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Handcardin' some wool

My carders, at rest. 

I've been really surprised, lately, at the difference carding makes in handspun. It's a step I didn't employ terribly often until recently, when I've been noticing that it really can be worth it. I love the look, and ease, of a dyed roving, but a batt is so much more textural, and can so easily be full of randomness. The pictures above show the basics of the handcarding process, as I tend to employ it.

Here's what I do:

1) Load the carder. In this case, I used merino, wool, sparkly angelina, mohair and lincoln locks.
2) Brush it all together (for an actual tutorial, try here).
3) Repeat until tired and/or out of fibers.
4) Admire the fluffiness--like you shaved a muppet.
5) Spin, by plucking up little bits of the batt at a time.

For now, I'm working with these combs, as shown (they're Ashford Student Handcarders, like these). Someday, when $500+ dollars appears magically to me (or I learn to save it), I will get one of these:

Ashford Drum Carder

When I attended an awesome two day spinning workshop a few months ago (Camp Pluckyfluff!), I was blown away by how great a drum carder can be--in SAT analogy style, a drop spindle is to a spinning wheel as handcarders are to drum carders. As in making the upgrade to a spinning wheel, though, patience is gonna be key.

For now, I'm happy with the results I can get handcarding--it would just be nice to increase the efficiency of the operation.
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