A big purchase

A big purchase

After years of deliberation I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase a drum carder.  This year’s AGM of the International Feltmakers Association which took place in March put it back in my mind.  My friends in the Felting and Fibre Studio cemented my resolve as they gave me lots of excellent advice during one of our get togethers.

So, research completed, I purchased from the German company Wollknoll  principally because they offered the best value for money.  While I was on their site I made some other purchases too, including a felting tool, some pre-felt, locks and a few other items.  The parcel arrived quickly and it was so exciting to receive it.  In fact it was like Christmas day only better because I didn’t have to stop what I was doing to cook dinner!

The exciting opening revealing all the extra ‘stuff’ on top!

I bought the Ashford wide (12 inch)  drum.  I opted for this rather than the 8 inch drum because there was less than €50.00 difference in the overall price.  It was very easy to put together and the box will be stored in the attic as I am given to understand that second hand carding drums have a good resale value in Ireland.  But for the moment I am going to enjoy it.

Once I put it together, Enda and I set out for Ikea which is not far away.  Jan had recommended purchasing one of their trolley tables on wheels for it as it could be secured to the surface and it would become its permanent home.  I found a lovely one.  (Thanks Jan ).  Enda helped me make it up and now they are sitting in my workroom.

Et Voila! Here it is all set up in its new home 🙂

On Easter Monday I finally found time to try it out using scraps of wool.  I am so excited with the results of my first experiments.


One of my reasons for adding to my order was that the overall weight of the package was not going to increase the transport costs.  Therefore, what I generally would ignore (because postage costs of buying small items made the price prohibitive) suddenly became attractive (with the ‘free’ postage).

My other purchases included some prefelt to experiment with.  I only recently found out that the Wollknoll merino  prefelt is a lot softer than DHG Italy product.  I’m an not sure why this should be important – it may be more malleable.    It certainly feels softer. I shall report back in this regard.  The grey one to the left of the photo is DHG Italy and the other is from Wolknoll.


I also purchased a new felting tool.  I like the feel of this beauty as there are no sharp edges to possible tear the felt (I have other felting tools that are quite pointed and rough).  I hope to test this one out soon:

Then comes the two ‘down the rabbit hole’ purchases.  first up, warp thread and then a concoction called ‘Foto Transfer Potch’  which I will need to read up about before attempting.


These should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Do you have any hints and tips for a novice drum carder?  Any assistance will be most welcome!

Latest experiments:

 Over the past few months I have been experimenting with felting on a ball.  This is just a personal challenge.  I wanted to see if I could make some pieces with different finishes which would be felted on the outside of the structure (the videos I have seen place the design against the ball then turn the piece inside out so that the design shows).  I am sure there are videos that show how to do this the other way around (where the design is already on the outside and there is no turning involved)but I have not been able to find them.  Here are the four I have made so far:

First Shibori and Ripples:


Next: Fantasy flower:


Here’s Geode Ball:


Finally, here’s Disco Ball using recycled coffee pods (my least favourite).  I used four different colour pods on this particular one.  You can see the different colours in the photo inset.  I did not like the colour of one of the sets of pods so I decided to use nail varnish to paint over it. Two coats.  It adhered very well.


I used a small yoga ball for my base.  It was handy as it could be inflated/deflated and it cost a fraction of what I would have paid for a felting ball.

Have you ever tried this method of felting on a ball? I would love to hear how you found it and see your pieces.

Happy creating!

24 thoughts on “A big purchase

    1. Thanks a million Breda, it certainly keeps me out of (some) mischief! Helene x

  1. That’s a good looking carder you have there.
    Thank you (and Jan) for the idea of putting the drum carder on a trolley. I wish I’d thought of that a few years ago. Mine sits on the window sill, covered up to avoid sun damage, and it’s such a phaff to get it down and set it up that it’s rarely used. That will change now.
    Looking at your grey and cerise(?) prefelts, you can see the needle tracks on the latter so I suspect that they’ve each been made on a different type of machine. The cerise one definitely looks more luscious!
    I have, once and a good few years ago now, made felt on a football, the sort with small pimples on the surface. I can remember that the pimples helped the wool to “stick” to the ball. I found fulling quite easy, once the fibres had skinned over, because I could bounce the ball. Of course it was necessary to cut the felt to get the ball out so I ended up with a bowl/basket with a handle and two odd bits. I’ve never tried it since, but seeing yours, especially the first one, I’m becoming inspired to have another go, perhaps with a newly carded batt or two?

