Fibers and felt for alpaca breeders are a perfect fit.
I was the first alpaca breeder in Kentucky beginning in the early 90s. This seemed like a natural addition to the llamas from 1987.
I wanted to know what to do with the fibers from these animals. I tried to figure it out by doing many different spinning and knitting projects. I also found out that I wanted to learn more about other fibers, leading me to other fiber animals. Then we added angora rabbits and various sheep. From here I learned about the different qualities of fiber from the many fleeces raised on our farm.
I learned to spin and knit. I made yarn and knitted some sweaters from my alpaca and sheep fibers. I loved my sweaters and still have them more than twenty years later. I look back on my work and see that it was just the beginning stages of my long fiber journey.
We had many animals that were giving us many fleeces. I could not possibly use all the wool that they produced. The barn was pilling up with fleeces. Learning to spin and knit was not using my wool at near the speed that it was growing on the animals. I had to find a faster way to make things, or my wool would not provide the value that I thought it deserved.
Felting was brought to my attention. Felting happens naturally on some animals and was an ancient fabric. So I continued on my journey.
My first felt was made using soap and water and lots of hand circling motions to make the fibers stick together. Hat making became a focus. I made and taught many people to make wet felted hats from all the different breeds I had. We enjoyed the felting, but I also still was not using the fibers as fast as I was growing them.
One day my husband came home with a felting needle. I used it immediately to fix a few holes in one of my hats that had not come out right. I then tried just felting a ball of wool. It worked fast and great! I turned to my husband and said, this is going to change our lives.
Industry has been doing needle felting since 1890. It uses it make products that are in our everyday lives. It makes polar fleece, rugs, felted fabric, etc. It was used by industry, so I decided that I needed a small needle felting loom for our farm. I could not find one to buy anywhere. So my husband and I looked for someone to build us one for our applications. We did this and have since worked for six years to develop a needle loom that would fit into our operation. We received a patent on a needle felting machine for fibers artist in 2008.
Today, we are selling these loom to breeders and fiber artists. You can make your own fabric without yarn. In one day from batting, I made twenty five scarves that were embellished with my finishing touches. This was a break through for making product and getting from fibers to fabric.
Now, we are just touching the surface of our true creativity with the fibers. We lay the fibers on the table and add our special colors or textures that give a one of kind product. People have purchased the FeltLOOM and are enjoying their own work. The seamstresses can make their own fabric rather than buy it from a bolt. We are on a journey to redefine fiber art.
Blog posted from Kentucky, USAView larger map