Felting together for community care and wellbeing

Connecting and recharging through a families felting event

We all know the importance of self-care as a way to look after your wellbeing. Especially in difficult, ever-changing times like the current pandemic, time to relax and recharge is vital for personal resilience.

But community-level care is equally important! All the long walks and favourite music in the world won’t make a difference unless we also have spaces for building connections and supporting one another.

Last month we got together with Katy Swift Community Art and families from our peer-support groups for an afternoon of family ‘wet felting’ on Zoom. We didn’t all know what wet felting was at first – it is indeed a very wet craft activity! Luckily the materials packages sent out to everyone included a little note warning us to bring a towel. The packages had huge amounts of brightly coloured unspun wool and bubble wrap, and were lovely to get in the post.

Picture of un-felted wool and bubble wrap Close-up of felt picture Picture of felt artwork

Why collective care and peer support matter

Outside the Box supports a range of different family groups, helping them plan a range of peer-support and community building activities. As part of our Families Wellbeing project we’ve been working with the family support groups – and new Permission to Dream family mental wellbeing support groups in Falkirk! – to find solutions to the challenges they’re facing through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Looking after wellbeing has been extra challenging for many families this year. There have been lots of new sources of anxiety and stress, as well as changes to peoples’ usual supports and ways of keeping well. The family groups who took part have been busy setting up new peer-support spaces, translating information about local resources into community languages, and finding ways for their children to play outdoors safely.

So we thought a hands-on event would be a great way for everyone to relax and have some fun. It was also a chance for families living in different places to meet each other in a low-pressure social setting. There’s no need to make up awkward small-talk about the weather when everyone’s sharing the experience of experimenting with a new craft!

Photo of computer screen during Zoom call Photo of a finished felt artwork, maybe of a forest Photo of a felt artwork Photo of a child holding up an artwork

Feedback from the felting session

“It was fabulous fun. And now I have a handmade piece of artwork for my office”

Katy was a brilliant guide into the world of wet felting. She explained how the pieces of torn-up wool knit together, their open fibres connecting when we used hot water, then knotting into a picture under cold water. It felt like the families taking part were brought closer together too, as we felted the soapy water and wool between sheets of bubble wrap – everyone creating a bubbly mess as well as an artwork.

Katy also shared fascinating little bits of knowledge. We would never have known which sheep create the best wool for felting, or why soap helps the process.

Photo of a child making felt with bubble wrap and soapy water Photo of a child rolling the felt artwork on a towel Photo of 2 finished felt artworks, with abstract green, red, orange, purple and blue wool on a black background

Some of the families who took part shared their feedback:

“Thank you so much. Fun way to spend a wet afternoon”

“Thank you so much. I wasn’t sure if T would be into it, but he really loved it and is proud of his creation! Oh – and the dog enjoyed it too.”

“Really enjoyed it, very therapeutic.”

“Russell & I had a great time, thanks for a really interesting and new craft”

We look forward to more Families Wellbeing sessions in the future – and we 100% recommend wet felting as a wellbeing activity!

We have put together Family Wellbeing resources based on what the peer-support groups have been finding works for building connections and friendships in Covid19. Read and download the guides here:

Families Wellbeing resources

We would love to hear from you. If you would like to share your ideas or find out more about the project, please get in touch with Louise Willson (email: louise@otbds.org).

This project was funded by the Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund, through the CORRA foundation.