Drum carding in the sunshine

Having refurbished my old drum carder I am using it a lot. It was made in the 1970s in a local town and I bought it second-hand many years ago as I am a sticker for textile equipment, but haven’t really used it.

It needed lots of TLC in the form of: four new rubber feet, stripping down, drum and licker-in off, old fibre removed from the cogs and a new drive band fitted – all followed by a good clean. There was, of course, loads of ancient, grubby fibre caught in the drum and licker-in.

At some point it has lost its feeder tray, so I have made a new one out of thick card which seems to work OK until I can get a wooden one made. The clamps have never been with it, so I bought two new ones from the nice helpful people at Classic Carders who made them especially for me due to the depth I needed. Unfortunately, as my carder is one-of-a-kind, and I had overlooked its other idiosyncracy, the top arm was too long, so it protruded into the spikes of the drum, preventing it from revolving. Luckily my handy husband was able to cut it to fit and it’s fine now.

As there is no compacting brush on the drum I have acquired an 8″ decorating brush which does the job well. The beauty of this is you can use it above the licker-in or at the rear of the drum depending on what you want to achieve. The final tools I’ve added are a rubber door wedge to hold the drum still whilst I remove the batt, and two thin, odd knitting needles, (there always plenty of those in my house). Of these one is metal, for doffing the batt and the other is wooden. I sharpened this one in a pencil sharpener and sanded it to a point, and it’s perfect for picking fibres out of the teeth of the drum and my hand carders.

I use a home made heckle and dog combs to pick the fibre before carding, but my lovely husband has just offered to buy me a pendulum picker for an anniversary present. I did remember to demure and ask ‘are to sure?’ before quickly pressing ‘submit’ on the order form!

It won’t arrive for a week or so, and I am already excited.

Meanwhile I have been carding in the garden, it’s so much easier than indoors as I put the debris straight in the compost bin and any odd fluff gets left. Shame we have so few windless days to do this.

All set up and going. Here I am testing the process with an old Jacobs fleece.

Doffing the fibre batt with my trusty metal knitting needle.

Taking the batt off on a dowel

In this session I made large batts and split them into roving later on. Other times I take it off as several rolags, getting between 6-8 per batt, depending on thickness of the batt.