How to Process Wool: Carding with a Drum Carder

This will be the last post in our series on How to Process Wool.  You can read previous posts by clicking the following links:

Sheep to Spinning Wheel

Washing

Picking

Once your wool is fluffed up, clean, and picked – free from any lanolin, vegetable matter, and short second cuts – you are ready to put it through the carder.

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We have the Elite Convertible Drum Carder from Clemes and Clemes.  It is a hand crank with optional electric addition that can handle about 1 oz of wool at a time depending on what we are doing with it.

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We begin feeding the wool in, small amounts at a time, being sure to load evenly on both sides and the center.  The goal is to have a nice even batt of fiber all around the entire drum.  As we feed it in the first time, some fiber is going one direction, some is going another.  That is fine because it will help the carder do a little bit of picking as well – spitting out some of the VM that might be left in the wool.  We use the burnishing brush as we crank to help pack the wool onto the carder and brush it all in the right direction.

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Once the drum is full we find the metal strip on the drum and insert the doffer under the fiber and use it to break the batt so we can remove it from the drum.

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Next, we attach the batt lifter and carefully roll the batt off of the drum.

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We now have a batt.  Usually after only one round through the carder the wool isn’t carded enough and it needs to be run through again.

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We run it through again in the same way, except we feed it in tips first for worsted.  It isn’t going in all directions like the first time through.

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When we remove it from the carder the second time we can spin right from the bat, or if we want roving we put it back through.

To feed it back through for roving we again feed it by the tips, not perpendicular.  And we pack it with the packing brush instead of the burnishing brush.

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Then we use the doffer to break off just about 1 inch of the batt along the edge at the metal strip.

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Using a crochet hook we insert that into the diz.

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The next step has taken some practice to master.  We pull the fiber through the diz while working our way around the carder in a spiral fashion from one edge towards the other by going around and around.

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Then we have our roving!  We wrap it into a “nest” and it is ready for spinning.

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When we are done for the day, or ready to switch to a different fiber, we use the flicker to clean off the drums.  We brush it is short strokes opposite the direction of the carder combs.

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We have now shown you the very basics of processing wool with our drum carder.  There are many different things you can do with how you feed the wool in and how you pack it to effect your finished product.  But this is the basic way to do it for worsted yarn.

We really enjoy processing our wool by hand from our sheep all the way to roving (for braided rugs) or yarn (for knitting and crochet).  While it is a very tedious process, it is also very satisfying in a unique way that I have not found in many other areas of life.

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