Easter Egg and Bunny Felting Class

My first “stab” at teaching turned out okay, I think.  I wasn’t sure how I would be at conveying my thoughts to others.  We all got an egg made, first needle felted into an egg shape with embellishments tacked in place, then wet felted to finish.
I do have kits available if you want to try this at home.  It is not hard.  Remember not to squeeze when rinsing the soap out.  Wrap in a towel to absorb the excess moisture and lay in the sun or sunny room to dry.
The group was anxious to move on to bunnies and so we did.
Everyone brought alpaca fiber that they had carded into batts at home. We all were working with Suri Alpaca, so yes you can felt Suri!  Adrienne had a pretty yellow pastel that she had Dyed with Kool-aid, Christie had some gorgeous white Suri to which she added red, also dyed with kool-aid.
I was working with multi-colored rovings that I had dyed with Gaywool Dyes.  What I like about Dyeing With Gaywool is that the mordant and dyebath acidifier is formulated into the dye, which makes it simple, and there are so many pretty colors.
We divided our batts into nine pieces that we used to “build” our bunnies.  We started with the body which took the most fiber, then added legs, arms, head, ears, and tail.  Rolling the fiber tightly into the desired shapes was the “key” first step before starting to needle the fiber.
Diane used a natural color and had the help of her daughter, who found felting in cookie cutters to be much easier!  A Multi-Needle Felting Tool makes the work go much quicker, most of us used a tool with six needles.  A double or single needle was needed to get in the tight spots when adding the head and tail.
My daughter joined us, she is 13, can you tell?  I guess she didn’t want her picture taken?
When we wrapped it up, we all had some felting to do at home to firm up and finish our bunnies.  Each one looked different and had his/her own personality!
We had fun taking the time out to do something fun together, and everyone went home having learned something new to do with Alpaca Fiber!
Meet Beatrice!
And Peter!
They are definitely one-of-a-kind!

Interested in learning to needle felt?  See the Class Schedule and register for a class!  Don’t live nearby or want to try felting on your own?  It is not difficult.  Felting kits are available in The Farm Store online and in The Fiber Studio at Alpaca Meadows.

For inspiration, tutorials, and tips on needle felting bunnies, see Felted Rabbits and Bunnies!

Happy Spring!

Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates

I stayed up last night and watched Forrest Gump, what a great movie!  I turned it on in the middle, then watched it to the end, then when the movie started over watched the beginning.  Not a great way to watch a movie, but I had seen this one before.  I don’t usually like to watch movies a second time but this one is definitely worth a second or third or fourth time through!

I love this quote by Forrest Gump –
Mama always said life was like a box a chocolates, never know what you’re gonna get.”
I found a website full of Forrest Gump Quotes.  I wish I could keep life so simple.
Alpacas do help us to keep life a little simpler.  Their needs are very basic and we enjoy the little things about them, their different personalities, the little ones playing, their curiosity, the anticipation of babies coming after almost a year of waiting.
They are not venturing out of the barn very far – there is no place to go with this deep snow.  They will be glad to see Spring, me too!
The picture on the left is Serenity and Dream, Unlimited Joy is on the right.
My daughter and I built a snowman yesterday.  We have had so much snow this winter, I’ll take snow over brown and gray any day, but it really hasn’t been very packable.  There is nothing like some warmer temperatures and a little rain to make the snow right for building a snowman!  In fact we built this guy in the rain!
So it’s Monday morning.  I’ve rinsed some fiber that I dyed over the weekend, mixed dye for two new dye pots and put them on the stove to steam, loaded the dishwasher, wiped the counters, swept the floor, emptied the trash (no one else seems to notice when it is overflowing), cleaned up the cat vomit on the basement stairs, made the bed, read my meditations, put in a load of laundry, answer a few e-mails, see who had voted on my Winter Blues Treasury, and addressed an envelope so that I could mail my North Union Farmers Market application.
 I ate breakfast, read an article in my Alpaca Magazine, showered, and got dressed!  I usually like to be dressed before I tackle the day, but it didn’t happen that way today.  There definitely are perks to working out of my home, but there are challenges, like keeping on task for instance.

