Learning to Drum Card, Day One

Like I promised last Thursday, I spent some quality time with my drum carder this week, and I’m actually pretty happy with my results. I managed to make two batts that look fluffy and spinnable, and way substantially more than 1 oz.

To recap, this is what I started with
one of my first batts top
A flimsy 1 oz. batt out of mixed materials. This one is a bit of corriedale, a bit of alpaca, silk, and firestar. I was convince I had my drum carder full, only to learn after unloading it, that I had a puny, not very fluffy batt that wouldn’t be very pleasant to spin from.

Getting ready to card
To get started, I got set up with supplies, water, coffee, music, and adjusted my drum carder. It wasn’t too far off after months and months of neglect, but I’m glad I took the time to do it. In the picture you can see two unrolled puny batts. The yellow one, and another blue one that looked very much like the yellow. It’s mostly alpaca with some silk and wool thrown in for good measure, and weighed just a stitch more than yellow batt. My goal was to card them together.

After reading many blogs and watching an untold amount of youtube videos, I experimented a little bit with how I fed the the fiber.

bluebatt
The blue was mostly pulled apart and fed in straight on, like so.

yellow batt
The yellow, I pulled out into locks and fed in sideways. (This picture is not representative of how I fed the locks onto the carder. I thinned them out a lot more.)

It took about an hour to do this first batt. I was purposefully going very slow, watching how my carder fed in, watching how the drum took up fiber from the licker-in, and so on.

Here’s the finished product
blueandgoldbattrollside
blueandgoldbattroll
blueandgoldbattstratta
blueandgoldbatt
This one came out at 78.5 grams, or just under 3 oz. My carder was pretty full by the end of it. And I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s fluffy, but still layered. It’s thick and textured, and will probably spin into a really fun tweedy singles.

On my desk, I had two small balls of merino top, one dyed, one undyed, that I have been wanting to blend together forever.

orangeandcreamtop
Each little ball was about 50 grams, so I figured if I used as much of each as I could, I would get a batt near 100g.

I carded these fibers very simply, just thinning out the top and feeding them straight on to the carder in layers. It went much faster, but I still ended up with about a 78g batt.
orangeandcreambattroll
orangeandcreambatt

I’m fairly satisfied with my morning’s work.

two good batts

I’ve learned to weigh out my fibers before hand, and to go slow. I’ve watched how my carder works as a machine a little bit better, and that I can make a spinnable blended batt. I think I still need some practice, and I am certainly not going to be going into production anytime soon, but it has been fun to spend a morning at it.

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