Tag Archives: Drum Carder

Batts and attempts at long-draw

I have been at the drum carder again…  Last week I read this blog post by Vampy which describes how to create batts with colour shading (basically layer the colours, split the layered batt into strips, fluff the fibre strips out sideways and feed them through again).  The photos showed lots of sparkle being added – how could I resist 🙂 ?

This was my attempt number one:

It worked, but I think the fibres were a bit too close in colour to show the colour changes clearly.   I used three different colours, pale blue, teal and green but it looks more like two colours.  I tore the finished batt into about 5 strips and spun them in order, then navajo plied them so the yarn would fade from dark to light:

Now, it’s not perfect, but could you just note that most of the yarn is pretty smooth and even.  I’m currently knitting it into some iPod cases using 1.5 mm needles and it’s looking fine.  I’d like to mention that now, because some of the later pictures are not so pretty…

I tried another batt, with a wider colour variation:

This colour combination seemed to come to me from nowhere.  Whilst congratulating myself on my amazing creativity, I realised it wasn’t my creation at all!  I had been looking at artwork online by Lorrie Whittington, a local artist, who has used this pallette of blues and purples in some of her work and it had obviously imprinted itself on my mind!   Do go and take a look at her work, it is swirly and whirly and beautiful!

This time, I split the batt into a dozen or so strips to try and get a more gradual change in colours:

Again, I spun singles.  Then, half way through the bobbin something in my head said ‘try long-draw’…  I’ve been meaning to, having watched Ruth at the spinning group whizz through yarn effortlessly.  The sensible thing would have been to try it out on some fibre that was hanging around waiting to be spun, something ordinary or in a colour I didn’t like particularly – goodness knows that there’s plenty around!  But no, something took over and I started playing around half way through using the batt I had so carefully laboured over. 

I could not quite bring myself to remove my left hand from pinching the yarn and stopping the twist, but my right hand was happily moving backwards with the fibre stretching out in a trail as my hand went back.  I even managed to get rid of my vice-like grip on the fibre, remembering what I had been told at the Weald and Downland when I tried the Great Wheel – ‘imagine it is a butterfly in your hand, you don’t want to crush it’.  So, my attempt was probably nothing like long-draw at all.  I’d call it coward’s long-draw at best!

This was the result – a small skein of yarn which starts off purple and even and smooth and then deteriorates into lumpy bumpyness as it turns blue.  It didn’t help that I plied it whilst my daughter was watching Mary Poppins – there’s something about Dick van Dyke doing a Cockney accent that reduces me to tears of laughter…

I’m pleased I had a go, but it served as a reminder as to how much there still is to learn about fibre and spinning.



Maybe I am too keen on my drum carder, I seem to have fluffy fibre batts everywhere..

My New Drum Carder

I’ve been saving  for a few months now, waiting to get a drum carder.  The time finally came and a decision had to be made…  I compared several carders in my price range, including the Ashford carders, particularly the Wild Carder which appealed to me because it was a compact design.  However, I eventually plumped for a Minty carder, 72 ppsi with extra-deep sides and a packer brush (http://mintyspinningsupplies.com/page3.htm).  A couple of factors swung it for the Minty – the deep sides mean you can put the carder on the floor or a table and there is room to turn the handle without it crashing into the surface and crushing your fingers, and it’s good to support a local craft supplier instead of the big guys for a change.

It arrived by courier a couple of days after ordering, well-wrapped and the only construction needed was adding the handle.  Since then, nothing has been safe from the carder – the dog is looking nervous again, after having escaped from the purple dye earlier in the year!  I seem to have an addiction to angelina sparkle and have added it to two of the three batts I have made so far.


I’ve thrown merino, shetland, angelina, washed/dyed fleece and silk into the mix so far and it’s going fine.  Putting the fibre through twice helps and I’ve learned the hard way to be patient and only add a little at a time.  I’ve also discovered that there is a fine line between having a range of interesting colours and everything turning sludgey…