Sunday, July 31, 2011

Carding on the Carding Machine

It's time to card the scoured Karakul-Coopworth fleece! I have a Strauch carding machine. It is a high quality machine, and I decided that if I were going to purchase one, I would get the best, and I have not been sorry. This carder works like a dream, and is very well constructed.
I apply slight pressure to the wool as it is fed into the machine (you can see the hand crank in the bottom right corner, as well as in the photo above), just to guide it, and assist in separating the fibers a bit as they feed onto the drum. Be careful not to let too much on at once--it is a good idea to pick the clumps of wool apart a bit before placing them onto the metal tray at the front. The carder came with a fleece teasing tool, as well, to asist with this job.This model has a brush attachment at the top--be sure the brush is in contact with the large drum. This keeps the fibers against the drum while carding. See the photo below.

The wool is distributing onto the drum here. This fleece is not a particularly clean one, there are many bits of chaff  and grass in it. Although I tried to remove some of it during preparation for scouring, there is still some left. I will have to pick it out as I spin. When shopping for fleece, you have to weigh the price against the features of the fleece! I loved the color, and the price was right. The wool is so soft, I was willing to overlook the bits of chaff......!

Time to remove or "doff" the carded batt. Using a "batt picker", I lift and pull the batt up at the space on the drum where there are no carding teeth. Slide the hooked end of the picker under the fibers at the end, lift, and pull slowly. The fibers will release. Continue across the channel in this way, untill you have finished, and the fibers are free of the teeth in this area.

I generally run the batt through the carder 3 times. After the first carding, split the batt in two, as shown here, on the left. Then, card each strip again. You can decide how much of the batt to recharge onto the carder. If the batt seems too thick, don't add all of the wool back on. Once you get the feel for how the batts look as they come off the carder, you can adjust the amounts you are feeding in. If there is too much wool, it becomes lumpy, and the feeder drum (the smaller of the two drums) cannot do its job. The photo on the right above shows the removal of the finished batt. Grasp the ends of the fibers (two hands are better! I used one hand, so I could take a photo with the other....), and slowly pull the batt off the drum. The drum will rotate as you pull. Loosen any stray ends from the drum as you pull. You can also use a cloth or an old placemat or piece of heavy construction paper to roll the batt onto, as you remove it. This ensures that all of the stray fibers get caught into the matt as you roll off the batt. Then, simply unroll the matt to reveal the batt. You can then re-roll the batt as shown below.

These batts are ready for spinning! Can't wait to get started! I have to hide these from our kitty, Mason. He LOVES the natural, outdoorsy smell (you can imagine!), and quickly shreds them when he finds them. I keep everything fiber-y covered and out of his reach. He likes to get ahold of my yarn balls and literally entwines my entire house with a yarn trail, both upstairs and down. Serious business! And it takes the better part of the morning to untangle and remove his yarn artwork from my stairs, furniture and equipment!

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