A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 21, 2009

It’s That Time of The Year Again

When the temperature starts to cool a little, the sun sets earlier and the spinning wheel starts calling me!

Having knitted several projects recently I think it is time for a change, so the spinning wheel will be getting a workout

Right now my spinning wheel has some alpaca fiber on it that has been spun but that has also been grabbed by puppy Blue and entangled.  I really need to untangle the yarn and ply it then I will be able to move on to a new project.

I have some white roving ready to go and recently have been viewing some pictures of blended fibers (thanks Theresa and Nichol!) which have set my imagination going and are tempting me to try blending something with the alpaca roving I have.  I still have that really pretty lilac colored tussah silk which I think would look nice against the white roving I have on hand; I just need to pluck up the courage to give it a try.

Within a few months I hope to have a large supply of gray roving on hand as I have finally got around to skirting my collection of blanket fleeces from our one and only gray alpaca Ma Cushla.  Cush is not the softest alpaca in the world but her fleece has a beautiful even silver gray color to it.  I am sending Ma Cushla’s fleeces in to be dehaired and put into roving, some of which I will spin into yarn for knitting and crochet projects and some I want to use for felting (a nice nuno felt scarf maybe).   It will be fun to work with Ma Cushla’s fleece during the cooler months and while I am waiting for it to return from the mill I can start to think about some potential fibers to blend with it.  (I can also think some more about the small rigid heddle loom I have my eye on – but don’t tell Ric who claims I already have too many fiber arts toys as it is!)

That’s the thing with fiber there are so many different things to do with it and so much fun to be had trying new techniques.  The real trick is to find the time to do it all, but it’s amazing what even 15 minutes a day will create.


April 9, 2009

What is Nuno Felting?

Part of the Nuno Felted Scarf I Created

Part of the Nuno Felted Scarf I Created


Having written a little about my recent felting weekend I realized that some people might not be familiar with the term “Nuno Felting”.  I definitely did not have a clue what Nuno Felting was until this weekend (which was marginally better than my brother who is not familiar with the art of felting and questioned my grammar when I wrote to him that I was “going to felt alpaca”!)


According to Wikipedia the definition of Nuno Felting is:

Nuno felting is a Japanese fabric felting technique. It melds loose fibre, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze. This creates a lightweight felt that can totally cover the background fabric or be used as a single decorative design.

The Nuno felting process is particularly suitable for fine garment making, since silk-backed felt ensures a stable felt that will not stretch out of shape like normal felt. Because it is lightweight and easy to manipulate it can also be dyed more readily than traditional felt. Other fabrics or open weaves can be used as the felting background, resulting in a wide range of textural effects and colours.

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuno_felting



For my scarf I was felting alpaca fiber and decorative yarn onto a silk background.  The silk I used has a lovely iridescent quality that does not show up well in the photograph, and the combination of the silk with a fine layer of alpaca  fiber really does work well.  Not being the most creative of people my design is fairly basic, but I wanted to be able to concentrate more on the technique of Nuno Felting rather than have to worry about a complicated design.


It was fascinating to me to see how the alpaca fiber felted, it would soon turn from loose fiber to starting to have some solidity to it and then becoming felt which was attached to the silk.  As the alpaca fiber felted the silk would start to crinkle making a nice effect to the scarf.


The only things we used to get the alpaca fiber to felt were some cold soapy water (sometimes with felting you use hot water but for my scarf cold water was a better option) and elbow grease.  Felting is a good workout for the hands, arms and shoulders!


The end result of my Nuno Felting project was a soft, lightweight but warm scarf, with a unique design that might be considered attractive depending on your point of view.


I am sure I will be trying Nuno Felting again, it is a fun technique and you can add as much or as little felt design over the scarf as you please so there is plenty of room for creativity.  Now all I need to do is find plenty more time to play with felting (along with spinning, knitting, crochet – the list goes on and on!).



April 8, 2009

A Weekend of Felting Fun

 My weekend in Colorado was a great success and a lot of fun too.  The weather behaved and while the drive up on Friday was a little windy, the snow cooperated by arriving on Saturday and being gone by the time I left on Sunday.  Those who know me know that I am not a fan of being out in the snow and even less of a fan of driving in it, so to enjoy the beauty of a snowy mountain landscape while having the luxury of staying inside and working on fiber arts was a treat.


Friday evening and Saturday morning were spent working on a silk and alpaca felt scarf using the Nuno Felting technique.  The combination of silk and alpaca is a great one and it was interesting to feel how quickly the alpaca felts beneath your fingers.  This was my first venture in felting alpaca this way, I have felted alpaca before by knitting and then putting the knitted product in the washing machine, but have not felted by hand until now.  The felting process was really not hard at all and under the guidance of my friend and teacher Judy Sims-Barlow I soon produced my first silk and alpaca scarf.


Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning we moved onto the next project – making an alpaca felt hat.  This was a little more involved and sadly I was unable to use either of the two fleeces I had taken with me.  Both Chamberino and Ma Cushla’s fleeces were deemed to be too hairy and so they will need to be dehaired before being used.  Fortunately Judy had some alpaca batting from her alpaca Ruby Moonlight that was suitable for hat making.


By Sunday afternoon I had also completed the hat.  It’s amazing what you can do when you have the time available to work on nothing but that one project. 


I will post pictures of my two creations in days to come, for a first time attempt they came out really well.


A big Thank You goes out to Judy and Will Sims-Barlow of Spanish Peaks Alpacas for accommodating me over the weekend, for the wonderful meals they provided and for teaching me new skills I am now eager to put to use.



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