I'm reaching out to what I feel is a very talented community of artists! My name is Demaris, and I have zero skill in spinning or even knitting. I do, however, love to dabble in making felted projects, and I have something big up my sleeve to do with my art students at school. I have a bunch of beautiful alpaca fibers, right off the alpaca itself, and I am wondering how to create wool roving out of it for felting. I am told that alpaca works well for this use, and I'm hoping that is true. I downloaded an ebook, and looked for other's who may have the same question, but I don't feel like I got an answer that I can run with. Maybe it's because I don't know the spinner speak :). I have a number of different colors and textures. I think my hitch is that I can't visually imagine the hairy stuff turning in to soft fluffy stuff that can be manipulated by a felting needle. Please tell me it's much easier than what I'm making of it. It is one of my many New Year resolutions to put this beautiful fiber that I've been sitting on for three years to good use! Thank you for any help you can give, I am very grateful.
Needle felting is easy to do. There are a few books out there that can take you step by step. When I followed a "pattern" my sculptures turned out better than my free-hand. Depending on where you live, you can buy felting needles in craft stores, or over the internet. They come in a couple of different sizes.
The process of interlocking the fibers does work well. I've seen some nice alpaca ones. It may work better if you have a wool roving base and cover it with the alpaca. Make sure the alpaca is washed first - in cold water, no agitation.
You are working with sharp needles. I've pricked stabbed myself several times. The blood is shocking for young kids. If you have a school project, why not try felted geode-balls. It takes hot soapy water and squeezing, rubber gloves and some fun colors. Easter egg dyes or Kool-Aid for some splash.
Another thought would be to go to a yarn store that sells fiber, not just yarn. Tell them that you are looking to learn and ask if they know anyone who would spend a little time with you to get you started. I know that there are many in my spinning guild who love to help others, I have no doubt a local guild in your area would be no different.
The ONLY difference between an accomplished spinner and a new one who feels they don't have "the touch for it", is practice and not quitting.
Thank you Denise, I love the idea of the geode balls, especially for the younger classes. I have experience in needle felting, I agree that felting needles are not for the classroom! However, I use the clover brand needle felting tool at home with my own child. It has a guard over the needles that retracts when felting, it's a great solution for youth! (under supervision of a parent!) For class I would like to "paint with felt", and do a wet felting lesson. We need a class project to auction off at the school auction fundraiser, and I think a felted wall hanging would be a nice change to the usual fingerprint/handprint, painted furniture stuff. After reading your reply I tried using the alpaca, with a felting needle, to add highlights to my wet felted sample, and it turned out beautifully! I was just hoping to find a way to take the alpaca and turn it in to a product like the commercial roving used to make the base of the project. Thanks again for your attention to my needs!
Haha! I've tried to avoid those kinds of places for years as I'm afraid they will suck me in to their beauty and consume even more of my very little time and money! Admittedly, I should try your advice... thank you for your reply.