Monday, February 4, 2008

Alpaca Fiber Preparation - Drum Carding

When I look up from my carding, this is the view out my basement window. The view, a little music, creating lovely fiber. How perfect! Well, maybe some wine and chocolate.......
Here she is, friends, my Strauch carder. She does a perfect job with my alpaca fiber. The only thing that I can think of that I would like more is if that dang handle were motorized. That repetitive motion is hard on the old joints.

This is my view while carding and looking down. I fluff the fiber and put on the metal tray on the left. The brutally pokey cylinder (licker in) pulls the fiber in when I crank the red handle. The carded fiber is on the big cylinder to the right.
This is the stage that I was having all kinds of static problems. Well, and when trying to take the batt off. Friends on Ravelry and Etsy forums gave me all kinds of suggestions to control the flight of the fiber. What is working best for me right now is diluting Downy fabric softener in water and spritzing the raw fiber before I even start.
Even though the I have the brush ↓ attachment, I use an additional wide, cheap, bristley brush to pank the fiber down. My friend Carey uses a long wall paper brush.
Fiber coming off carder after one pass through.

After running a hook like tool that Strauch provided (some folks use a long knitting needle) along the little opening with no teeth (you can just sort of see it under the fiber) you can lift the fiber off in sort of a peel like movement. A little fiber will be left behind but I use a metal dog brush like tool to lift it out and add it to my roving piles.
I like to run the bat through again. I strip it lengthwise into about 4 strips and spread/fluff them a little and crank away. My carder can handle about 1.4 ounces before it tells me no more by leaving fiber on the licker in.
I'm very pleased that my Strauch is so kind to my alpaca and does not create little tuffs and noils. My first carder was the Louet Junior (the narrow one) and it was rather harsh and would break my fiber.

Two finished batts ready for spinning. I unfold the batt and strip it lengthwise for mini rovings that are ready to go. I have a custom spinning order for all of this fiber from a very loyal customer - Jessie who lives in Bearsville, New York. She makes beautiful jewelry from coins. Go visit her shop called MadeFromCoins.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lovely batts, and beautiful color as well!
Cheers from London-Wul,
(Heidi)
http://londonwul.blogspot.com

Alpaca Granny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Knitted Gems said...

I've never seen a drum carder before. That is quite a device! It looks like it makes your job much easier.

Ohiocrochetlady said...

That is truly amazing. It really makes me appreciate what you do.

island sweet said...

ohhh that looks like such a thrill! it must feel like magic making order of your fleece. thanks for showing us this.

kim said...

Maple, I love your detailed description of the alpaca carding process. I'm carding quite a bit right now and am very much a novice at it. Thanks for your help!
My alpaca is going off to the sides and getting into my moving parts. It even wrapped around my drive band! I have a Pat Green. I guess with the Strauch, there's a chain drain so no danger of that, is there?

kim said...

That is to say a chain drive...lol
With all the typing I do, I often go unconscious. Chain drain!!!

Merily said...

I've never even seen a drum carder before, so this was a very interesting read! :)

temptressyarn said...

Great article. I've always had trouble with alpaca and other light materials like silk on the (same) drum carder, despite the brush attachment. It helps keep the fibers down but doesn't really get them deep into the large drum to allow enough of a thick batt to develop. I'd love to see a pic of exactly what brush you're using.
Carrie

skiingweaver said...

This is fascinating! I've never seen one in action before... Great post!

ingermaaike said...

That looks so great, I would love to have one of those. To mix my wool for felting.

Anonymous said...

I'm carding some alpaca today and just read that i should be removing the guard hairs first. Is that necessary and if so, how? It will take forever to pick them out by hand.
thanks for any ideas.

cialis said...

Hi, well be sensible, well-all described

Map