    1. Thanks Ann, totally enthralled by my new toy I mean machine. Jan’s suggestion was just the best as it now has a home. Here’s a link to the one I purchased. The details will, no doubt be the same but of course the price will differ. https://www.ikea.com/ie/en/p/bekvaem-kitchen-trolley-birch-30240348/ We are fortunate as we have an IKEA close by so I was really excited to be able to drop in on the day the carder arrived.

      An excellent call on the two industrial prefelts – the cerise one is a lot softer. I have to admit that I prefer it to the DHG ones. I think I have enough in my stock now to last me a long long time.

      I agree, working on the ball is fun. One of the benefits of the yoga ball is that it reduces down sufficiently to fit through a really small hole. Also, I put washing up liquid on it before I start laying out the fibre. I find this helps a bit.

      Looking forward to seeing your result, if you get time to work on it.
      Helene x

  2. I’m so excited over your new drum carder, Hélène! (Also very envious of the easy with which you get to buy things from mainland Europe… but that’s another story)

    Tips: get a soft brush to pack the fibres in the drum to get a bigger batt. I promise the drum takes more than you might think! Simply run the brush through the drum as you crank the handle and it should help pack the fibres in.
    Also: get a really long needle, or a porcupine quill to remove the leftover fibres from the drum 🙂

    Have lots of FUN!

    1. Super tips Leonor, many thanks.

      A quick question, when you say a soft brush, do you mean one I might use on the dog or is there a different kind? I may have to do a trip to the zoo and see if I can find a willing porcupine.

      Helene x

    2. No, I mean an actual soft bristle brush. A lot of people (me included) might use a dog/cat brush, but that can damage the carder’s teeth. If you’re on the next Zoom I can show you mine 🙂

      Good luck on the porcupine quill hunt! 😀

    3. Thanks Leonor,
      I am having cataract surgery on Friday so may not make Sunday (I’ve no idea what to expect). If I don’t manage I will certainly catch you again.

  3. Love your drumcarder, Helene! I just showed Brian the sturdy wood table you purchased too. Mine moves from the kitchen table from my dining room sideboard…which is a pain. I recently thought about getting its own, moveable table, but yours is perfect.

    I’m wish I had you all nearby. I want to try your Shibori technique, and Karen’s ruffled neck scarves…and a bunch more techniques. I will tell you the brushes I find most useful with my drum carder: packing brush, burnishing brush (packs down further) and a flicker brush. Last and really good to have, is something that looks like a dental tool, to pick out pesky fibers…Brian said it’s called a “precision pick/hook” sold as a set. Mechanics use them to pick unwanted things.

    Enjoy…I’m off to IKEA!

    1. Thanks for those fantastic tips Capi. I just googled the ‘precision pick/hook’ and my teeth began to chatter with thoughts of my dental visits (I have an absolute joy of a dentist but it makes no difference I’m still afraid). Judging by their shape, they would certainly do the job so I will have to set my fears aside.

      Here’s the link to the table details. https://www.ikea.com/ie/en/p/bekvaem-kitchen-trolley-birch-30240348/ I suspect that the name will be the same globally but it is very handy. I got some boxes to hold ‘stuff’ which fit underneath. Just worth noting that their wire baskets don’t fit on the shelves. This might save you dragging the baskets around the shop (as I did) to check them in the sample trolley.

      I wish you were all closer too. I think we all need to organise a road trip lol!
      Helene x

  4. Congrats on your new drum carder. I think you will really enjoy it and Jan’s idea for the table is a great idea. I guess if I had room in my studio for another table, I would consider it. But my space is already so limited. I look forward to seeing more of your batts! Leonor already gave the best tip about packing in the fiber with a brush. Have fun!

    I tried felting on a ball early on in my felting journey and it was a disaster. But that was probably because I had little experience and the ball was really large and didn’t deflate. Your trials/experiments look much more successful!

    1. Thanks Ruth. The joy of that little trolley is that it is on two wheels. I have it sitting in front of my book case and I pull it into the middle of the floor if I want to use it.

