My Largest Felting Project Ever!

My friends Sandy and Peter asked me to make a felting piece to go over their couch. I’ve been procrastinating, daunted by the size and scope of the project, but yesterday morning I woke up and said. “This is the day!”

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Laying a deep sheet and towel under it, to protect the table.

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Base layer.

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Starting to mess about with different ideas.

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The arteeste at work.

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Climbing on a stepladder for a birds eye view. Love my Crocs!

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Here it is, all felted. I’m going to add some needle felting embellishments once it dries, and then try and figure out a wall hanging system.

So what has this got to do with New Monasticism?

Monastic communities, through the ages, have been centres of creativity and the arts. We celebrate the Creator by co-creating!

Write Away

First day back after my holidays.

I’m in the prayer room by myself, really enjoying my time with the Lord.

I pull out my journal and write, “is there anything You would like to say to me about the new year?”

Figure I might as well ask.

I put my journal down and pace the prayer room, worshipping along with the groovy set that’s happening on the IHOP webstream. We have a big screen tv in our prayer room so we can tune into their live we streamed prayer and worship meetings whenever we want.

As I mosey over to the far side of the prayer room, my eyes land on a scrap of paper lying on a table.

It says “Write now”

Hmmm…

Coincedance?

Maybe.

A few minutes later, I bump into one of our interns who is meeting with her spiritual director here at the Vine.

“I really really enjoy your blog!” She says.
“Thanks. I didn’t write much overly my holidays. Just trying to take a break.”

I walk away from the conversation, somewhat bemused.

Coincedance?

Maybeeeeeeeee

Guess I’d better get back into my writing routine…..

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Felting Night at Greenaway

I invited a couple of friends over last night, put out a plate of goodies, and spilled my wool all over the table. I like the riotous tumble of color and texture.

Nicola was into making fuzzy animals, sheep from the wool that she plucked from barbed wire in Northumbria. Gwen wanted to make a picture of Noah, her son, and Myrah, her housemates daughter. Myrah and her folks are heading off to missions in warmer climes, so Gwen wanted them to remember playing in the snow together.

I’m still exploring tree themes, this time on a lovely wool sweater I found at value village. I started with an acorn, then a sprout, then a sapling, then the whole wang dang tree! It’s my felty meditation on the work of God in GOHOP and in the city…

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FeltIlluminations: Rooted and Grounded

Yesterday I went to Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington to spend some birthday money. I found some beautiful merino/silk blends, that create a lovely sheen when you felt them into a project. I also found some specialty wool that looks like felting dreadlocks! So interesting and inspiring to work with.

I went back home and happily immersed myself in felting. Much to my dismay, I was so engrossed in the task that I forgot to pick up my housemate Mary from her course!

“I’m soooo sorry,” I grovelled, twenty minutes late.

“This is the first time you’ve been late for anything. It’s a good sign.” Was her gracious response.

It is a good sign, actually. I’m having so much fun engaged in the creative process. And I think it’s bringing a better balance of work/play, which will aid me on my quest for long term sustainability in urban mission.

I’ve called my Etsy store FeltIlluminations. The ancient monastics, as they copied the Scriptures, would illustrate them as they went along. These illustrations were called illuminations. So I’m reinventing an ancient monastic tradition, with felt!

My latest piece is called “Rooted and Grounded,” based on one of Paul’s prayers in Ephesians that I love and have prayed over people thousands of times since the inception of GOHOP.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.~ Ephesians 3:14-17

I do so love how creative ideas evolve. I just started wanting to is illustrate some tree roots, but along the way it evolved into a gracious dancing woman!

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Creativity – Felting Workshop

I’ve been trying to cultivate more creativity in my life, and today I spent the day doing a felting workshop at Sue Firkser Design. Sue is a fabulous textile artist who hospitably opens her Dundas studio to felting newbies like myself.

I love felt. It’s very forgiving. Textile art, in my mind, is art for dummies ~ meaning me. Artists like Sue take thing to a whole other level, but really it’s hard for beginners to go wrong. The wool itself is so lovely, so full of shape, movement and color, that really all I find myself doing is making space for the textiles to express themselves.

Here’s the studio, and one of Sue’s felt loving cats. And a fabulous jacket that Sue made from felt and silk. And two of the three pieces I worked on, under Sue’s expert tutelage, over the course of the day. The needlefelted piece I’m calling “like an apple tree”. I took pictures of various stages of the wet felting piece, which I’m calling “deep unto deep”, so you could see how you layer and lay out the wool, and then what it looks like when it is wet felted.

I’ve also opened an etsy shop, FeltIlluminations, where you can buy my work if you wish! Profits (after cost of materials) will go towards GOHOP’s Urban Missions in Hamilton.

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Decluttering as Spiritual Practice

I’ve been more intentional these days about solitude and silence, and integrating these spiritual practices into my daily rhythms. While I was on pilgrimage I became more intensely aware of my need for solitude, and often snuck away to be alone. Life in urban missions and living in an intentional community can make you crowded on the inside, and I needed to do some de-cluttering.

Flylady is an online house management coach, and one of her home management techniques is the 15 minute tidy. Pick an area of your house that needs attention, be it de cluttering or cleaning, set a timer for 15 minutes, and go to it!

I have found this technique really helpful for attending to the needs of my home, but also attending to the needs of my soul. When I get up in the morning, I make a beeline for my prayer chair. There sits my journal, waiting for me. I spend 15 minutes (roughly three pages worth), journaling whatever is going on in my little brain. In a popular course on creativity, the Artists Way, Julia Cameron calls this type of journaling the morning pages and emphasizes their importance in “find(ing) our own quiet centre, the place where we hear the still small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own.”. Daily journaling helps me to attend to what the deep places of my heart wants to say. And to what God wants to say to me.

After my morning pages, I put my journal down, light a candle, and turn off the lights. Ruth Haley Barton, in her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence, says “for me, lighting a candle is a powerful symbol of the reality of the Holy Spirit present with me in my times of solitude. Ever since the Holy Spirit rested on the heads of the apostles as tongues of fire in Acts 2, the flame has been a Christian symbol of Christ’s ongoing presence with us through the Spirit.”

In the quiet and in the flickering shadows spun by candlelight, I pick a simple phrase that feels like a deeply honest thing to say to God. Sometimes it’s “Come, Lord Jesus”. Right now I’m lingering on the phrase “Christ as a light, illumine and guide me.. I spend 15 minutes just breathing, just looking at the flame, invoking the presence of Jesus in my prayer, and resting in that space. 15 minutes may not feel like much, but consistency is more important than extended times and over the long haul will her much fruit.

When I’m done, I feel like my soul has been de-cluttered, space made for the Divine Presence, and then I can step into the rigours of my daily responsibilities.

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