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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.