Spinning My Wheels

So I went to the Rhode Island Spinner’s Guild meeting last weekend and this happened:


Borrowed drum carder!

I’ve been curious about trying out drum carders for a while and the Guild has one its members can rent so this not-so-little-guy is living with me for the month. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a pretty busy month but I think I can find a bit of time to card up some odds and ends and see how I like the process. I’ve already used the drum carder on some of my Southdown fleece and I can see how it would be a big time-saver when processing a lot of fiber at once.


Carding Southdown wool.

In other spinning-related news, I started on the 6 oz of alpaca from Long Island Livestock Company that I want to spin as a birthday gift for my mom (one of my February goals). I had never spun alpaca before and all I have to say is: wow, I love it. I had heard that alpaca was difficult to spin, that its longer, smoother fibers gave people trouble, but I’ve experienced none of that.


Beautiful, chocolate brown alpaca.

That bobbin represents about 2 hours of spinning, during which I spun 1/3 of the fiber I have. Honestly, it felt almost effortless. All I did was fluff up the roving width-wise to get more air into the rather densely-combed fibers and poof! Instant yarn. I can’t wait to spin the rest of it.

What are your experiences with either using drum carders or spinning alpaca? Tips? Pros/cons?



11 thoughts on “Spinning My Wheels

  1. I did have trouble spinning alpaca — at first. You learn pretty quickly how it wants to be spun, and if you don’t listen, it won’t cooperate! What worked for me was putting more twist in than I thought I needed to. I probably overspun my first skein, but at least it didn’t fall apart every three inches, either.


    • I think I’m having such an easy time because I tend to put a lot of twist into my yarns to begin with, so alpaca seems to fit in with my normal spinning style pretty well. My first yarn ever was like rope, so overtwisted!


  2. I haven’t used a drum carder. I love spinning alpaca, so far only on a spindle, but will use the wheel next time. It is a bit slick, but that’s what makes it so lovely!!


  3. I’ve really wanted to try a drum carder, but I have yet to find someone who has one so I can watch. I will admit to looking into one for fun, but price aside, I don’t think I have room for one.

    How many carding methods have you tried out so far? Do you have a favorite?


    • I’d recommend looking for a spinner’s guild in your area, the one I’m in is so great about demonstrations and teaching different skills, everybody is super helpful and friendly.

      The drum carder is pretty big and bulky and probably better suited for dedicated studio space and not a random spot in the living room. I’ve only tried hand cards and the drum carder so far. They had blending boards and a blending hackle at the guild meeting I went to but I didn’t get a chance to use them. I like the look of the little punis that come off the blending board but I’m not sure it’s the best tool for really opening up the fibers, you mostly just brush them into place like paint. I’m very inexperienced with both the hand cards and the drum carder so I’m not sure which is my favorite. Drum carder definitely feels faster, but it is a bit of a pain to clean the leftover fibers off the drum and feels like it produces a lot of ‘waste’ fiber compared to the handcards.


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