Christmas Has Come Early!

As much as the hubs and I love celebrations, we decided some time ago not to buy each other gifts.  So, we don’t do presents.  We do something instead.  This way we have shared memories.  We may go out for a meal, or see a film, or go away somewhere.  If we give gifts, it is because we might need something.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive item, just something we happen to need at that time of the year.  I got bed socks one Christmas as I really needed some.  I was going to buy them for myself, but the hubs got me two pairs.  It was just what I needed and wanted.  🙂  When we went travelling around South America in 2013, we took everything we needed for 5 months and packed it in a 10kg back pack.  We wore the same clothes over and over. We needed to pack for 4 seasons. People don’t care what you wear as long as you are clean.  It is amazing what you can do without and humbling to see how other people live with so little.  When we came back from that trip we decided that we would have more experiences and less things.  I already live in a small house, so keeping things to a minimum wouldn’t be a hardship for me.  If we buy clothes, something has to go.  One thing out for one thing in.  We were doing really well with that until we developed our hobbies.  The hubs and I met on a scuba diving holiday, but we aren’t scuba diving anymore, so we will need to get rid of all of our diving equipment. It is hard to part with things that one has spent a lot of money on to help you survive in an environment so you could explore and see wonderful creatures.  We don’t dive because we have dogs and now we do other things instead.  So the stuff has to go.  We have a campervan and take the dogs with us on adventures.  The hubs also paraglides and I paint and felt.  We can also do those things on holiday!   I have everything I need for making felt.  I have always wanted a drum carder.  I like equipment.  I live in an area surrounded by sheep.  It is a natural thing to take a hobby to another level, but this time going to the source and working with fleece straight off the sheep was something for the future.  A drum carder would make the process a little bit easier.  I was prepared to wait, so I made a blending board instead, with the help of the hubs.

Downloads2-008The blending board is a thing of beauty and it was made for a fraction of the cost that you can buy one for.  If you are a felter and only using commercially prepared tops, the blending board is a wonderful tool as you can lay out superfine batts for your work.  Spinners also use blending boards for making lovely art yarns.  I am really happy with my blending board and because the cost of buying a drum carder in the UK is beyond my means for the time being, I put that idea on hold. 

Since Covid-19 made an appearance this year, work has been non-existent for me.  However, the roles have reversed and the hubs has been asked to do work instead.  So while he has been working, I take the dogs on walks and have had the time to do a lot of felting.  I also bought a spinning wheel that was going cheap near me.  I struggle with it and should probably spend more time practicing, especially as I have a lot of alpaca that needs spinning.  I was on one of the spinning groups on Facebook when I came across a post where someone very excitedly shared her new drum carder.  Very happy for her, and a bit envious too.  She got a very good deal on her carder, but as I read the comments, some of which were unkind, I decided to investigate further.  After I did my research, I spoke to the hubs and explained the situation and asked for his opinion (I don’t usually ask for his opinion on much, so this was big).  He told me he would buy the same drum carder for me as a present, since he was earning, and it was a good deal.  What a star!  I had to wait a few weeks, but it arrived yesterday and I had a bit of a play.

IMG_6808We got this drum carder from a supplier on Etsy.  I bought the 72 tpi version.  I have done a lot of research on drum carders since I made the blending board.  There are two manufacturers in the UK; Classic Carder and Wingham Wool Works.  If one was to do a cost comparison between the two, I would say that the best value would come from Wingham as you get more for your investment as it comes with most of the accessories you need and a good warranty.  With Classic Carder, you need to purchase all of the accessories separately and that jacks up the cost considerably.  It is also possible to make your own drum carder.  However, that wasn’t an option in this case.  As funds are limited, we decided to purchase from this Etsy supplier.  As much as I like to support home grown enterprises, I am also on a budget.  So, if UK businesses want my support, then they need to bring their prices down.  And this is what my response was to those unkind comments to the lady on Facebook because she dared to buy a carder from the Ukraine.  Considering the amount of money you need to pay for an Ashford product (they come from New Zealand), I felt it was important to point out a few home truths.  Imagine being so excited because you got a good deal on something you’ve always wanted and then being slammed because you didn’t do the right thing by your carbon footprint!  Some people have no manners and are so judgemental.

There are a few drum carder manufacturers around the world and each one is different.  However, the basic design is similar.  You need a base, two drums and a handle.  Is any one drum carder really better than another?  I think that is a matter of preference.  My drum carder came with an extra belt (which we paid for as that could be tricky to replace), a doffer, table clamps and a large secondary/cleaning brush.  I don’t need a packing brush as I can use a paint brush.  Even my dog brushes that I use for carders are more than adequate for cleaning or packing down the wool on the drum.  I don’t have a porcupine quill, but I use a thin bamboo skewer to pick up fiber.  Everything is nicely made and all I had to do was to install the handle and put on the table clamps and boom, I was ready to go.

I had some batt that my guild friend made for me from fiber I gifted her.  She made the batt on a jumbo Ashford Carder.

This was a huge batt.  As you can see, there is a lot of fiber in there.  I had purchased a Breed Discovery Pack from World of Wool and I gave my friend the Shetland, BFL, Jacob, Devon, Swaledale and Herdwick, basically everything but the merino.  She also added merino and alpaca along with some silk fibers and colored threads and curls.  Because my friend is a spinner, she made a batt for spinning.  I tried to have a go with it on the spindle.  I need more practice.  The batt is very lofty, but for some reason, the fibers in some sections are all over the place.  I decided that I would use this fiber batt and have a go at carding it on my new drum carder.  I watched videos on how to do this (no surprises there!).

IMG_6802Because I was going to try and use this for felting, I needed my batt to be more dense.  I gave it two passes on the drum carder.  You can see below the difference.IMG_6805There were a lot of short fibers in this batt and it took me some time to clean the carder and get them all out.  I watched several videos on how to do that also. 🙂   All in all, I am quite pleased with my new tool and the hubs is happy to see me happy.  Being an engineer, he is also very impressed with the design.  So, all in all, it does the job.  I’m looking forward to having a play and seeing what I can do with it!

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6 thoughts on “Christmas Has Come Early!

  1. Well I am excited for you. I don’t understand why people are so rude when they are making comments on others’ posts. Perhaps those spinners are spinning merino from South Africa on their wheels from New Zealand. I am glad you found this supplier and hope you enjoy playing with it. Re: spinning. At 9pm this evening BritSpin starts and this year there is a free treadlers team so you can join in without an official team or commitment. It runs until 9pm on Sunday. It could be a good opportunity for you to have some dedicated practice time on your spinning wheel, and play around with spinning the batts you make on your new carder. Search Ravelry for BritSpin in the groups and you can find more information or look for the BritSpin on the internet. Just a thought.

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    1. Thank you, I am excited also. I really do need to sit and practice on the wheel a little every day. Thank you also for the spinning info. I shall look into that. 🙂

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  2. Hello darling Arlene, Creating with yarn is one of my 1st loves also. I did my BA (hon)in constructed Textiles at Middlesex many years ago. What excited me was learning how to create surfaces from nothing. You have always been so creative with everything you touch. All my love Elizabeth xx

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    1. Oh, thank you sweetheart and so lovely to hear from you! I’ve sent you an email. I need to get on with practicing spinning! x

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  3. What a wonderful post! You’ve certainly touched on some things that are not right in the way we live today.

    Your blending board looks professionally made – well done you!

    Have fun with your carder – it’s a great tool for making variegated colour for felting.

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    1. Thank you! I am lucky that I don’t need or want for much these days, and that the hubs is a very handy person. If we had a workshop, I am sure he would have made me a drum carder! 🙂

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