By Danielle Boyd, MerryTale Farm
Felting is a fun craft and can be done with a variety of natural fibers including mohair, wool, alpaca, angora, etc… There are a couple different types of felting: needle felting and wet felting. We’ll give an example of each, with samples of crafts we’ve made. Both require fiber to be combed or brushed into roving, so that the fiber is facing the same direction.
Needle felting is done with small needles that have tiny barbs on them. These barbs lock the fibers together and allow you to shape and mold the fiber, almost like clay.
A Santa Claus was made with Merino wool roving that we purchased and homegrown mohair for his beard and hair. Angora goats produce mohair and can be raised alongside dairy goats. They provide beautiful fiber that is shorn twice a year and can be used for felting, spinning, and other fiber crafts.
You can create virtually anything with needle felting. It may take a bit of practice to achieve the shapes and desired look that you’re after, but it is fairly quick work.
Wet felting can be done with supplies that you would normally find around the house, including a spray bottle with a mixture of dish soap and water, bubble wrap, a rolling pin, and your hands. Repetitive rubbing and friction causes the fibers to felt together and create a solid sheet of felt.
Many dairy goat owners enjoy making homemade soap. Felted soap is a wonderful and unique gift idea. We recently created a reusable, felted soap pocket or sleeve. After you’ve used up a bar of soap, you simply slide a new bar into the sleeve and you’re ready to go again. The prototype we created was made using a combination of merino wool and mohair, both of which are very soft fibers. Since you’re using it on your body, you’ll want to make sure whatever fiber you use isn’t too scratchy on your skin. The sleeve provides a great scrubber, but you don’t want to irritate your skin.