FUN WET FELTING WOOL!
Wet felting wool is a fun thing to do. It is, also, a very clean thing to do. During the process you wash your fleece...getting two steps done in one.
Alpaca is finer than sheep. Therefore, when you lay it down, be sure you don't spread it thinly or you will end up with holes. If you get holes,
read about needling to fix the thin areas.
Lay the first layer down. Lay the second layer down onto the first layer at a 90 degree angle to the first. Two different colors have been used to illustrate this better.
Normally, only one color is used but then again that depends on what you are trying to achieve. Two different colors or more can be very interesting projects.
You can use anywhere from two to four layers. Depends on how thick you want your project to be. Alpaca thickens up very nicely during the fulling stage so we find that two layers works just fine for most projects. Just remember to alternate directions 90 degrees for each layer when laying the fleece.
Next put some dishsoap on top of the layers. Then place a screen over the top of the fleece. The screen holds it in place, makes the fibers come together more evenly, and keeps the fleece from sticking to the sponge and your hands.
Apply a damp sponge to the screen and begin pressing all over getting the fleece wet and soapy. It does not have to be dripping wet. If you put your sponge on the fiber and it splashes, then you have used too much water.
Periodically lift the screen so that it does not attach to your project. Felting wool happens fairly quickly with alpaca.
Keep your sponge warm by rewetting it with hot tap water. We do our small projects right next to the kitchen sink.
You will learn very quickly how to tell when you have the right amount of water.
When you can pinch the fiber and it stays together, then it is just about done. Turn it over and fold in the loose edges. Continue to sponge until the edges blend.
Fulling and Finishing
Felting wool has a final stage. Fulling. You can rub it on an old washboard or roll it in bamboo matts. We prefer the washboard for small crafts.
This shrinks the alpaca wool and thickens it. Keep turning it so that you get even shrinkage in all directions.
Once you have your project to the size you want, rinse it with cold water to remove the soap and stop the shrinking.
Roll it in a dry towel and squeeze out the water. Let air dry and you're finished felting wool.
It's a simple process even small children can do. Using alpaca will create very soft material that is thinner than sheep but warmer and stronger.
You can make larger pieces and cut them into patterns to sew together. That's how this hat was made.
Felting wool has endless possibilities for felt projects. You can create shapes such as purses that are seamless and don't require sewing. This type of craft is great fun to do with kids and all that soap and water gets those little hands clean, too.
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