You are why we do what we do
We are so proud to offer hand-crafted products that are made from natural fibres, produced ethically on our farm using our own alpaca fleeces.
– Melanie Knowles
I am Melanie – teacher, felt maker and alpaca farmer. I spent my childhood sketching, dancing and building cubbies in the bush. I have a degree in education from the University of Canberra majoring in visual arts and special needs.
Before I created BBOHE, I always suffered from cold feet. My socks were not warm enough and my slippers made my feet sweaty and uncomfortable.
Then one day I stumbled upon something quite amazing. Using fleece, from my alpacas, I made my first pair of wet felted slippers. Not for myself, mind you, but for my husband. He said that they kept his feet cosy without making them too warm. I was so excited.
A few months later I got some terrible news – my aunty was battling cancer and her treatment was causing her feet to feel cold. I set about making her a pair of alpaca felt slippers. She loved them and I was pleased that I could provide her with some comfort during her recovery.
I went on to make more slippers for the rest of my family and they all loved the comfort and warmth that the alpaca felt provided. And yes, I did finally make a pair for myself!
I had so much alpaca fleece …..
from my beautiful animals but I was concerned that maybe no one would purchase my slippers as felt slippers are commonplace in Europe but not Australia.
I continued talking to people about my craft and I began to see that many people suffered from cold feet. I knew that I could contribute to their comfort and well-being with my products.
I began making more slippers for friends and family. It was their positive feedback that made me strive to develop my felting skills using my alpaca fibre.
I started supplying a local craft shop with my work and the response was very favourable. I even started getting repeat clients!
A few years ago I took a great leap and designed my own website. Bbohe was now online and I could help to bring comfort to more people.
I set out to create the most …..
luxuriously warm felt slippers for people who wanted the comfort of natural alpaca combined with cool designs and colours.
However, as it turned out, the road was more difficult than I imagined….
I had to learn how to process my fibre in an environmentally friendly way – sourcing products for this was difficult. I had to develop my own techniques for working with alpaca fibre as it behaves differently from wool; and overcome issues with durability, especially with my slippers.
After much searching…….
I found an Australian product that uses natural ingredients, to process my fleeces. I continued to modify and improve my felt-making techniques to craft high-quality products that are durable, practical and beautiful.
As an artisan, I am totally immersed in the whole process of felt-making. It is a great joy to be able to grow and make something from the land in which you live. I hope that my customers will love wearing my designs as much as I enjoy creating them.
Felt-making is my passion!
Through it all……..
my little business is growing steadily. The alpaca fibre….. well it is magical. No wonder the Incas called it “the fibre of the gods”.
Thank you for your interest and support.