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Preparing Fibre for Spinning

  • 5 min read
Getting fibre ready for spinning
Turning fibre into yarn. (Image courtesy of Ashford Wheels and Looms)

The world of fibre arts offers endless possibilities for crafters of all ages. One of the most popular fibre crafts is spinning, which involves manipulating and twisting fibres in order to use them in another fibre process. Spinning lets you create your own yarn for weaving, knitting and many more yarn creation projects. But before you are able to start making your own yarn, you must first learn the process of preparing fibre for spinning.

Fibres must undergo the carding process and that’s what we are going to discuss in this article. Read on to learn more about carding and the different carding tools.

What is Carding?

Carding is the process of straightening out fibre and preparing it for spinning into yarn. This is an important step because the fibres have to be totally free of any dirt before you can use them for spinning.

preparing fibre for spinning using a drum carder
Carding fibre using the drum carder. (Image courtesy of Ashford Wheels and Looms)

The different carding tools include hand carders, carding combs, flick carders, drum carders and blending boards. These carding tools have different sizes and capacities, but one thing they have in common is the metal teeth that the fibres go through in the carding process.

Carding Terms You Need to Know

When you are new to the fibre arts, you are likely to come across new words and phrases. Here are a few of the common terms you will come across when learning about preparing fibre for spinning.

1. Batt

The term batt refers to fibre that has been carded on a board or has gone through a drum carder. It resembles a lofty blanket or a wide fluffy sheet. The video from Ashford Handicrafts below demonstrates how a fibre batt is made on a drum carder.

How to Make Batts for Felting:

A video demonstrating how to make a fibre batt. (Video from Ashford Wheels and Looms)

2. Rolag

A rolag is a roll of fibre that has been carded and is ready to spin. Generally, rolags are created on hand cards or blending boards and are ideal for blending fibres and colours together.

How to Produce Rolags:

A video showing the rolag preparation of fibre for spinning using a blending board. (Video from Ashford Wheels and Looms)

3. Teeth & Carding Cloth

In carding, “teeth” pertain to the metal bristles used to brush the fibres in order to straighten them out. The more teeth the carder has, the finer the carding will be. Examples of this are the fine and extra-fine hand carders from Louet.

The carding cloth, which is the base fabric, is measured by the TPI or the number of teeth per inch. Basically, TPI determines how densely the teeth are packed together in the carder. For example, Ashford’s standard hand carder has 72 TPI while their fine hand carder has 108 TPI.

TPI is also referred to as PPSI or point per square inch. The higher the number, the more appropriate it is for carding finer and luxury fibres.

Preparing Fibre For Spinning: Carding Tools Explained

There are several different tools used in the preparation of fibre for spinning;

1. Hand Carders

Hand carder lets you prepare fibres in the traditional way. It is always sold in a set of two because it is used in pairs when preparing fibres for spinning or blending coloured fibres.

Hand carders with fine teeth are best used for carding softer fibres like Angora wool or cotton, while hand carders with coarse teeth are helpful when carding coarse fibres. Hand carders come in small and large sizes.

schacht hand carders used for preparing fibre for spinning
Schacht Hand Carders

How to Use Hand Carders:

Ashford video demonstrating the use of handcards.

2. Flick Carder

A flick carder is a tool used to tease and separate fibres in preparation for spinning. It can also be used for cleaning the drum carder. Flick carders are commonly have 72 TPI cloth making them ideal in the initial stages of fibre preparation.

Schacht Flick Carder used for preparing fibre for spinning
Schacht Flick Carder

3. Drum Carder

A drum carder allows you to make large batts, easily prepare your fibres, and blend colours. It works by feeding fibre into the drum carder. Once carding is finished, the fibre is then removed from the carder using a doffer, which is a long metal tool that separates the fibres. With a drum carder, the intake is controlled and the carding will produce a smooth and even batt ready for blending, spinning, or felting.

Do I Need a Drum Carder Instead of a Hand Carder?

If you are going to be working with large amounts of fibre, then a drum carder will make the process easier and quicker. Drum carders, which come in a wide variety of sizes and TPI options, will allow you to easily and quickly create your own colour blends, produce rolags with gradient colours, or prepare large batts for felting.

Ashford Fine Drum Carder - Thread Collective Australia
Ashford Drum Carder

How to Blend Colours on the Drum Carder:

A demonstration of how to use a drum carder.

Faster Carding with the e-Carder

An electronic version of the drum carder, the e-Carder is equipped with gear-driven motors to speed up the carding process. Ashford offers an electronic drum carder with a 30cm carding width and a carding capacity of up to 135 grams. If you’re working with larger batches of fibre, the e-Carder might be the best option for you.

Ashford e-Carder - Thread Collective Australia
Ashford e-Carder

5. Blending Board

A blending board lets you easily blend fibres of different colours to create rolags for spinning. What makes it different from other carding tools is that it gives you the creative freedom to “paint” with fibre. You can combine any colour you want and create multi-coloured rolags that you can then use for spinning or needle felting.

Ashford Blending Board used for preparing fibre for spinning
Ashford Blending Board

How to Use a Blending Board:

A video demonstration of how to use a blending board.

6. Carding Combs

Carding combs are used to straighten small batches of fibre in order to prepare them for spinning. It is ideal for combing fine and delicate fibres. Fibres can be turned into a sliver and spun directly from the carding combs. The Louet Mini Carding Combscome in single-row and double-row options.

Louet Mini Combs - Thread Collective Australia
Louet Mini Carding Combs

Buy Carding and Fibre Preparation Tools Online

Thread Collective offers a collection of carding and fibre preparation tools and equipment to help you prepare fibre for spinning. From hand cards and drum carders to blending boards, we have a broad range of tools and equipment to get you started. Choose from brands like Ashford, Louet, and Schacht for your fibre preparation needs.