I love alpaca, so a few years ago when my mum was buying me fibres for Christmas, I asked for Alpaca tops. I’d only used raw alpaca before and hoped the tops would be more convenient. They couldn’t have been further from raw alpaca if they’d tried. I’m sure all alpaca tops aren’t like this, but it seems I got some made from guard hair or something! They were thick and wiry and kind of stiff. I hoped they’d be different after felting, so I made a sample square. It was the weirdest felt I’d ever made, hairy and although felted, didn’t really feel felted, and strangely, still quite soft. So, I put those bags at the bottom of a sack and forgot about them.
I recently did a ‘stock check’ to see what I needed to order more of and rediscovered the alpaca tops. I left them out hoping I’d get time to try them again. Last week I did. I decided to make a small bag with a flap. I thought that if it turned out strange I could always use it for sewing on. It turned out exactly as I’d remembered! Hairy, stiff, not feeling like it was felted, but oddly soft. I used a rusty colour for the inside layers and aptly, a grassy green colour for the top ones. I’ve already started to add the stitches, so I’ll post about that soon 🙂
I had more success with my merino vessel. I thought I’d try making a vessel starting with a flat resist. I thought it’d be less fiddly and messy than felting over a ball, but I didn’t think so. I think if I do it again I’ll use something a bit thicker than bubblewrap for the resist. It came out alright though, but it’s a bit thin because I only used a couple of layers of merino.
I’d be interested to know if anyone else has had similar problems with commercial alpaca tops or if you’ve actually had some nice ones.