Using A Drum Carder

Recently on the Felting and Fiber Forum, Leonor was asking those of us who’d recently bought drum carders what we thought of them. I said I really liked mine from the Classic Carder company and didn’t tend to get fibre building up on the small drum, which seems to happen for some and I said I’d try and do some videos when I got chance. Yesterday I found time to do some videos. The first one took almost an hour to upload to youtube, so I have done some edited versions and I will try to upload the others when I have more time (it took 4 hours this morning). The first batt I made is using ‘texturey’ wools and fibres. They are mostly ones I have hand dyed myself, scoured wools like Bluefaced Leicester, Wensleydale and Falkland, carded Icelandic, some Alpaca, dyed Devon tops and some hand dyed silk tops and silk noil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the video, sorry the light isn’t brilliant.

This next video is showing commercial wool tops being carded, these go through a lot easier, and the end ‘batt’ is a lot neater and smoother, more like wide roving than a batt. You can use the drum carder to make your own blends from wool tops which are usually more expensive than single colours. Depending on how you put the wool through will depend how ‘stripey’ it is or how blended.

I like to make blended batts with some texture and some wool tops. This next video shows about half of the texture batt being blended with the wool tops batt, I think I added some soy tops, flax and ramie to this too.


I don’t often do this, but for demonstration purposes, I put the texture and tops batt from the previous video through again.

I used a shower curtain on the table while making these videos, I hoped the white would help lighten them a little, I don’t think it made much difference, but it does show up some of the dust that collects under the carder!


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16 Responses to Using A Drum Carder

  1. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Excellent videos Zed! It’s interesting the brush on yours is in the back. The ones I’ve seen here are between the two drums. I really like the carder. The other difference I noticed is you drafted out small pieces and fed them. The instructions I’ve seen is to do what you did in the later video, feed larger pieces. I’ll have try using smaller drafts and see if that helps keep the smaller drum from catching the fibers. Thanks!

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Marilyn 🙂
      In the first video, most of the fibres are commercially scoured wools that I then dyed, so they need a bit of teasing apart. Also, I’d rather take my time and not overload it and have to do it again, I don’t want to lose too much texture or lose definition if I want stripes.

  2. ruthlane says:

    Great job on the video Zed. My brush is on the top of the big drum. I always think the part that takes the most time is separating the fibers (especially ones that haven’t been carded before) to put through the carder. I have been thinking I need to make some nice mixed batts to play with and you’ve encouraged those thoughts even more 🙂

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Ruth 🙂
      Well, it was you borrowing that carder and the batts you sent me that made me really want one in the first place! Have fun if you make some 🙂

  3. Lyn says:

    Your drum carder is fab – I like the way the brush sits on the back of the machine and lifts off so easily. I’ve got an Ashford, without a brush, and it appears to be a fiddly operation to fit and remove one. (I’ve borrowed one of my husband’s wide paintbrushes for now but I have to hold it over the drum and it’s not wide enough so I’m constantly waggling it side to side.) I’m going to find out if the Classic one will fit an Ashford.

    Nice vids! Lot of patient work.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Lyn 🙂
      I hope it does fit for you, it really does make a difference. It’s a strange noise, but gives a nice finish!

  4. luvswool says:

    So glad you posted these videos. I had wondered at first why you were putting small bits in the machine and then realized you can only feed so much into the roller. Beautiful batts! It must be a real pleasure to create your own.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Cathy 🙂
      You can put more under, especially if you’re doing a more mixed blend or want to actually card the wool smooth, I’ve done that with some of my scoured Falkland to use like wool tops, it’s just easier to control with smaller amounts, you can guide it through your fingers to where you want it 🙂
      It is nice making exactly what you want.

  5. Great videos Zed. The problem most people have ( including impatient me) is they feed to much at once and seem to have mastered not doing that. Even with my big carder you have to feed it slowly or the batt isn’t as nice. I wish my small one had a brush. I liked the final batt you did. It looked smooth and even but still had texture in it.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Ann 🙂
      I do like being able to blend texture into the wool tops, so the felt has more texture rather than just using it as surface interest.

  6. Leonor says:

    Loved, loved the videos! Thanks so much for taking the time to make the videos, Zed! I was going to ask a few questions but reading other people’s comments (and your replies) I got most of them answered 🙂

    I will ask this, though: do you reckon the carder would take more fibre to make larger batts? I am mostly thinking of batts for spinning, and those tend to be larger…

    • Leonor says:

      Oh, and another question: would the drum carder help if you’ve accidentally felted the wool a little during the dyeing process?

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks Leonor 🙂
      Yeah, the carder makes quite large batts, about 50g or more I think. I did smallish ones to try not to take as long 🙂

      And, yep, it is brilliant for carding wool that has got a little bit felted from dyeing, and also for refreshing any old wool tops that have gotten a bit compressed and hard to separate by hand.

    • Leonor says:

      You’ve sold it to me! I am so going to get one soon 🙂 Thanks for all the trouble, Zed!

    • zedster66 says:

      You’re welcome 🙂
      I hope you have fun when you get one!

    • Leonor says:

      I’m sure I will 🙂

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