Feltfine: April Guest speaker
Gary Sheen is a retired engineer who worked in three dimensional design and construction. He developed a fibre business with his partner, Kristen Ashley, a high school art teacher, as a result of falling in love with felting.
Although his mother was a crafter, he grew up a city boy in Newcastle and had no experience of fibre animals until he went to a Tocal Field Day 10 years ago. After walking the Inca trail in Peru the following year, he bought a pair of alpacas. Within two years the flock had increased to 65 suri alpaca. If he had realised that Huacaya fleece is easier to process . . . . Now he has reduced his flock to 25 with one Huacaya male.
He had a stockpile of 200Kg of fibre when the alpaca industry collapsed. Then Kristen gave him a felting workshop for a birthday present and he fell in love with felt. And he had the fibre to make lots and lots of hats. He has made and sold at least 350 cloche hats in the last three years but still has a stockpile of fibre. Plus he has added other fibres and yarns to his stash. Adding merino to alpaca makes it easier to felt. Mohair yarns make lovely accents. And when you are making articles to sell, it makes sense to buy wholesale, in bulk. This leads to a serious stash. The obvious solution is to share it with other fibre devotees. Hence, his business, FelfFine has developed.