a breath, went to my fibre arts storage, and grabbed some Corriedale.

Post-flipping, pre-folding felt (take 2).

Once again, I got myself some hot soapy water, laid down three thin layers of wool over top of my resist, soaked it, and began the process of creating proto-felt. And it did. I turned it over, followed the instructions again, and continued. In short order, the resist was bending, so I cut it out and was left with an actual, solid, felted pocket.

That’s more like it…

Ten more minutes of work reduced it to the size it needed to be, half an hour from when I started over. I was successful.

1.5 hours of agitation on the left, 30 minutes on the right.

But the most important thing was not that I was successful. It was that I started over, and than when I started over, and when suddenly the process was going the way I expected it to, just not in the colours or fibre that I had been planning to use, something loosened up inside my brain. The sense of being disconnected, of not knowing who I was or what I was doing here today, faded. I remembered thinking, “It wasn’t me,” as the fibres felted together and had the character I expected and was described in the book. It wasn’t me.

I realized that, once again, I had gotten so hung up on THE PLAN, the way my cognitive brain tries to control Every. Little. Detail. that I hadn’t trusted myself. That little voice in my brain at the beginning that said, “This isn’t felting,” knew what it was talking about, but I didn’t trust it. I believed the label on the roving and not my own common sense and experience. I should have grabbed a little bit of the fibre, gone to the sink, and tried to make a felt ball. Instead, I continued the process with my emotional brain waving its arms in the air trying to get my attention until my cognitive brain could no longer ignore the obvious. Once again, I have proved that I cannot think my way out of all my problems.

None of my planning, intentions, or sheer force of will would be able to make that fibre felt. Once I finally accepted that and adjusted, I was successful. A doctor once told me that people with chronic pain try so hard to be like the oak tree, but instead we need to be like the bamboo. The oak will shatter in a windstorm, but the bamboo will bend and recover.

This weekend we are going to go try to bring the sailboat across the channel to its new home port. That’s the plan anyway. So Universe, thank you for this reminder at this time, when all I lost was some hours and a little bit of wool. I am going to keep a good eye, an emotional-brain eye, on our actual circumstances. And if the weather, or the boat, or anything else means that we can’t make the crossing, then we won’t. And that will be fine. I have no desire to call up the Coast Guard for a tow (again…), and there will be fair-weather days throughout the summer. We will make it happen when the conditions are right and we will be successful.

P.S. You know I had to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the merino wasn’t feltable, right? Of course I did…

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