In this article, we will look at our carding products and their purpose and match them to your projects and fibre.
Hand Carders are wonderful portable options for hand carding and come with either a 72ppsi or 108ppsi carding cloth. They are handy when processing smaller batches of fibre at a time and making loose rolags for woolen style spinning.
The Flick Carder is designed for opening up tips on fleece staples. It’s a great little tool when processing small batches of raw fleece at a time that you want to spin in the grease for a worsted style yarn. It’s also handy for opening up tips on cleaned locks before feeding through a drum carder.
Drum Carders are the workhorses of the carding world, they allow you to blend and card fibre quicker and in larger quantities than hand carding. You can make Batts and Roving using a drum carder.
Blending Boards are designed specifically for creating repeatable blends, tight rolags and multi-directional panels for felting. It is not really a carder but it does hold fibres in place and helps to straighten them out when drafting off your rolags.
Once you have an idea of the tool you might want to use, you need to select a ppsi. What is ppsi I hear you ask? It’s the measurement that refers to the number of Points Per Square Inch of the carding cloth on your tool. The points are those stainless steel bristles sticking up out of the red rubber backing of the cloth. Sometimes these points are also referred to ‘Tines’ or ‘Teeth’ and so you may come across the term ‘TPI’ when talking about carding cloth. So long as the measurement is Per Square Inch you can figure out what size you need no matter what you want to call the Points.
Note that often, Ashford abbreviates this ppsi acronym down when describing Carder Cloth to just 'points' or sometimes 'ppi'. So, you might look at our Drum Carders and see that it has either a 72 point cloth or a 120 point cloth. Hand carders have either a 72 psi cloth or 108 psi cloth.
Now we know what ppsi, how does it help us? Well, that depends on your fibre.
For very fine fibres such as low micron Merino, Cashmere and Angora which are 19 micron or less, you need a carding cloth with more points per inch. So a 120 point cloth would be best because points spread further apart just wouldn’t get in between those very fine fibres to open them up and cause clumping or ‘neps’ in your batt.
For higher micron fibres such as Corriedale a 72 point cloth is great with just the right spacing for good blending as they would clump up on the finer cloth.
While there are other Carding Cloth sized in the world Ashford only currently uses 3 on their products; 120 point, 108 point and 72 point. Here is a table of Ashford carding tools and the common fibres Ashford recommends for each cloth size:
Hand Carders are a great place to start if you are unsure, you can try the different ppsi cloths with your different fibres. You get to see what works best before investing in a drum carder for faster carding of larger quantities.
If you spin in the grease you may just want a flick carder to open up your tips.
If you’re a multi-crafter like many of us are, you might be best with a 72ppi Drum Carder as it can handle the widest variety of fibres. Then if you have finer luxury fibres that just won’t go through your 72ppsi smoothly you can look at investing in a 108ppsi Hand Carder Set or 108ppsi Drum Carder depending on how much superfine fibre you need to process.
Other reasons to have multiple carding tools is if you are carding for anyone with allergies or who can’t use certain fibres. Some people are allergic to lanolin or are sensitive to the 'scratchiness' of sheep wool and can only wear alpaca and angora etc. While others may not appreciate animal fibres sneaking into a plant fibre batt for example; vegan customers.
We hope that this has helped you discover what type of carding tool you need or even given you the confidence to try something new. Remember that not one ppsi will work perfectly for every fibre but, for the most part, a pair ranging from 72-108 ppsi will work on most wool to get you started.
FAQ's on Carding - we receive some great questions on carding and have put them in one place for you HERE.
Please also remember that Ashford DO NOT RECOMMEND you card greasy fleece on your drum carder, they are an ‘investment level’ piece of equipment. It is best to stick to dedicated Hand Carders or a Flicker if you want to process raw fleece.
If you want to know how to clean a raw fleece before carding check out our How to wash a raw fleece blog HERE.
For more information on carding techniques, we highly recommend the Ashford Book of Carding which shows you how to use each carding option and how to blend fibres together for wonderful effects. This book is available on our website HERE.
We hope this article has made it super easy for you to select the right carding equipment for your needs.
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Hand made tastes best, using the finest ingredients we have a few sugar free treats to inspire you this Easter. xx Aunt Jenny
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