Sunday, 6 July 2014

Back to Alpaca #1

Earlier this year my sister in law gave me a couple of fleeces from their herd of pet alpaca.. one white and one brown.  A couple of months ago I featured my first couple of alpaca makes as Fibre of the Months projects.  Well, I had a rather large bag for each fleece containing coarser, shortish fibre.. and what I really wanted to do was felt mats with it.  Problem was it took me so long to pick & card the fibre there was no way I was going to have time to prepare enough to felt a rug!  

Until I got my hands on a box picker :)  Since then I've felted 2 rugs.. this is the first one

Box picker in action.
I don't like the nail heads sticking up around the handle!  Most of the time I laid a cloth over them to protect my knuckles.. one time I forgot and regretted it (with bloody knuckles!)
I wasn't worried about it being perfect, so only did one pass through the carder..
though I was careful to get it as even as possible
Some of the 6 big fat batts I made
I worked upside down, laying out my abstract design (in petrol and mallard green merino) on the bubblewrap
Then covering it with the batts and adding a layer of cotton scrim to the top.
Once it was thoroughly wetted out I folded the very edges (you know how it often goes thinner at the edges) back over the edge of the scrim.
And in my typical style didn't take photos of the actual felting.. probably because it was such hard, heavy work!  It was of course far too big to go in the sink so I used the bath.. my goodness it was heavy when wet!  And I was amazed at how dirty the white fleece had been, first time it went in the bath the water went black you couldn't even see the bottom of the bath.. it was lovely and clean by the time I finished though :)

After many hours or rolling, massaging, throwing and pummeling.  All finished of most unusually by rinsing on cool and spinning in my washing machine (I was totally knackered at this point).  To dry I alternated between laying it flat on my table top and draping it over the deck rail in the garden when the weather was fine and sunny.. it took a couple of days.

The last step was to iron it.. 

Measures about 4 1/2 ft x just over 2ft
I love how misty the design is now the white fibre has come through the green.
If I was doing this again I would carry the spiral on to the top edge..
Next time the brown rug :)


Zed said...

I've not seen a box picker before. The rug looks great, I bet it feels nice too :)

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks Zed, it's nice and squishy.. nearly an inch thick :)
Yeah.. the box picker was useful, I think one of the swinging siege engine type pickers would of been faster.. but it certainly sped up the processing.

Lyn said...

Beautiful rug - love the simple design - and it will probably give you a lifetime of service.

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks Lyn :)

Terriea Kwong said...

I haven't seen or known a box picker before. Wondering how it works. The rug is so beautiful with a clear symbol. Simply a life style !


Your rug is truly very pretty. I am sure it will last a life time. With the simple design it will go with everything. Hugs Judy

FeltersJourney said...

Thank you ladies :) x x

Terrie, the box picker has a bed of nails on the bottom of the box, and another under the short sliding section at the top of the box. You put a handful of locks in 'in area' and slide the top section back and forth until all the fibre has made its' way over to the 'out area' all fluffed and opened up ready for carding.