      I really enjoyed bringing those scraps of fibre back to life in the drum. It was like magic. I will do some more soon and will be sure to pack more fibre on. I am a bit like the learner driver at the moment – not going over 30MPH.

      It was good to work on the small ball – it was very neat when it deflated and it fit through a really small hole, just measured it and it’s less than one and a half inches in diameter.
      Helene x

  5. If only we had room for our carders on their own trolley – fab idea! We have to move ours each time and it would be so much better to have it already set up.
    What a wonderful box to unpack – like Christmas and birthday all together 🙂
    Your felting over the yoga ball gives great results – shirbori and ripples is amazing!

  6. Thanks so much Lyn and Annie,
    It’s a nifty little table on two wheels so I can pull it around the room when I want to use it. It’s sitting happily in front of the book case.

    I kept putting off the grand opening of the parcel I was getting such a kick out of the anticipation (even though I knew the contents haha). It was indeed like the birthday and Christmas all in one.

    Glad you like the shibori and ripples – possibly one of the more challenging to achieve – I do love how it turned out – I am just a bit sorry I didn’t use colour on it.
    Helene x

  7. Congratulations on the new drum carder and its trolley. The bats look great. my hints are feed it slowly and don’t worry about fibre buildup on the in-feed drum. I dislike laying out fibre on a ball. Part of it is the working inside out but also getting it covered with all the other fibre evenly is hard too. I would much rather do it on a flat resist and blow a ball up in it when it’s at the soft felt stage. Blow up beach balls from the dollar store/pound land work great and come in lots of sizes. Your pots seem to have turned out really well.
    I almost forgot to say your new tool looks great. I hope you show us how you use it.

    1. Thanks Ann,
      I’m finding the drum carding very relaxing so far. To be honest, all I have used are the leftovers from tops, many of which were partially felted they were that old!

      I have never actually achieved a proper spherical shape when I have felted on a flat resist. Having said that, I would normally blow up a balloon when it reaches that stage so it’s understandable. I am finding that the pattern is more controllable when it is worked on the outside of the felt (rather than inside out). But it also takes a lot more time to achieve these results. I tend to come back to it the following day as there’s no deadline on these experiments.

      I will report back on the tool when I finally get around to trying it out. I suspect that I could replace it with a kitchen tool as it was an impulse buy. I liked the fact that the ripples are quite smooth and it has a handle so I hope it might be easier on the wrists.
      Helene x

  8. Congrats on your purchase Hélène! I’m so jealous of your little trolley but unfortunately I don’t have space for it in my room. I totally agree about the brush to pack down your fibre when carding. I ordered one with the carder I bought at Christmas and it really does make a difference.
    I must admit, felting on to a ball, as a technique, has never appealed to me but I absolutely love what you’ve done with the Shibori and ruffles.
    Best wishes for a speedy recovery after the op!

    1. Thanks Karen,
      I’m looking at the carder and there’s a packer brush attached to the top of the drum. I will play with that and see if I can adjust it.
      Yeah I sort of started that felting on a ball out of boredom. (Then I started working out in the gym and it’s a lot more productive lol!!)
      Thanks a million for your kind words, I have a phobia about all things medical (despite being married to a doctor – a bit of irony there I think). This time tomorrow I will be acting like a two legged pirate demanding my pieces of eight (ok I’ll settle for After Eights)
      H x

    2. I’m sure you will be absolutely fine but stock up on the chocolate anyway…it will be nice to celebrate with afterwards!

  9. I know exactly the trolley/table that you have because I had one for years!! So useful, especially just having 2 wheels. Such a useful piece of furniture in any kitchen or craft/sewing room.
    I love your work Helene, especially the shibori and ripples and fantasy flower.

    1. Thanks a million Marie, Yes I nearly love the dinky trolley as much as the carder! So neat!
      Thanks for your kind words on the felted balls, a bit of fun in a moment of ‘what if’ boredom.
      Helene x

  10. I hope you love your drum carder. I suggest adding a pair of long angled tweezers to your tool box so you can pull fiber out of the axle area. Another n
    ice tool is one of those hairbrush combs to clean stray bits of fiber off the drum.

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