Any spinners out there? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I was wondering if there are any spinners out there and, if so, do you use a drum carder to process your wool? I have a Louet drum carder and have some questions about it. It seems to really build up a lot of wool on the smaller, front drum and when you try to feed your wool through again for a second carding, you lose half of your just carded wool on that front drum. I was wondering if this is normal. I clean off the front drum and will feed that back through, but don't dare to feed wool through a second time because I am going to lose it again. Should I just let the front drum fill up to its maximum capacity and not worry about it? Maybe then it wouldn't take so much of my wool, but it seems like such a waste of wool because when it gets really thick on that front drum, you have to cut it off and then you can't use it. Any advice would be most helpful. Thank you.

-- Tammy (, March 15, 2000


Tammy, I'm a spinner & although I use hand cards or have my wool carded for me I have used a drum carder. I don't know the manufacturer but I do know the problem you are having didn't happen on the one I used. That's not much help, except to let you know that it shouldn't be happening. Brenda

-- Brenda Reise (, March 15, 2000.


I have a drum carder and I occasionally have to adjust the distances between the two drums to get a better batt. Also I have learned not to put too much wool upfront as it kind of clogs things up as well. I add a little bit (maybe 6" wide and a medium handfull) and do it maybe 20 times until I get a lot on the big drum. I still have a lot on the small drum, but I don't worry about it too much. I use a dog grooming card to clean the little card when it gets nasty.

Is your wool clean? If you are doing this with grease wool, it will clog up more. Also have you picked or teased the wool first or are you carding with locks? Also how long is the staple? What kind of wool?

I often think I will switch over to having mine commercially carded, but I like to do my own blends of colors and stuff. It's a workout!

-- sheepish (, March 15, 2000.

I want to thank you all for your advice. I thought I would tell you what I found out when I called one of the Louet dealers. They said that the Louet drum carders are made differently from all other drum carders in that the teeth actually mesh together so that you can get a better combing job. You cannot adjust the distance between the teeth and you never have to oil the drum carder. They said that the front drum (the licker drum) will build up and that you should actually let it do so and that you won't have any trouble feeding your wool through for a second carding if the drum is full because it can't collect any more on the licker drum. They said that the only time you should clean it off is when you are changing colors. They also said that you can use the wool that you clean off the licker drum (if you don't cut it). It won't be quite as nice but, because the teeth are intermeshed, it is combed better than what you would find on some other drum carders. When I do clean off the licker drum, I plan to just use my hand cards to finish that little bit of wool off so that I can use it and not waste it.

I am carding Romney wool and will also be carding Rambouillet. I am getting one of each breed this summer. I spin on an Ashford Traditional and I really enjoy spinning.

-- Tammy (, March 15, 2000.

Romneys rule!

Wanna buy some sheep?

-- sheepish (, March 15, 2000.

My carder is a Clemes and Clemes and adjustable but I was wondering about the licker roll catching all the wool. If there is a "seam" where the carding cloth is attached, could you use a small screw driver in that seam to pull tiny sections loose then peel it off as you do with the batt itself, rather than cutting. Paula Simmons/ Patrick Greene sell a tool for just that purpose. If cutting is your only option, have you tried felting the pieces rather than tossing them. Wool makes a wonderful mulch too.

Also I wondered if you have more problem with the Romney or the Rambouillet building up on the licker. I like my carder for shorter fibers but longer staple wools are wonderful combed into rovings. I started with just a pair of dog combs from a pet shop, the kind with a handle at right angles to the teeth and still use them at demonstrations for safety's sake rather than "real" combs with their sharp points. The beauty of the combs is that short fibers are removed, most of the chaff is removed and you are left with the creme de la creme of your wool. With the Romney, rovings spin up into a worsted type yarn that really enhances the sheen. Good luck and isn't spinning great? I've met some of the nicest people through the craft. Marilyn

-- Marilyn (, March 15, 2000.

Tammy, I think you've got your questions answered but I thought I'd add that I use a small steel knitting needle ( about a size 6) to clean both my drum carder and the hand carders. It makes the removal of the batt much easier I think. I don't really call myself a "spinner" yet, but I give it a good try.

-- Peg (, March 15, 2000.

Hello again,

Thank you all for your advice. Yes, my wool is clean before I card it. You can read about my washing process in the other posting about spinning. I also do use a doffer pin to break the wool off of the drums. Both drums have a groove in which to do this with. I only cut the batt off of the licker drum when I didn't know what else to do about it, but I have learned patience by just taking it layer by layer and pulling it off with the doffer pin. My drum carder came with a doffer pin and the 'brush' to clean it off with. Yes, I do tease the wool out by hand before putting it through. Apparently, I was doing everything right, with the exception of cutting it off of the licker drum, but was just stressing over the buildup on the licker drum. But, apparently that is normal and I will no longer stress over this.

