Tag Archives: carding

Carding the grays

Before I move on the carding, I want to record some stats – mostly for me, but I know eventually someone will ask ‘How long did it take?’ and ‘How much fiber did you use?’

Time table:

Skirting and cleaning of each fleece = 20 minutes, total of 40 minutes

Washing of each fleece = 2 hours, total of 4 hours.   Although it took the better part of a day to wash each fleece, most of that time was spent in waiting while the fiber soaked, so I’m really only counting the active-duty time.

Weighing and combining colors = 20 minutes

TOTAL of time on previous post = 5 hours

Fiber total:

I’ve named the grays G1, G2, G3 and G4, from lightest to darkest respectively, and then solid black.  Each of the grays is 7.5 ounces.  G1 is 1.5 black, 6 white. G2 is 3 black, 4.5 white.  G3 is 4.5 black, 3 white. G4 is 6 black and 1.5 white.  I have about 9.5 ounce of solid black that I carded.

TOTAL fiber is 39.5 ounces

*** Special note here ***  I do NOT think my shawl will require all the yarn that I will spin from this fiber, but I want to card and spin all of it to get the varied colors.  When the shawl is complete, I can weigh the left over yarn and determine how much I did use and then calculate the time required for the carding and spinning of the shawl’s yarn.

Now on to the carding!

clean carder

Looks like new!

First was to clean my carder.  After carding lots of unwashed fiber for felting, my carder needed a good cleaning!

mixing fiber

In the bag

Above is G1, the lightest gray.  I tried to mix the fiber in a bag, but fiber does not mix like, say, cookie dough!  I started carding.

partially carded

G1, first pass

After all 7.5 ounces had been carded, it still looked pretty streaked.  So I split all the batts into lengthwise strips and mixed them up in the bag.  And carded again.

carded batts

G1 is done

While not perfectly blended, it is much better.  Spinning and plying will further the blending process.  And, I’m not looking for perfection.  If I was, I could go to Walmart and buy gray yarn (okay, not alpaca yarn, but you get my point, right?)  I tried to time the carding of each color.  They varied somewhat, but generally took about 90 minutes per gray.

carded fiber


This is G2 after being carded twice.

carded fiber


And G3.

carded fiber


G4, the darkest gray.

carded fiber

Black batts

There is more black, about 9.5 ounces, which took about 2 hours to card.  I carded it twice since it took that much to get it into spinning condition.

5 carded batts

Shades of gray

And there they are.  Although G1 and G2 look similar in the photo, as a whole, G2 is darker as the picture of the pile of batts shows.

TOTAL time for carding = 1.5 hours x 4 grays + 2 hours for black = 8 hours.

I will spending this Friday at Pioneer Days in Albany, MN doing the spinning demonstration.  I’ll start spinning G1.  I think I will take G2 along, but I really don’t think I will come close to finishing G1.  I want to spin a relatively thin single ply, so it will take some time.


How to power a carder!

Lately I’ve needed a lot of carded fiber — for felting soap, making cat toys and making dryer balls.  Especially the dryer balls!  So I started putting out inquiries into an electric carder for sale.  Well, they are really expensive.  So I explored the idea of adding a motor to my Louet carder.  But I really like my carder and didn’t want to cut the crank off to hook up a motor. 


My Louet Jr carder

By chance I mentioned my quest to Rachel of Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Processing.  She has a fiber MILL!  And she happened to have an old manual drum carder that she didn’t use any longer.  She gave it to me!  (Thanks, Rachel)


Carder from Rachel

It is wider and can take more fiber at a time, however the little wire teeth are shorter, so less fiber can stack up before it has to be removed. 

I immediately took the carder to my dad.  Luckily, he is between ice fishing and baling hay, so my project went to the front of the line!  He cut off the crank and ground it down a little smaller in diameter.

carder, side view

The handle was here

Then he connected a drill to that shaft as if it were a drill bit.  I was a bit sceptical at first, but…..

carder and drill

Carder and drill

It works!  It is a little tricky to hold a steady speed, but I came up with the idea of a C-clamp.  After finding the perfect C-clamp – big enough, but not so heavy it falls off – I had those drums just humming along. 

drill with C-clamp

Drill clamped to the right speed

And the best part?  When the drum is full, I can just lift the clamp off, put the drill in reverse and slowly run the drill in reverse to turn the drums backwards to remove the batt of carded fiber.  The only thing left to do is buy my own drill.  I’m pretty sure the one above was just a loaner to see if the process worked.  I have a ball winder that needs some repairs, so I need to stay on the good side of my fix-it guy!  (Thanks, Dad)

My special project – Step 2

With the black fiber washed and dried, the next step is to card it.  But my carder has most recently been used to card fiber for cat toys or felting soap.  Neither of these requires a clean carder or concern of mixing colors.  In fact, I usually switch from brown to white without cleaning the carder, so I get some tan fiber to use.

dirty carder

My carder – Before

 My carder needed to be cleaned.

dirty carder

From the front

I didn’t want this mixture of white and brown, coarse and fine fiber on the carder to be mixed with the very soft black I would be carding. 

clean carder

My carder – After

So I cleaned my carder until it was looking like new.

clean carder

Front view of clean

 With the help of my vacuum cleaner, I got nearly every stray fiber removed from my carder.   A long over-due cleaning was completed.

pile of batts

Batts carded once

First, I carded all the fiber one time and piled up the batts.  The fibers were not quite ready for spinning.

fiber carded once

First time through

Above is a batt held up to a window.  You can see that there are still clumps of fiber.  Another time through the carder is needed.

fiber carded twice4

Twice through the carder

After a second time, the carded fiber is much more aligned and ready to be spun. 

batts rolled and bagged

Batts are ready to be spun

I roll each batt up into a roll and pile them into a bag.  Step 2 is done.  Step 3 is spinning the fiber into yarn!