Þetta Reddast

Þetta Reddast – Everything will be okay, it will all work out. A common saying amongst Icelanders as their lives revolve around the very unpredictable weather and changes in environment. I can’t help but notice how carefree the Icelanders I’ve met are. They work around loose schedules, are extremely flexible and have this “no need to worry” attitude. I first heard the Icelandic motto Þetta Reddast at a knitting workshop. I was struggling with my first stitches and apparently came across as a little stressed. And trust me, I was. Jóhanna Erla Pálmadóttir — who lead the knitting workshop — assured me that there was no reason to fuss over my knitting project, and reminded that my brain and my hands were learning something new – and not to overthink it.

I didn’t consider myself a textile artist prior to arriving here in Blönduós. I have worked with many mediums — acrylics, watercolours, block printing, sculpture, mixed media. But never had textiles and I crossed paths. This would be a first. I took on this opportunity to work in the Icelandic Textile Centre as reason to explore a new medium – felting.

Flat needle felting is the process of pushing small fibres, such as wool, into fabric in order to create a new texture. I have learned that it is a wonderful technique to represent the Icelandic landscape that I am so grateful to be surrounded by. I have also discovered that felting, as well as all forms of textile art, take an incredible amount of time! After teaching myself how to felt from Youtube videos and taking advice from my textile artist friends, I produced my very first felted piece, 4×6 inches in an entire day. An ENTIRE day! Although I am incredibly pleased with the outcome of my piece, I couldn’t help but reflect on the amount of time it took me to create something so small.

We have been taking part in multiple textile workshops here in Blönduós: knitting, tapestry, spinning, and natural dyeing techniques. Like felting, all of these mediums have required an incredible amount of time. I began to reflect on my time spent them, the time it took for me to grasp the new techniques, and then of course the time to complete a piece. The process of creating something out of textiles was not what I expected it to be at all. Not only is it time consuming, but it is extremely manual, repetitive and addictive. I started my tapestry weaving piece and just had this feeling of “I need to finish this”. I began to knit, and again the same feeling, “I just want to finish this and make something useful”.  And so after every workshop, I found myself spending all my time concentrating on perfecting a new technique for two or three days, completely forgetting about my felting projects. Once I was satisfied, then I would move on to the felting, which again lead to the feeling of completing something. I don’t know why I feel this way with textiles, as I can leave a painting in progress for weeks, and a drawing unfinished for months. I know I can always come back to it. Perhaps because these techniques are so new, so fresh in my mind, I don’t want to forget them. Perhaps it’s because for the first time in a very long time I can focus solely on making art. I have no responsibilities here.

As the days quickly slip by me, I realize how little time I have left to enjoy this period of creating art with minimal distractions or daily responsibilities. My usual overthinking self is saying, what if I don’t have time to finish what I had planned?

And then it hits me. Þetta Reddast – Everything will be okay, it will all work out. I am in Iceland. I might as well embrace this notion of things just working out, letting things fall into place. Something I hope I can bring back to Canada with me, this sense of letting things just be.