It doesn't seem to make any difference what type of fiber I use on the carder. The wool builds up on the licker drum in the same manner, as I have carded Romney and Alpaca. The carder did a wonderful job on both fibers. Thankfully, I had enough sense not to cut through the Alpaca fur on the licker drum. I broke it with the doffer pin and now have some more than I can use up.

Yes, I have had an opportunity to watch some friends use the combs. They are wonderful tools, but deadly looking things! They do a tremendous job and I may get myself a pair someday. However, there is no rush, as I can use my friends. I meet with a group of ladies at least once a month to spin. It is just an enjoyable thing.

Thank you all for your wonderful and prompt advice.

-- Tammy * (, March 16, 2000.

I got myself a new wheel (what a treat!) and I sealed the wood and got the thing assembled. NOW, damned if I can get the spinning right. My daughter and I have been making really horrible yarn for a couple of days. The wheel is an Ashford Traditional, and the fiber is clean, hand carded mohair. Here's the thing; it has too much twist. If I tighten the spool brake it is too hard to treadle, and if I feed it faster onto the spool, the yarn is inconsistent, falls apart in places, or the spool won't take it up fast enough anyway, and overtwists.

This is probably going to resolve with practice??? Or possibly I have adjusted the new wheel wrong? What's this sound like to you experienced spinners?

Thanks in advance --R

-- Rachel (, April 09, 2000.

I also have an Ashford Traditional, and while I enjoy it, it does have a problem with fine tuning the tension. I eased that a bit by taking the tension spring off, and attaching a small rubber hair tie, fastening the spring to it. This seems to give you a better measure of fine control on your adjustment. Good Luck!

-- Connie (, April 09, 2000.


I would not consider myself an experienced spinner, as I have only been spinning for about six months on my Ashford Traditional. I also have a great wheel that I have dabbled with over the last year. However, my Traditional is my wheel of choice and I, too, had some of the same problems you are describing when I first started. It won't take you long to figure it out if you just keep practicing. I don't have any trouble adjusting my brake and have not had to change from the spring to a rubber band, but I know of others who do do this. I have mine adjusted so that it pulls the yarn on gently - not so hard that it grabs it right out of my hand. If it grabs it right out of your hand, then you have the brake too tight and you should loosen it up some because you will probably find that you do not get enough twist because it won't be there long enough to twist. However, if it is grabbing it right out of your hand and you are not letting it and are holding onto it too long, then it would have a tendancy to overtwist. You certainly shouldn't have it adjusted so tight that it is hard to treadle. I actually measured how long my spring is with the tension on it, and the spring itself (not the rings that hold it on) is only 1/2 inch long. Of course, this may not be good for you, but it works great for me. And, you will find that as you fill a bobbin, you will have to adjust the tension on your brake.

Most spinners just starting out tend to overtwist their yarn. I found that if you hold onto the yard too long while you are spinning it and don't let it feed onto the bobbin, then it will overtwist, as I mentioned above. You must draft your yarn out with one hand and, with your other hand, glide your fingers along at a steady pace as the yarn twists. Let the twist catch up with your fingers, pinch, draft out some more with your other hand, and then glide your fingers down the fiber again. Just repeat this process. One thing you may be doing is treadling too fast. If you treadle too fast, you will have a hard time keeping up with the twist and, again, will probably overtwist your yarn. It is best to start out at a slower pace and get the feel of your wheel, the feel of the fiber and the routine of drafting, gliding your fingers down the fiber, pinching, and drafting again. Also, you want to make sure that you don't let the fiber twist beyond the fingers that are gliding down the already drafted fiber because then it will be very hard to draft it out and it won't be consistent at all. You must make sure that you don't let go with the fingers that are gliding down the fiber, as this is what stops the twist from going beyond and into the fiber that you are drafting out with the other hand.

Just keep will find that it gets easier every time. I did also find that the thinner I drafted out the fiber, the easier it was to get the hang of it. I don't know if any of this helped you or not, as it is kind of hard to explain it in cyberspace, but I hope so. Feel free to e-mail me directly if you have any other questions. I just love to spin and am spinning up some Romney right now and will be making some Christmas gifts over the summer.

Happy spinning,


-- Tammy* (, April 09, 2000.


This may not be any consolation, but I tried to learn on an Ashford Traditional, and it discouraged me so, that I quit. I finally got another wheel (different type of tension) and learned on it. I had the same problem as you are having, but you know, from what I have learned about you from your previous posts here, you will perservere and learn it! Plus become an expert!

