How to Hand Card Wool
What Is Carding Wool?
Carding wool, or any fiber, must be done in order to get the fiber ready for spinning into yarn. The clean fiber is carded either by machine or by hand into a manageable size. This allows the spinner to draw out the amount she needs as she is spinning without having to stop to pull out knots, briers, or tangles.Carding is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon or evening.
What Fibers Can Be Spun?
Many fibers can be carded and spun.
- Dog hair
- Sheep's wool
- Angora from either rabbit or goat
- Soy fibers
- Even dryer lint!
There are different methods for different fibers, and the plant fibers take specialized tools and processes. Most spinners will use mainly animal fibers.
Using Hand Cards
The first things you will need to card your fiber, besides the actual fiber, are hand cards. These are flat or slightly curved tools that look much like a dog brush. In fact, you can use dog brushes until you get access to cards. The cards should be marked for your right and left hand. When they are new it does not matter which is which but once you use them you need to take a pen and mark the handles, or somewhere where the markings can easily be seen.
Carding, Step By Step
- Start by laying one of the carders across your left knee, face up pulling the fiber through the teeth of the carder.
- With the other carder in your right hand, gently brush across the wool several times until the wool is evenly distributed on both cards and is starting to get fluffy.
- Pull the wool out from the right card and lay it on top of the wool on the left.
- Repeat the process of gently brushing across the wool, six times or so, until the fiber is very light and puffy.
- Put all of the wool on the left carder again and from the top edge roll it off the carding tool and into a soft, fluffy roll. This is called a rolag.
- Repeat the process with your wool until you have enough to spin.
Mixing Fibers & Colors
You can get some interesting effects by mixing fibers and/or colors as you card. Carding two types of fiber together will give you a completely different finished yarn than a single fiber. By mixing heavily crimped fiber and longer silkier fiber, for example, you can get a smooth yarn with "nubs" which is a very trendy combination.
Carding two or more colors together will give you a heathered effect if it is done subtly, or a more multi-color effect if bright, or contrasting colors are used. Depending on the ratio of color to color you can get variegated or marbled effects as well.
The more you experiment and practice the more intricate can be your combinations. Be sure to knit or crochet a small swatch after spinning to make sure it looks the way you want it to.
Where To Get Carders?
There are many places on the internet where you can buy new or used carders. If you have a spinners guild near you you might check with them to see if anyone has any to sell. Some knitting/spinning stores carry them as well. If you can find them locally it is best to get them that way as you can talk to the sales person and get advice, check them out and see what shape you like. Expect to pay at least 50.00 for a set.