By the way, my farmers market, alpaca show, and fiber festival schedule is now posted under News on our website. So is our Birthing Schedule, our first two babies are due mid-April!
These are a couple of our babies born in the past, Meiko on the left and Marshall on the right.
It is an exciting time and so amazing to me each and every time that the birth of a baby happens just the way it is supposed to – a miracle every time!
In the dye pot today, I’m using Azalea, Daisy, Cornflower, and Hibiscus, colors from the Gaywool collection.  I am dyeing suri from an alpaca named Stormy Night.  Be sure to check back to see how it turns out.  Once thoroughly dry, I will package it in bags of 8 ounces for sale at upcoming shows.  I will also list it in The Farm Store on our website and in my Etsy Shop.
Gaywool Dyes are available in jars of 100 grams (3.52 ounces) and 80 grams (3.82 ounces).

A Rose Is A Rose
This is the yarn produced from the dye kit pictured.  It is a sport weight 100% suri alpaca, very lustrous and silky.

Dyeing In A Dye Pot With Gaywool

I don’t guess this blog will have any kind of order to it, any rhyme nor reason.  I’ll just write about what I’m doing or thinking about at the time . . .
So here we go.  
Another thing I couldn’t wait to learn, right after spinning, was dyeing.  You can’t really make a mistake – it is kind of like tie dying a T-shirt – you don’t know what you’ll end up with until you’re done but the results are always good.
For breeders of fiber animals that are looking for ways to sell your fiber, this is one way to add value to your fiber without adding much expense. Natural colors are beautiful – and alpacas have 22 of them – but oh, there are so many others!  I have tried kool-aid dyeing but then I found Gaywool and love it, so I’ve stuck with it.  Gaywool dye comes from Australia, is very safe to use, and has both the mordent and dyebath acidifier, which is all that is necessary to produce true-to-type, color-fast dyeing.
Gaywool comes in over 50 different colors.  The Original colors are vibrant hues and Bush Blends are more subtle colors that you might find in nature.  
Though there are a variety of methods, dyeing in a pot is probably the simplest, especially if you are just learning. 
I begin by weighing my fiber or yarn and I don’t usually dye more than a pound at a time.  When dyeing fiber, I use zippered lingerie bags to contain it.  If dyeing yarn, it should be skeined and tied loosely in four places.  I then soak the fiber or yarn in warm water with a bit of detergent added to it.  This allows the scales to open and be ready to accept the dye.  Soak for at least 15 minutes.

It is not necessary to wash the fiber first, there will be plenty of rinsing after it is dyed.

Place your yarn or bags of fiber in your dye pot and fill it about half full. It makes no difference how much water you use as long as you use enough dye stuff for the amount you are dyeing.  Be sure there is enough water so that you can turn the fiber over easily.  Place on stove and bring water up to steaming, just below a simmer.
Measure the dye stuff and dissolve in warm water.  One capful of is enough to dye approximately 4 ounces of fiber, rovings, or yarn. I recycle dish detergent bottles and use them for mixing the dye. Fill the bottle about half-way with warm water and using a funnel, add the dye stuff.  If you are doing a pound of fiber, you will need 4 capfuls.  Once dissolved add to dyebath and stir gently so that it is evenly dispersed.
Keep the dyebath just under a boil for about 30 minutes.  Turn off heat and let cool completely.  This may take the rest of the day or overnight.  Don’t rush it!  This allows the dye to be fully exhausted.
Remove and rinse the dyed fiber thoroughly in warm water.  Do not allow water ro run directly onto it, this can cause felting.  Fill your sink or bucket, allow it to soak, then using up and down motion rinse fiber, empty sink, refill, repeat process until water in sink is clear.
Squeeze out excess water.  Wrap in a towel to absorb excess moisture.  Hang yarn to dry.  Lay fiber on screens or skirting table to try.  Circulation above and below fiber is best to allow fiber to dry more quickly.
Relax and have fun – you’ll love the colors you can produce!
An excellent article on dyeing with Gaywool written by Karen Kinyon and published in Alpaca Magazine in the Fall 2006 issue, is called
In Search of the Purple Alpaca: Mysteries of the Dye Pot Revealed!
Gaywool Dyes are available in The Farm Store on our website.  They come in jars of 100 grams (3.52 ounces) and 80 grams (3.82 ounces). I also have made up Try Gaywool Dye kits which include three different colors, enough to dye 12 ounces of fiber or yarn, and a HandPainting Kit complete with dye stuff, bottles to mix in, rovings to dye, and instructions for handpainting.

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