I have an Ashford and now can spin on it (I do more bulky yarns on the Ashford) but it took me a while to get the hang of it for sure. I like spinning on my other one better, tho.

Had more lambs today...could use some sleep...hope this makes sense.

-- sheepish (, April 10, 2000.

Thanks for your answers. They have all been helpful, and you all sound like you were right there watching me make this curled up mess! Yes, I think I should draft thinner clumps of fiber, because occassionally the yarn snags on the spool hooks. Maybe I am expecting the pull to be grabbing it out of my hand, and not just gently pulling. I will fidget with small incremental changes in tension, and see if I can find a magical setting.

At last attempt, I did manage to get about a half of a bobbin full, so that's progress. I will have to learn on this wheel, because I won't be getting another one.

Thanks for all the help and encouragement. I keep telling myself that it's a new wheel, and I'm a new spinner, and this wheel and I will work it all out. (That is, if I don't end up burning it as firewood first)

-- Rachel (, April 10, 2000.

New spinner? That being the case I would recommend putting away the mohair, and get some good, medium grade wool to practice with. It's much easier to learn on.

-- Connie (, April 10, 2000.

Mohair is what I've got, and so mohair is what I am using. I have only one sheep, so I am saving his wool for when I know what I am doing. Then I will card it with mohair to get a mix. 100% mohair has poor memory, and will stretch out of shape if you use it to make hats and things. I tried all of your suggestions, (and thanks to Sheepish for what you said) and the news for today is: I can now produce poor quality yarn relatively quickly. I take this as a step in the right direction. It seems more consistent, and definitely less bulky. I am treadling slower, and the motions of drawing and pinching are more coordinated now. So, I see hope!

-- Rachel (, April 11, 2000.

You've all inspired me to try something new. I'm still a "wannabe" but am making plans. As a city dweller I can't have any real animals. But I love to sew and quilt. My idea is this - to use that yucky stuff you're describing from the licker drum as "stuffing" for potholders. Wool takes heat real good. And it shouldn't matter even if it's been cut off the drum since I can quilt it into place. Do you experts think this is a workable idea? If so, I'd like to buy some and try it out. Drop me a line, set a reasonable price, and let's see what we can work out.

-- Deborah (, April 11, 2000.

Hi Tammy,

-- Sandie (Baker) Thompson (, December 20, 2000.

Hi Tammy, I have been spinning only about 10 years now. I have a drum carder as well as hand cards for wool and cotton, and Viking combs as well. I must say that you will want to have a finer pitch drum for the Rambouillet than for the Romney. It has a much finer diameter and requires a more "gentle" handling than the Romney. I don't know what the finer pitch drum will run, but I venture to say that a pair of Viking combs would do much better especially if you like to spin from roving.


-- Sandie (Baker) Thompson (, December 20, 2000.


This will work out just fine, and wool is naturally resistent to combustion, so it has a tendency to smolder and put itself out rather than flame. It is naturally fire retardent. Also you can take this wool and felt it fairly easily which will be even better for that pot holder!

-- Sandie (Baker) Thompson (, December 20, 2000.

Oh, one more thing,

Tammy you give sage advice, I would also add that if you are having a hard time keeping your fiber amount consistent, you can try using a Diz to help control it. You can find natural ones at the beach, the shells, good thick ones, with a hole in it. The hole diameter determines the thickness of the yarn. Or you can carve one out of wood, or find a large button and drill a hole the size you prefer. Of course you can always buy a commercial one as well. Try for that. (Cheaper and more fun to make your own....)

You use it by threading the yarn through it with your "drafting triangle" (that's the area you are pinching and pulling) on the opposite side from the orifice (where the yarn goes into and onto the bobbin). Take it slowly at first, and you will get the hang of letting the fiber narrow down to the Diz diameter before feeding it into the orifice.

But, the most important thing in spinning is to relax! Those of you who have no avertion in so doing, should drink a large glass of wine while learning. So much is happening all at once, we naturally tense up and get very frustrated. Take it slow, relax, don't bite your tongue, and most of all remember to breathe!

-- Sandie (Baker) Thompson (, December 21, 2000.

Hi, I have been spinning German Angora for about 8 years. If I spin it right after removing it I don't have to card it, but who has the time to spin 12 oz or more in a day. So I have been using the metal curved dog brushes (lot of work). I am very interested in purchasing a Louet Drum Carder. Would you purchase a 4" or an 8" and why and would you use the one with fine teeth for Angora. I'm worried it may tear the hair. Betty at Spinakees!

-- Betty Stover (, March 05, 2001.

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