Welcome! The alpacas and farm life have become my constant teachers, and I have begun shifting my blog focus to reflect the lessons I am learning. I plan to share more thoughts and stories related to farm life in Grays Harbor County and carve out a space in the ethernet where one can stop, breathe, and think.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Work in Progess: Spring Bling, part I

The Swallows have arrived in the Northwest! According to local fisherman lore, that means only one more winter storm remains for the season, so spring is definitely here!

This Saturday I will be a vendor at a local Breast Cancer Fundraiser, so I am working on my Spring Bling line for the big event. This year's Spring Bling will include felted Wild Rose pins, assorted flower hair clips, and a special breast cancer awareness pink ribbon adorned with various charms.

One of my Wild Rose pins is pictured here, although it's not completely finished yet. The Bling line is still a work in progress, but I will be taking a trip to my local bead store today to purchase some more bedazzles to add to my creations. I promise finished photos in part II...

Ciao for now,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Make Your Own Alpaca Felted Flowers

I am often asked if alpaca felts. The answer is yes - beautifully! I love adding felted flowers to all kinds of projects, and I hope this post will inspire you to try making your own.

Although I have included my crochet pattern for a small flower here, you can start with any size knit or crocheted flower. Remember, the felting process causes whatever you are working with to shrink, so keep this in mind when thinking about the desired size of your final felted flower.

Pattern disclaimer - I am not experienced at writing out crochet instructions, so if you have any suggestions for improving or clarifying the pattern directions, please leave a comment.

Pattern: For this flower, I used a size G crochet hook and about 4.5 yards of DK weight 100% alpaca Classic Alpaca yarn from the Alpaca Yarn Co.
(1) Chain 3 and join to make a loop.
(2) Single crochet 11 times into the center of the loop, then slip stitch (ss) into the 2nd chain. (There should be a total of 10 chains around the edge of the resulting circle.)
(3) Chain 3, make one double crochet (dc) and one treble (tr) into the 1st chain; make one tr and one dc into the 2nd chain, chain 3, then ss into the same chain.
(4) ss into the next chain, chain 3, make one dc and one tr into the same chain; make one tr and one dc into the next chain, chain 3, then ss into the same chain.
(5) Repeat step (4) three more times to make a total of 5 petals. End with a ss into the 1st chain of the 1st petal . Cut the yarn and secure with a knot. On the wrong side, weave the yarn tail in toward the center and knot the two yarn tails together several times to help fill in the center hole. Weave in the tails.

Felting the Flower: I prefer to use a washboard and textured dishwashing gloves for wet felting these flowers because it gives me good control over the process. I soak the crocheted flower in hot water and rub it aggressively against the washboard to get the surface fibers to felt. I also use the rough surface of my gloves to fine tune the felting. Don't forget to rub the edges of the petals, including the point where the petals meet. You want to continue this process until the fibers are well integrated. When you're finished, it should look something like the one pictured here. Squeeze out the excess water with your hands or put the flower into a nylon bag and spin out the water in your washing machine.
Finishing the Flower: Use scissors to carefully trim the fuzzies off of the flower and to shape the petals. You can do this either when it is wet or dry. Take your time with this step. You can always trim away more if needed, but you can't put it back. Also, make sure to only trim the surface loops and don't cut into the flower itself. Once the flower is dry, you are ready to add any creative touches that your imagination wishes! For example, I like to sew french knots or beads into the center, which adds texture and dimensionality to the flower. Search for free patterns for leaves to add even more pizazz. (Note: The hair clip flowers below were made using a crocheted pattern. The yellow flower was created from a knit pattern.)

Final Notes: Felted flowers are a fun accessory that can also be a creative way to use up leftover yarn. Although I like to use alpaca, you can try making these with other types of feltable yarn, like wool. If you have been inspired to give felted flowers a try, I hope you return to leave a comment about your experience! And please feel free to post comments with other felting suggestions and creative inspirations to share.

Ciao for now and Happy Felting,