I still have more than half of Pela’s fleece waiting to be processed. I found that (in my short and very limmited experience) getting a perfect ball of wool requires a considerable ammount of time and effort in the fleece prep. department so I spent a couple of hours flick carding some of the fleece one small tuft at a time.
The easy part is now feeding this through the drum carder to produce batts. This mixes the sun bleached tips throughout the fibre and should prevent the uneven pattern seen in my crocheted scarf. I just have to spin it now. The resulting ball of wool will have taken about five hours to make!
Pixie loves alpaca fleece, she stole two of my early balls of wool, tangled them up and hid the evidence under the bed.
For some light relief, I rustled up another felted scarf (you have to keep up the practice) in blue merino with black and green alpaca.(no we don’t have green alpacas, it was just a failed attempt at dyeing)
I have been getting to grips with felting, inspiration came from Liz at the Futurity. I first tried a pebble bag using some jacob sheep wool. The bag worked fine but the bit of chiffon used to keep the pebbles in place kept floating away so I gave up on that and just made a plain bucket bag. I don’t have a photo as it was a pressie for my friend the jacob sheep owner and she arrived before I could get the camera out.
Next I thought to try the lacey merino scarf, it ended up looking like a stick of seaside rock and was too short to wear! (felting tends to shrink stuff).
Time for a longer piece of merino in violet and using black fibre from Moira to fasion a scarf for my son’s girlfriend, this was more successful as I used bubble wrap on the top as well as the bottom of the scarf. This seemed to keep the fibre in place during the felting process. ( see the way technical terms are already creeping into my vocab.)
I have started spinning my last fleece, this one from Pela, a fawn girl. Its always tempting to blame the tools but really I’m just not an expert yet. This ball was about 60% even and acceptable and 40% thick or thin which is an improvement.
There is only so much substandard wool I can pass on to Knitter sister so I taught myself to crochet and created this rather dashing scarf. The buttonhole was too big for my button so I created a piece of felt from Pela’s seconds to make the button larger.
The alpaca futurity is a weekend packed with all things alpaca. This year’s seminars were mostly about the fleece, spinning and felting. I took part in a felting workshop which greatly inspired me. My feet had hardly touched home soil before I was in the workshop and up to my elbows in warm soapy water. My creations leave a lot to be desired but they are original, the black and white scarf has a layer of Moira on one side and some of Minnie on the other side so 100% alpaca. The other piece has a background of blue dyed alpaca and a centre square of merino with some alpaca.
The knitter sister’s latest creation is a rather comfy, very warm black and white hat, knitted as with the tea cosy from some of my earliest balls (of wool). Modelled here by Mrs Littleholder…
Books taught me the basic methods of felting. I followed this up with some professional courses. It’s a simple process in it’s basic form and can quite easily be a complete accident (think expensive woolen jumper on too hot a machine wash). I’ve made a few small felted pieces – a brooch, some bookmarks and a few sample pieces (A4 size). I’ve also purchased some felting needles and created a rather useless blue circle of felt (which is almost something useful, but not quite).
The resident alpacas (Minnie, Moira, Pelachuta – adults and Ambrosia – baby; Autumn was not yet old enough) were shorn last June and resulted in three full fleeces and a bundle of fluff from Ambrosia.
Of these fleeces, I washed some for spinning, and some for felting. Some was dyed also, to give variety to my early projects. With a drum carder, some of the saddle fleece was processed for spinning ~ I took a day long spinning course in winter and with my recently aquired spinning wheel, my technique is coming on well.
From this spinning, my first balls of wool were plied, and were promptly sent off to my sister – an expert knitter. The first product was born – a beautiful fawn and white tea cosy!
I’m Joy – you may have heard about me throgh the criticaly acclaimed ‘Apple Vale Alpacas’ blog : www.applevalealpacas.co.uk. From ‘paca to product, a.p.p.l.e follows my journey aquiring the skills needed to turn this highly-regarded fibre into useful and desirable products.