Part 2: Equipment and Fibers

Section A: Fiber-Preparation Tools

Hand cards

To prepare for carding, place the fiber on one of the cards by dragging a handful across the face of the card. The fiber catches in the teeth and hangs over the front edge. Some people also place locks of wool across the face of the card and lightly press it into the teeth. The important thing to remember is to not card too much fiber at one time. Use the right set of cards for the right purpose: fewer heavy wires for strong fiber and more, thinner wires for fine fiber (image 1.) Use cotton cards for fine, short fibers (image 2.)

Brush the fiber on the full card with the empty card, starting from the outside edge and working towards the handle. To distribute fiber on both cards, move them parallel to each other. With this technique, the teeth of the cards should not touch. To pull fiber from one card to the other, use a rocking motion to catch it in the teeth of the moving card. The front edge of the moving card is pressed into the stationary card and the card rotated to transfer the fiber. The teeth of the two cards are never forcibly drawn against each other. The parallel motion is easier with flat cards and is good for opening up the fiber. The rocking motion is easier with curved cards and is good for forming a cohesive batt. Spinners commonly use one or the other and occasionally both.

It generally takes multiple passes to open the fiber and make it ready to spin. Strip the fiber from the full card by reversing direction and drawing one card over the other with the handles in the same direction. The bend in the wires causes the fiber to be removed from the full card. Fiber is stripped and moved from one card to the other every few strokes, or when it becomes embedded in the wires. Some people exchange cards between hands for each pass, while others do not.

When the fiber is sufficiently opened, remove it by stripping with the other card. The prepared fiber can be directly spun or rolled across the narrow dimension into a rolag. When you are finished carding, or when changing fibers, clean the cards. This is particularly important when switching from dark to light fibers. Strip the fiber from each card. Any remaining fiber can be removed with a small, stiff brush.


Maximum 12 points

Examiner 1: 12
Examiner 2: 12

All the items in this section received full points. They took quite a while to write because I attempted to address all the various opinions of how these tools are "supposed" to be used. And not everyone agrees. The instruction to "briefly describe" meant I left out many things I would otherwise like to say on the subject. This was particularly a problem with the distaff item, because the many types and techniques cannot be handled in any sort of general description.