When we started this blog and renovation the one thing that kept coming up was what can we use to put on top of our lovely, but cold, Tas oak polished floors. The answer is rugs. The problem was that we could not find good, natural, eco rugs at a price that we could afford.
That was until one weekend in New Norfolk when we were performing Punch and Judy shows at a festival the way forward presented itself. Our neighbouring stall consisted of three very friendly Alpacas and there owner Tracey from Olmec Alpacas. She was selling quilt batting made from her own Alpaca fleece along with coloured rovings ( fleece that has been carded and is ready for spinning). The rovings had been dyed with organic, natural dyes. Mandy bought a kit for needle felting .(No we had not heard of it either!)
A very simple process where by punching the rovings in with a barbed needle they become enmeshed with the fibres of the batting, thus felting together. Very simple to do!! Mandy embellished a felt hat that she already had and got great feedback from people. Then we learnt that you could purchase a thicker batting at a very reasonable price. EUREKA moment, lets make our own rugs, Local produced Alpaca fleece 100%, organic dyed rovings, it all fits the billf or our green renovation. So thats what we decided to do. We ordered a few meters of the thicker quilt batting and more coloured rovings. Whilst waiting for this to arrive as the manufacturer in Victoria was holding things up a little we researched on the internet to see if you could obtain a mechanical means to needle felt as the areas we had to do were fairly large. There were machines by Bernina at around $500 or so. A bit expensive as it was only like a sewing machine but with a group of barbed needles. BUT wait in the good ol’ USA you could buy an attachment for a sewing machine for around $50.00 US from Feltcrafts.com
It duly arrived and we went to the Deloraine tip shop and bought an old Singer for $5.00 ripped the guts out, made a bigger table for it and Voila! a mechanical needle felter
We tried it out on a small piece and it worked beautifully. Now for the large rug. We had designed a motif for the house which we intend to use throughout and we blew it up and tranferred the design on o the felt. Mandy used a hand needle felter to fix the rovings and then onto the machine. It worked fine but you have to roll up the rug to fit it under the arm. Also the needles tended to break and they are quite expensive at $2.00 each. If you break all six on the adpator that is $12.00 a time.
Back to the drawing board. I was moving a foam mattress inside when it came to me. You use foam under the felt for the needles to go into. You need something that will go up and down mechanically. I had an old jigsaw power tool that still worked but the blade holder was worn out. It had a variable speed control which might help. All I had to do was figure out how to adapt the needle holder to fit onto the jigsaw. Turned out to be so easy, remove the jigsaw blade holder, slip on the needle adapter and tighten the screw. Too easy.