Choosing Fiber

I like to support small suppliers and I buy fiber from folks who are hand-spinners, knitters and felters. I've found them through family, friends, neighbors, local craft guilds, 4H and other agricultural clubs,on-line forums, on-line specialty shops,

I live in an area with a large active spinners guild that holds several fiber sales during the year. The sales are a great way to see and feel different kinds of fibers and see wonderful finished goods. I've also ordered fiber on-line from folks I've found at the Felting and Needle Felting Forum and from sites that are recommended by felting forum members.

The price of fiber varies a lot depending on the the type of fiber, quality and how much processing is already done.
There are many kinds of fiber that are usefull for felting. Even fiber that doesn't felt is valued by some needle felters as a core for soft sculptures.

When you are looking at fiber, availability, cost and processing are considerations.
I was given two large bags of nice red and orange lama fiber for free. The woman who kept the lamas as pets didn't want to bother with the fiber. But a free bag of "raw" lama fiber tips the scale way over to low cost, high effort. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves.
But, to me, washing sorting and dyeing the fiber is as much fun as felting.
But one caution, small bits of vegetable matter (VM) are very difficult to remove.

Whole Raw Fleece The whole fleece, vm, dirt, dung and all Needs to be skirted, picked and washed
Some fleece will lose up to 1/2 of it's weight by the time it's ready to use
Skirted Raw Fleece Just the best part of the fleece. Still has dirt and a little vm Still needs to be picked and washed. Depending on the amount of grease a skirted fleece will lose up to 1/3 of it's weight by the time it's "clean".
Skirted, Washed, Picked Fleece Should be clean with very little vm. May still show lock structure Ready to use or card into top, roving or batts
felting batts
(not quilt batting)
Thin sheets of fiber, random direction.
Ready to use. It's available in various sizes and is usually used for flat
roving Long, narrow strips of batt. Ready to use, usually wound into balls
Pencil roving is narrow, like a pencil and is usually used for hand spinning
top long, narrow strips of fiber, combed so the individual fibers are alligned Ready to use, wound into balls or folded into hanks. Because the fibers are aligned it's often used for the "hair" on dolls and the fur on long haired little animals

Alpaca,
Fine to Coarse, Soft to Hairy
I find raw alpaca easier to prepare than raw wool. It is slower to felt than most wool. Some folks describe it as "slippery".

The color and texture of the fiber depends on where on the animal it's clipped from.
This is my favorite fiber. It's soft and fluffy and comes in lots of natural colors. Since it isn't "greasy" it,s easy to wash and doesn't lose much weight in the process.

The white fiber can be very bright white compared to most wool. It can be dyed with the same techniques used for wool.

For needle felting the softest, finest fiber can be used for fine details and soft surface textures. The coarser fiber can be needled into a very hard, dense felt that's great for making 3-D figures. Check out my galleries for some Alpaca 3-D figures.

Alpaca can be wet felted it just takes a bit longer than wool.

For information about Alpacas check out the Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm.


Washed and sorted shades of Fawn colored Alpaca
2nds and 3rds

Red and White "blanket" fiber.

Needle Felted Bears and Alpaca Fiber

Bichon Needle Felted from White Alpaca
wet felted cormo/alpaca scarf


.These are a couple of little figures made of alpaca fiber

Angora Rabbit
Very fine, soft, and light.
Angora rabbits can make nice pets so you could
"grow your own" fiber even if you live in an apartment.
It has to be washed very carefully or it will matt together.

For needle felting it's nice for fine details and very small 3-D figures and for
adding a very soft surface.
Work it with the finest needle you can get.

For wet felting it can be carded with wool or alpaca to make super soft felt


This is an ounce of clipped fawn angora. It's the wholeclipping including some matted and stained fiber.Once it's pulled apart and washed it will fluff up to twice this volume
This is 1/2 ounce of plucked gray angora.
It doesn't have any cut ends to make the felt itchey.

Mohair (Angora Goat)

Most angora goat "mohair" is white. It's usually bright white and glossy.
Kid fleece is very soft, glossy and curley. The fleece from older goats is coarse and straight but still glossy.

For needle felting I use this for details that look like hair. For example the main and tail on the Pony and the curly beard on Santa.

It's also great carded into wool to give it a nice sheen. Kid mohair locks are great to add to wet felted projects for interesting textures.
The long, coarse mohair from older animals can be blended with wool to make a strong felt that can be made into durable slippers.


Adult Mohair Top Adult Silver and White Kid Mohair Locks

Hand carded, dyed and wet felted mohair. Stuffed and needlefelted details Wet Felted Wool and Mohair Slippers


Dyed Mohair Details on Wet Felted Fish

This is Angora Goat "Kid" fiber carded and combed into "top".
All of the fibers are lined up in the same direction.

Camel

I was surprised to find camel fiber from camels that live in Michigan.
It's very soft and light. I found it at the Spinners Flock fiber sale.
It's just for fun.

This is 2 ounces of "camel wool" roving. It's the under coat from the camel.
Most of the long "hair" has been removed but there are still a few strays.

Sheep's Wool

Sheep's wool comes in lots of textures and colors.
It's widely available in various forms from a bag of fiber right off the shearing floor to
batts, roving, top and clean loose curls.
It's available in lots of colors and blends of colors and accepts dye readily.
If you can get a chance to see and feel some samples at a Fiber Festival or Specialty Shop your bound
to find something irresistible.

For needlefelting every type of wool that I've tried felts. But the results are very different
depending on the wool and the felting needle that you use.

I like Merino, Romney, Corriedale and mixed breed sheep of these breeds for a general purpose fiber.
These can be carded together to create shades of colors and various textures.
They can also be blended with other fibers like mohair, alpaca, silk, angora and metalic polyester to create the colors and textures you need.
For fine surface details I love cormo. It's also the brightest white wool that I've found.
Carded fleece, top, roving, pencil roving, batting and locks all work for needle felting.

For wet felting fine, crimpy "spinning" wools like Cormo and Merino felt really fast and can be made into a very thin, soft felt.
Fine to medium, crimpy "spinning" wools like corriedale and romney felt pretty fast and make felt that isn't quite as soft and has more loft.
Coarse wool like karakul takes a lot of work to get it to felt but it makes a very glossy firm and durable felt.

wool figures

These guys are needle felted wool



Qiviut

Since most fiber is very light and can be compressed into a small package it's an easy souvenir.
Hand combed qiviut (musk ox wool) carded and guard hairs removed is about $40 an oz so it's not
something I'd usually use for 3-D needle felting but it was fun to bring home from Alaska.

It's very light, soft and wooly but it has quite a bit of stray guard hair.

An ounce of Musk Ox Wool