Monday, January 21, 2013

Drum carding and yarn inspiration

Well, it has been a while I know.  Over the summer we moved from Iowa to the Kansas City area.  It has been nearly a year of transition from the time we found out that my husband got a promotion to now.  I commuted back to Iowa for work for a while, we lived in a hotel for 2 months, we bought a new house, moved, started new jobs, etc, etc.  So, I fell behind in blogging.  My crafting has been slower too until just recently.  But, I do have a backlog of projects to share and plan to get them up here in the near future.  I will kick off my return to the blog with a BIG post tonight.

For Chirstmas, I got a Brother motorized drum carder with 120 TPI carding cloth.  This is a machine used for preparing wool for spinning into yarn.  So, I was anxious to try it out and experiment with different techniques of blending color to see what the final yarn would end up like.  I started with color inspiration from

Then, I found natural wool colors and dyed some wool with food coloring to try to imitate each of the colors in inspiration picture.  Here is the natural wool I started with - white and black/grey.

I weighed out 3 1-ounce piles of white wool and dyed them light teal, dark teal and yellow.
1 ounce piles of wool before dyeing.

For the yellow I used 4 cups of water, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 30 drops yellow food coloring, 2 drops of green, and 2 drops of blue and simmered in my little crockpot dedicated to dyeing for about an hour.

For the light teal, I did the same thing but used 26 drops of blue food coloring and 10 drops of green.

For the dark teal I upped the vinegar to 3/4 cup and used 46 blue, 18 green, and 3 red drops of food coloring.  I might have let this one go longer too, but I don't remember for sure.

After they came out of the dye bath, they dried overnight - here is how they looked after dyeing and before carding.  The yellow looks way more yellow than it did in the crockpot.

Next, I used my new drum carder to make one white batt, one black batt, one grey batt, one light grey batt that was a mix of grey and white wool, and one batt from each of the dyed colors.

Here is the comparison of the inspiration picture colors to the carded batts:

I divided these into four pieces and tried 4 different techniques of carding/spinning to see how the yarn would differ.

For the first batt, I used a sandwich technique that I saw on this video from NeauveauFiberArts, but she learned it from PluckyFluff, who is the one who helped design my spinning wheel, the Aura from Majacraft.

The batt was fairly mixed in color, and you can see that in the final yarn.

For the second and third batts, I tried just putting the separate colors in stripes across the drum carder to keep them more separated.

In process of drum carding.

The batt before spinning.

The singles before plying.  I basically went up and down the batt, spinning most/all of one color before switching to the next.

The final double plied yarn.  Since I plied one skein onto itself, you an see that the dark teal is mostly always with black, the yellow with grey, white with light teal...etc, so not a ton of variation.

For the third batt, I prepared it the same way on the drum carder, but then pulled off horizontal strips so that it went back and forth across all of the colors several times for the singles.

This one was more mixed than the second skein, but not as muted as the first.

For the last batt, I did each color in a layer.



Side view of batt. 

The singles were much more mixed than the last two, but not as muted as the first.

Here is the double-ply.

Here are the 4 skeins from left to right: skein #1, skein #4, skein #3, skein #2.

I think they all capture the idea of the inspiration picture but it was interesting to see how the different methods produced different yarns.  I don't think the picture really captures the real differences as much as you can see them in real life.

A post with a final product from this yarn will follow.


  1. What beautiful colors and yarn! I'm so glad you are back to blogging. Yay!!

  2. Thank you, I LOVED this post!!! I also received a Brother Drum Carder for Christmas, but really haven't got to play with it much. I have gray fleece I'm working with, but haven't done anything with colors yet. I really liked how you told step by step what you did, how you dyed the fiber, how the batt looked, how you spun it, and even showed the finished yarn. As a spinner with a new drum carder this was very educational, and now I can't wait experiment. One thing I look forward to seeing is how your samples knit up. I think that's the true test of how a Handspun yarn looks. It looks so different knit up. I love seeing the stripes of color, how muted, or how vibrant the colors are, the length of the stripes, etc. LOL, I guess I just like everything about spinning! I find it all so interesting, especially when color is involved!

    1. Thanks! I was looking all over for before and after examples of batts and yarn to get ideas before I started using the drum carder but couldn't find much, so thought I would share my experience. I agree about seeing how it knits up. I just can't decide what to make yet. I did make one scarf, but it isn't knit, it is sewn together. I'll have to get pictures of that up while I am thinking of something to make!