Drum and hand carders, not “vs” but together

I must admit that since I bought my Wild Carder I hadn’t picked up my hand carders, until now.

When I first started to spin I had a half-day class where I bought my Kiwi, (from the lovely lady at the Threshing Barn http://www.threshingbarn.com/  in 2003).  I brought my Kiwi back to Chile and started using mohair from my goats.  Mohair that was not pure, not from kids, and not sheared well, but it was all I had and I had to figure it out.

Locks which are better carder or combed before putting in the drum carder

Spinning it was not that difficult, I had nothing to compare it to, so I worked with its smooth properties, spinning it with little twist so it did not become twine.  But carding it was hard work.  I realise now that the fleeces were slightly matted, and trying to card matted mohair is almost impossible.  Over the years I received sheep and alpaca fleeces, and my year in England gave me access to different types and qualities of wool.  Using hand carders is different depending on the quality of the wool and it is much easier when the wool is clean and soft.  But everyone who uses hand carders thinks at some time, “hey, this might be easier with a drum carder”.

Locks carded before put in the drum carder

I definitely thought this, so I bought the Wild Carder.  I did not realise that it was the quality of the wool I was working with that was making carding so time consuming, very greasy and dirty sheep, or matted mohair!  Now that I am back on the farm with my Wild Carder, and my hand carders, and a selection of different wools, I have been experimenting.  I did not understand why people said they combed their wool before putting it through the drum carder.  Then the other day I hand carded my wool before putting it through the drum carder and it made a big difference.  The Wild Carder, is narrower than my hand carders and I believe the process is different.

Batt next to a rolag, (with colour enhancement)

With hand carders you place the wool on one and pass the other carder over it repeatedly until the wool is how you like it.  The drum carder takes the same wool and passes it from the small drum to the big one, then layers more wool on top of that.  The hand carders give you small individual rolags, whereas the drum carder creates batts with more fibre all aligned in one direction.  If the wool is matted or dirty, it will not be ready for spinning with just one pass through the drum carder.  That would be like one or two passes with the hand carders.  I love the batts that my drum carder creates and using my hand carders with it will make better batts.

Drum carded batts showing blended colours

Of course these are my observations with my Wild Carder, which is quite specific and different from other carders.  I have never used other carders, and I don’t know if when other people buy drum carders they forget about their hand carders.  If you do, it might be worth digging them out and seeing how they can work with your drum carder.

Spun and plied with a purple wool

7 thoughts on “Drum and hand carders, not “vs” but together

  1. Lindsay says:

    That is some gorgeous yarn you ended up with there! I’m hoping to buy a drum carder soon 🙂

  2. Caroline says:

    Hey there,
    Just came across your blog and enjoyed reading it! I like the mix of woolly things, butchery and life!
    Funnily enough I just wrote a post on how little I like fleece preparation…and I think it was also from working with difficult fleeces. Hard to find a good fleece though! (And I live in Ireland…many sheep!)
    Anyway, just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your blog, its really interesting to see people doing similar things in totally different parts of the world. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for the visit! I agree, it is so interesting to see how we all do our “things” in different parts of the world. How our environment effects the way we do things!

      Going to go peak at your blog, 🙂

  3. olivia lavelle says:

    hi, I am trying to buy something for my friend for her 30th she has hand carders and I know she was saying that a drum carder was too expensive for her…but as there is a few of us it wont cost as much! Im in ireland, and Im wondering if you could advise me of a place to buy a drum carder…also do you think its a drum carder shes needs at this stage? she is making stuff from the wool of the sheep down the field! so lots of washing and hand cardering! thanks Olivia

    • Hi Olivia, thanks for visiting.
      A drum carder would be a lovely gift for your friend! I only have experience with my Wild Carder, and I know many people recommend trying different drum carders before buying. Also a drum carder makes the work easier, but not much quicker.

      A tool I really like for working with fleeces is the wool picker I made. It opens the wool and makes carding easier. They are also an expensive tool, but if you know some one who works with wood they can be made. (check out my wool picker posts to see how I made mine).

      I don’t know where in Ireland you can buy drum carders, but I had good results with handspinner.co.uk and winghamwoolwork.co.uk

      Sorry if I haven’t been much help, but whatever you buy your friend, she will be happy. Us fibre junkies love everything to do with fibre and its preparation!

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