international feltmakers association


Feltmaking in Ethiopia

Last year, Chris Garrett from The Donkey Sanctuary spent a day with Liz Clay learning how to make felt that could be used for harnesses for donkeys. An article was published in Felt Matters (issue 99) and Chris has contacted us with an update from Ethiopia.

Following the article last year, The Donkey Sanctuary received a pair of carding combs for use overseas from Margaret & Leslie Kinsman of Yorkshire. The combs travelled out with the Overseas Departments boss, Stephen Blakeway on his way to Addis Ababa, where they were sent on to their final destination in Bahirdar on the shores of Lake Tana, Ethiopia.

Chris explains "In February, 2010 I ran a harness making course there, and for the first time we included felt making, this has continued amongst some of the students. The donated combs are now in constant use making padding for the donkeys out there; the donkeys are getting better harnesses in Bahirdar which means that they don’t suffer from the awful sores that they used to get so much. This means that they work better, which in turn means that the families who rely on them for a living make a better income. Our teams are out there running clinics, and teaching the people about donkey welfare, and with that little increase in income they can afford to spend a little more on the donkey itself."

"The donated combs and the felt they produce have become a great source of interest locally, and others are now interested in making felt, too. So now a previously unused material, wool not only has a use but possibly will gain a value; theoretically, the long term effects of that are immeasurable."

Thank you from all the donkeys of Bahirdar!