The Scotsman was out doing a spot of ushering at our new local theatre on Friday when he bumped into an acquaintance of ours. “Where’s Tess?” she asked.

“Learning to make felt slippers at an alpaca farm on the Isle of Wight

“That sounds like Tess!” she replied.

Actually I nearly didn’t go as on Wednesday last week I fell over my own feet on High Holborn, and my right arm took the brunt of the fall.  Very luckily I am left handed.  Even more luckily the injuries turned out to be comparatively minor – sore, but not long lasting and after a few painkillers and a couple of days in a sling my arm was back to a reasonably useable state.  Probably not really in a state to make felt with but as I had booked a train/ferry and a B&B as well as the course I was pretty determined to go.  (I know it doesn’t take that long to get to the Isle of Wight but by public transport it wasn’t possible to get where I needed to be by 10am)

Alpacas in the Isle of Wight

Alpacas in the Isle of Wight

As it turned out the B & B was a delight, the Isle of Wight lovely once it stopped raining and the alpaca’s adorable (see above).  Although as I discovered on Saturday some alpacas are prettier than others…There were also some delightfully feathery chickens running around loose.

As for the slippers – well I can’t show you them yet as we ran out of time to finish them…..maybe we spent too long eating lunch as it was a lovely sunny day!  And I did have to do a certain amount of rolling and rubbing one handed as the day progressed.  But as I expected I picked up some useful tips from Gillian who was teaching the class – it’s always the advantage of learning from a person rather than from a book or UTube.  And I bought a load of alpaca tops (ie carded and prepared fleece) – and two alpaca shaped shortbread biscuits for the Scotsman…

I also had my first go at making felt using net (which was what always used to be used) rather than the thin plastic sheeting I am used to.  I can see its advantages as you can actually add warm soapy water through the net rather than having to lift up the plastic and risk disturbing the fibres. 

Now I just have to get rolling so I can at least get both slippers fully felted and at the same stage.  Then if I don’t think my arm will take it I can at least let them dry out, and wait till my arm is fully better before I stick them on my feet in a bowl of warm soapy water and work on shaping and fulling (shrinking) them.