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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Felting Day off or not !

After three weeks on blue jobs, I was really looking forward to a day off last weekend, doing something less strenuous, or so I thought.
Like most of us that have alpacas, after a few years of breeding and shearing you start to get a really large pile of fibre marked ' I'll find a use for that one day 'and you are reluctant to spread it on the roses or stuff boots with it.  So I was very pleased earlier in the year, to meet up with Kate Smith, an experienced feltmaker working and running workshops here in Brittany.  Although Kate had never worked with alpaca before she was keen to give it a go and spent several weeeks playing around with various samples and working on new ideas.   One of which was Nuno felting  which is produced by using a fine fabric for the base, usually cotton or silk, and felting fibre onto it (nuno means fabric in Japanese). we were both very impressed with the results.
Kate kindly prepared and presented several pieces for display at our open day in November and it was clear from the interest , that there were quite a few people looking for something to do with waste fibre.  So we organised a felting course for last Saturday with the aim of producing a Nuno felted scarf.
When I originally planned the day, the gite was vacant, so great -  we will do it in the gite. Then , after getting a month's booking from 'The Arabs' I decided the house would do just as well and continued with my plans.  Boy  - was I glad when they did a runner.  Water and bubbles everywhere.  There were four of us, all in all, Judi who was looking for something to do with 'bag lady' alias Peg and Clare Faber from Atlantis Alpacas, with her mum Betty.  So 2 in the kitchen and 2 in the lounge.  By the end of the day the gite looked like a jaccuzi that someone had tipped bubble bath into.
Its surprising how far a little bit of washing up liquid goes when you start rubbing - and rubbing we did.  Thirty times on each spot, turn it over, another thirty times, more water (on my floor !) - more rubbing - roll it up in bamboo, rub it 100 times - more water (!!!... ) hot this time - keep doing all this  re - rolling and adding more water (!!! - starting to look for my swimming goggles now ) around 800 times until it starts to felt.  Then it really gets phyical. After washing it, you have to bash it and throw it around.  Then, as if by magic, you can see it start to shrink and felt together - and all this I thought would be a restful experience.  Still we all had a lovely lunch, prepared by Steve, who is now getting the hang of domestication and had layed the table beautifully, even opening the wine to breathe on the table, and I can tell you we were ready for it.
Huge thanks to Kate for sharing her wonderful talent with us.  Anyone interested in the next day, we have planned for April, please let me know  -  and bring your own wellies !!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, a great day with impressive results...where to next...larger garments maybe?!! We must find a way to deal with all that water though, perhaps the sun will shine and we can work outside next time! A well-earned "Thank you" to both Kate and of course Jayne!