In my previous post about mystery fiber I had a go at felting it and the result is above drying in the sun. The consensus from the Facebook group is that it was most likely alpaca. I never did get an answer to my question about the best way of felting alpaca. Maybe it is a secret. I did some research and some people say it is a fast felter and some say it isn’t. In this particular instance, it wasn’t. The quickest felting of the four above was B, which was merino, then C. Sample A was very slippery and squeaky and D just started to lose the plot altogether.
Once everything was all dry, I was able to really examine my pieces. My favorite is sample B, the merino. I have a perfect square that is fulled really well, and yet it is still flexible. There are no gaps in it whatsoever. I almost want to frame it. I don’t know what the micron is, but the wool is soft. I felted samples A and C as far as they would go. Sample A has more holes and didn’t felt as quickly as C. They are both very soft and flexible and won’t pull apart unless you are trying very hard to do so. We won’t even talk about sample D.
The next step was to add wool as had been suggested. I got the blending board out as I don’t have a drum carder and I am not that great with the hand (dog brushes) carders. I laid out a thin layer of black merino that I used in sample B and then added a layer of wool from sample A, and then another layer of merino. I laid them out really thinly as below.
I laid out two layers perpendicular to each other 9 squares square, which is approximately 9 inches. For the gray alpaca, I added a natural gray merino I have felted with before and put them on the blending board in the same manor as above.
Here is a closeup of the layout below.
After wetting out, I tucked the edges in to make nice even squares and then gave them a sanding on both sides. Although they didn’t start to shrink, they all passed the pinch test, which was quicker than before.
I also didn’t get any holes after sanding considering the batts were thin.
I rolled the squares in bubble wrap 50x on each side, flipped them over and then rolled 50x each side again. The squares started to shrink a little. I started with sample A and rolled with a small rolling pin. Although the piece started to felt, this one took the most time as before. Things really got moving when I started to roll the piece in the bamboo matt, then I threw it around and rubbed on the bubble wrap. I did this to all three pieces. Sample C felted more quickly as expected. The biggest surprise was sample D. I had very low expectations for sample D, but in fact it felted quite well considering that it was falling to bits when being felted on its own.
Here they are drying in the sun.
Sample A) From 9 squares to 6 squares square, took the longest to felt, hairy, and has some fine holes in it.
Sample B) From 9 squares to 6 squares square, was the quickest to felt. Sturdiest and best felted of the three.
Sample D) From 9 squares to 7 x 6.5 squares. I couldn’t get it down any more than that, but considering it was falling apart on its own, this is a good result. Has some holes, but more like superfine cobweb.
So, what does all of this mean to me? Firstly, if you don’t know what it is, do a quick felt sample. I was very pleased with how the felt turned out with merino added as it was better than expected. What am I going to do with the alpaca? Well, I shall give the wool from sample A and D to my friend. I wasn’t keen on sample A as it is very hairy and would need a fair amount of merino to bind it to stop it from getting holes in the felting process. Plus I am not a great big fan of hairy wool. Although sample D was like a little miracle, I can’t see myself using it for anything as that also had some holes. I would consider making a hat with the wool from sample C. Although there were some very fine holes, and I would say that is most likely from the layout of two layers from the blending board, should I use more layers I think I could get a very good hat. I might try another Fedora.
Next time, I will show you how they look side by side.