I’ve been silent during the first few days of the tour but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working with fiber! While I was carding the Castlemilk Moorit fleece I suddenly remembered that not so long ago, I didn’t know how to use handcards. I remembered the searches on youtube and trying to find tutorials (because not all youtube videos have slow motion, and not all of them are that clear). I remembered struggling to make rolags without using my hands and failing miserably. After all, I didn’t (and outside of Ravelry still don’t) have any fiber friends. So it’s not like I could get up and ask somebody how it was done.
Also, I like to research things first before asking questions.. so it might just be me. Either way, I decided to make a carding tutorial for people who can’t find the information they’re looking for. This is a combination of what I found on the web and what works for me.
Here we go! Step 1:
Obviously the first step is to wash your fleece and allow it to dry. If you’re looking for a tutorial you can click here, here and here. This tutorial starts when your fleece is dry. I’m using a 100gr of Castlemilk Moorit, and here you see how I’ve separated the locks. You don’t have to do this per se, but it makes the carding process much easier. When all the fiber is (somewhat) aligned it won’t become a tangled mess.
Place the locks on the card. The tip (where the hair ends) should point away from the grip. It’s better to have too little fiber than too much fiber.
Carding fiber with handcards is like combing doll hair (or little girls’ hair). Always start with the tips and move up very slowly. If you choose not to do this, carding will become a lot less amusing (just like combing a little girls’ hair).
Keep in mind that you should try to use the whole card and not just the top part. As you already know the bottom card is held still while the top card is used to card the fleece. This is why it’s really important to pay attention because you don’t want to end up with your card looking like this.
Carding like this will be a lot harder than using the whole surface of the handcards because there’s too much fiber in one spot.
The picture above shows how to use the whole card. Because my hand cards are curved I need to compensate and move my arm up. Your cards may be different, but it’s still important to start from the bottom of the top card.
If you use the whole surface your top card will end up looking like this. When the fiber is spread evenly it’s much easier to make rolags (or to card another time). Please keep in mind that this is a very short staple fiber! If you use longer fibers they might still ‘stick out’, but that’s ok.
After a few passes you can make a rolag. When I wasn’t comfortable enough to make rolags with the cards I just rolled up the fleece once I was done. It’ll give you a rolag, but it won’t be as pretty or as even, it’s also a slower process. However, I would advise you to do whatever you’re comfortable with. No point frustrating yourself over something like this, you spin to relax, not to get frustrated!
It took me quite a while to notice the subtle difference on youtube videos. They were all so fast that I didn’t get it, so I’m going to explain this really slow.
You don’t have to do this, but I noticed it makes my work a whole lot easier: fold the fleece in like this.
Now hold your bottom card facing up (NOTE: this is very important!) The metal pins should face away from the top card like this:
Now you place the top card on the bottom card. Make sure that the cards are somewhat aligned because you don’t want to start carding this batch again 😛
Now move the top card downward and watch how the rolag is rolling up.
Remove top card from bottom card and pat yourself on the back.
That went well! So let me tell you what happens if you don’t hold your bottom card the right way. When you card the fleece will be transferred from the bottom card to the top card. I personally replace the cards and use the empty card as top card, and the filled card as the bottom card. However, I’ve also heard that there’s a very good reason why you should not be doing this.
If you hold your bottom card the way you normally do (and the pins piont toward the top card) you’ll transfer the whole batch to the bottom card like this:
It works the same way, you place the top card on the bottom card and move your top card downward.
I hope this tutorial is of any use to anyone. Let me know if it helped you or if you have anything to add!
These are the rolags that i made using the handcards only. I have a lot more, but not all of them turned out as pretty as these 🙁 Now I’m going to use the rest of the evening for spinning!