this is my friend.. cardzilla!!!!

hi everyone,

so I have been thinking this week about a topic that I like to talk about, and so it was either going to be something about dyeing, a spinning technique or fibre prep. In the end I decided on fibre prep, but what about it?!!! well, something I often see discussed is drumcarding, so I thought it was probably my turn to share how I do mine.

ok, so first I shall introduce you to my friend :

this is Cardzilla… he is my beloved drumcarder. to be exaxt he is a Pat green debs delux. the teeth on this carder is very fine. it is 128 PPSI, so in comparison to the norm of about 72, this carder is fine. It also has a crawly slow infeed ratio of 30:1, so it can handle fine fibre like angora bunny. This is the carder I do over 90% of my drumcarding on.

so. How do I get this monster to make batts? well… like this:

I start inevitably with a fleece. This one is probably one of the nicest fleeces I have. Its a BFL/ryeland I bought from Olwen Veevers 2 wonderwools ago. its all sorted into colours (variegated greys), and is well washed. I have been lucky here in the fact the prep is going to be easier for this fleece as its firstly very open, not at all felted, and doesnt have any breaks or brittle tips.

so first step, is prepping the fleece for the carder. this means teasing. Teasing is “opening up” the locks.

for teasing I start at the edge of a chunk of fleece like here:

from this photo, you can see that the lock length is pretty long. Probably about 5 or 6 inches – on the long end of what i’d probably want to put thr0ugh my carder.

what I do to tease it, it lightly hold each side of the lock, and pull, so I basically pull the lock out sideways, attenuating it into a sort of long thin fluffy bunch of fluff haha to try and describe it.

here we are…. this pic above ^ shows what I mean. I’ve attenuated out sideways the lock. this means it’ll go through my drumcarder easily and wont bend any teeth. It will also make for a batt needing less passes.

ok, so I do this with a whole chunk of fleece.

Here is that chunk of fleece in the first pic all teased and now ready to be put through my drumcarder.

the next step, is to put the fleece through the drumcarder.

on my drumcarder i’m lucky in that I have a feed tray on my drumcarder making things easier. I lay on a wafer thin layer of fleece. literally wafer thin. If I can’t read a newspaper through it then its too thick. This photo shows about how thin your layers should I think ideally be.

after laying these locks on the tray, using one hand to turn the handle, I use the other hand to very lightly apply just a teensy bit of pressure onto the locks if they look like theyre being drawn in too quickly ect. apart from that, I don’t touch the fibre otherwise, it will run around the lickerin (smaller drum) and get stuck.

I keep going adding layers of locks onto the drum in the same way until I have them built up on the carder so as they go up to the level of the teeth, so essentially you cant see any carder teeth sticking out from the fleece. I give this a squish to see how compact it is, and if it’s a bit airy, then I use a paintbrush to apply pressure and turn the handle, which just squishes the fibres down a bit and makes a more dense, orderly batt.

after i’m happy with the amount of fibre on the large drum, then I have to take it off for the first time. I use the doffer stick (pictured in first pic of cardzilla). I find the metal strip which can be seen here in the above photo, and place it under the fibre. I run it along the whole length of the strip so the lot of the wool on the metal strip is on the doffer stick, I then pull up and back. this detaches the fibres and makes them come off of the carder in the right direction so they dont get resnagged by the teeth. this is what my batt looks like after doffing:

I then grab the end of the batt you can see in the photo is off of the batt where the doffer stick is. this is the opposite wat to the way the teeth face, so the batt comes off easily. I use one hand to hold the top of the batt, and the other hand to turn the handle the anticlockwise slowly whilsy peeling the batt off the drum. after the Batt is off of the drum, it has now been carded for the first time.

from this pic, you can see that whilst the prep is pretty good, there are still some uneven spots in the batts which might not make it as spinnable as you might like.

to make this batt nice and even, it needs to be passed through the drumcarder another time. to do this, the batt first has to be stripped down. the same rules as the first pass apply. wafter thin layers. what I do, is to tear strips off of the side of the batt, and open them out sideways and pass those through the carder.

like this:

then finally after the fibre has been carded onto the drum the second time, it needs to be doffed off of the drum, which is done exactly the same way as before. the resulting batt after doffing is as you can see from the below picture, far more even, and uniform. this will be smooth and just gorgeous to spin.

for me, after I’ve carded a batt, I like to fold it lengthways in half, then twist as if it were a skein of yarn lightly, and wrap it round my hand before tucking the end in where I take my hand out from. this just makes the batt I feel into a more manageable small “pack”. I can fill a bag with small “nests” and then spin them later.

heres what they look like:

now as a conclusion to this post. this is just how I card normal fleece. not extra fine or extra long fleece. they require extra steps which I havent got time to go into at the moment.

i’ll also say I am at an advantage with this fleece and my carder. You may find that many fleeces arent like this in the way they wont be as unfelted as mine, and they wont be as open, and might not have as few brittle tips of breaks. If yours do, then you may find flicking each lock  better than teasing. the same rule applies for feeding locks onto the carder though.

you may also need more passes than I do aswell. my carder as i’ve said, is ultra fine toothed, so it will often card a batt more smoothly in fewer passes. whereas then I only need 2 for this fleece, you may need between 3 and 5 to get a decent batt, but its down to personal preference and how you like batts, and how fine your drumcarder is ect.

anyway. this is how I card, 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and happy carding!!!!

Longdrawjames 🙂 x


7 responses to this post.

  1. brilliant written blog post James 🙂


  2. Posted by Heather on April 3, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Hi James, Thanks for starting this blog. I am still a newbie spinner but gradually improving. I have a drumcarder which I love. Look forward to seeing some more tutorials when you have time.


  3. Fantastic post! Fleeces, prep and carding in just on post!
    It’s such a good idea that you talk about those things…
    And I love to spin from batts, maybe it’s not as smoother as spinning from roving, but I love the idea of being able to “construct” our own blends or colour blends!


  4. Posted by ehdknits on April 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    really interesting even though I just knit….nice to meet you in wonderwales,erica


  5. Superbly written James, thank you
    I sooooo want a drumcarder, but need a wheel first LOL!
    Hope you post your Longdraw vid here.
    Deb x


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