Let’s see if you know the answer to these questions: Do alpacas have hair, fur or fleece? Do they live in a herd? Are they related to sheep? Can you shear them like sheep and use their hair/fur/fleece for yarn? What is felting? These are questions that I personally can’t help you with. But I have a friend who knows everything there is to know about Alpacas. (and if she doesn’t know, she will definitely find out!)
Leslie is a friend from northern Kentucky who is raising Alpacas on a private farm. She is finding new reasons to love these animals every day.
I asked Leslie to share with us about her alpacas and discovered that there is way more to this than will fit in one article. So I let her lead the way and start with felting. Not sure what felting is? Take a look at Wikipedia to get a definition and description.
Let’s start with Felting….as it my new passion!
Since I started raising alpacas about 5 years ago for their fleece (think sheep wool only softer, hypoallergenic & no itch!) I wanted to find an outlet on how best to use their fiber & since I’m a horrible knitter (just don’t have the patience for it!) I started learning how to needle felt & wet felt.
We shear the alpacas once a year in the spring & then I ship it to a fiber mill to process it into either batts (think quilt batting) or roving…which is like hairy wool. It’s the step before actually making yarn! With these two forms of fiber I’m able to do so many wonderful things like clothing or scarves! I’ve picked up some tips from fellow alpaca farmers & also searches the Internet for other artists ideas & suggestions & then just started experimenting on how best to do it for me.
Farming is my business…
I’m starting to have people interested in what I’m doing & requesting items for me to make. They especially like it that they can see a picture of the actual alpaca from which the item is being made! People like unique items & everything I make is one of a kind. My goal is to be able to sell more things via our Farm Store & I’m working on an online store.
What keeps me motivated?
Gosh…I have so many ideas in my head that I want to make…..I’m not sure there’s enough time to get them all done! Before I even finish one project, I already have 2 more bouncing around in my head! And my fellow alpaca artist friends also keep me motivated. It’s such a wonderful outlet for my creative side.
Tips for Beginners
Search the Internet for not only “how to” but inspiration as well…..every artist has unique ways of doing things…some you may like, others not so much….but you can adapt anything to fit your needs. It’s easy to get started in wet felting….all you need is some bubble wrap, spray bottle for water & some dish soap…& of course fleece!
Connect with Leslie and Alpacas of Verona on Facebook.
Have you spent much time around alpacas? Got a favorite story? Have you tried felting? I’d love to hear what you think of this unique hobby!