Shearing day brought in about 200 pounds of alpaca fleece. Fleece of all different grades. Some wonderful for hand spinners, some wonderful for the co-op and all the wonderful products NEAFP makes, some deposited to the PA yarn project and some for yarn made at mini mills. What to do with all this fiber? So many decisions to make.
Well this year a thought came to me. Needle felting would be a fun way for people to experience working with alpaca fibers. A simple needle felting sculpture would be fun to make with a friend or family member. And after making your sculpture you could give it as a gift during the upcoming gift giving season. That makes it a win-win project.
Alpaca, luxurious as it is, takes forever to needle to make a sculpture. I know that it has been mixed with merino wool. I know it’s not a new idea.
Merino Wool comes from a sheep. The Merino wool is the lowest micron of sheep’s wool. It mixes very nicely with alpaca. The alpaca fibers continue to stay soft while the merino adds to the elasticity, and felting quality achieved from sheep’s wool.
So it came to me, why not send my seconds, (seconds coming from the neck and belly of the alpaca), to the mill and mix it with merino wool for needle felting. A 50% alpaca 50% merino would allow the roving to be needle felted quickly, luss more fun to create a sculpture with fiber. And if I had it dyed at the mill I wouldn’t be dyeing roving, which could felt very easy.
That is what I did. I sent 13 pounds of alpaca seconds to Grudy Run Woolen Mill with the request to mix it with 50% merino wool and dye each pound a different color. This is what came back.
Wow! So many beautiful colors. So much fiber. I immediately put each color in a plastic 2 1/2 gallon bag. Found room on the shelves for storage and then proceeded to make needle felting sculptures, and to make kits to sell in QCAR- Alpaca Gift Shop. These colors are just too amazing to keep for myself.
So I made a starfish. Turns out it is a potholder. It came out much larger than I thought. I will remake a smaller one for a kit. I think the smaller starfish will be a fun Christmas tree ornament or a decoration during summer. I will try this again.
And a Rabbit, holding a carrot, wearing blue trousers. I have made this into a kit and it’s on the website for sale. I’m thinking I’d like to offer it as a workshop but I’ve not quite gotten there yet. The fiber only arrived last Saturday, 1 week ago. I’ve been very busy playing.
After working with this alpaca/merino blend I’m considering spinning some for yarn. I love the feel and the colors of this 50/50 blend.
Watch for more products on the website for those folks out of town. Local people please stop in and have a look around. Posted shop hours are Fridays and Saturdays 10- 3 but truthfully I’m here, take a chance and come on by. (or call 717-359-9989) Alpaca Gift Shop 580 Basehoar Rd.