Six Steps to Hand Carding Wool

Learning how to use hand carders can expand the types of yarn you can spin by giving you more control over the fiber preparation.

October 2014
By Brenda Gibson

The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn

Whether you are an experienced crafter chasing the perfect yarn or a beginner looking for an outlet for your creative talents, The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012) by Brenda Gibson will inspire you to get spinning. Beginners can learn basic techniques, from preparing and dyeing fiber to drop spindle spinning and wheel spinning, while more advanced spinners can explore recipes for a range of textured and colorful yarns.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn.

Carding more thoroughly opens up the fibers and frees them of tangles and debris than teasing alone.

Carding may also be used as a blending process for different fibers or colors, and the end preparation will tend to contain some variety of fiber length (consequently, a different preparation is used for worsted spinning). Carding may be done using a pair of hand carders or using a drum carder (visit the link below to learn how to use a drum carder).

How to Use Hand Carders

Carding wool by hand involve removing tangles from the fiber and creating and evenly prepared sheet of fiber known as a batt.

Hand carding wool 1. Rest the carder flat on your lap with the teeth facing upward and the handle facing toward your left side. Notice that the teeth are hooked. Lay a small amount of fiber across the carder, pulling gently against the teeth. Do not overload the carder.
Hand carding wool 2. With the filled carder still resting in your lap, grip the handle of the filled carder and hold the empty carder, teeth downward, in your right hand.
Hand carding wool 3. Begin stroking the right carder gently across the left, starting at the free edge where the fiber protrudes and gradually working across. You are aiming to enable the fiber to be brushed out smoothly without embedding the two sets of teeth together. After several strokes, a lot of the fiber will have transferred to the right carder.
Hand carding wool 4. Transfer the fiber on the right carder onto the left carder. Turn the right carder so that the handle is upward and the teeth face left. Hook the fiber onto the left carder starting at the handle edge and, with a sweeping action, release the fiber from the right. Repeat Steps 3-4.
Hand carding wool 5. Now transfer any fiber remaining on the left carder to the right carder in a similar way and repeat Steps 3 and 4 again. Continue to repeat these steps until the fiber is sufficiently uniform for your purpose, and pick out any reluctant tangles and foreign matter by hand as you do so. Finish with all of the fiber transferred back onto the left carder.
Hand carding wool 6. Flip over the right carder and use its tines to lift the carded layer of fiber (known as a batt) free. Turn the left carder over and lay the batt flat onto the back ready to make a rolag for woolen spinning.

More from The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn:

Drop Spindle Spinning Made Easy
How to Use a Drum Carder in Three Steps


From The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn: Techniques, Projects and Recipes © 2012 by Brenda Gibson. Reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. Buy this book from our store: The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn.

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