Beth Smith

Handcarding – Speeding up

I showed some Tunis on Facebook  and Instagram a week or so ago that I had hand carded. I began with slightly over 2 pounds of scoured fleece and it took a little under 4 hours and I had just a tad under 2 pounds of hand carded rolags.

I had plenty of comments about how that was super fast and how some people thought they couldn’t get that much done in that short time. Well I thought a lot about it and here’s what I came up with.

First, hand carding takes a bit of practice. You need to find your most comfortable style. I took classes from several different teachers when I was learning to card and for the first little while I didn’t like carding. It hurt my wrists, it took a long time, my rolags looked like a rat’s nest, and so on. But I didn’t give up. As I kept trying I started to combine things from different insructors and found a way to hold the cards that worked for me and found a way to move the cards that worked for me and found a way to make a rolag that worked for me. And now I can spend two to three hours carding and nothing hurts and I get plenty done.

Here is a Youtube video about my carding method.

Second, I usually am carding raw fleece. I don’t do a lot of fiber blending but when I do, that takes more time. I also choose to card wool that is 4 inches or less. Longer than 4 inches and it’s more difficult and takes more time so I often comb that.

Third, many people do way more passes than I do. 2 to three passes on raw fleece is generally sufficient. Two is the goal. Once you get beyond three you add more chance of getting noils and neps and more lumpy bits. Carding is for opening the locks and aligning everything, and two passes gets that job done. Unless….

Fourth, many people overload their cards. If seems like if you put more wool on your cards you’ll get through it faster but it doesn’t work that way. More wool on the cards means more passes to get everything open. It also means messy rolags that are harder to spin.

Fifth, Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime  are great distractions and keep me moving when I’m working for a long time on a repetitive task:-) Yes, Netflix, I’m still watching!

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