In one of the rabbit-warrens of the internet I stumbled across this blog blurb by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) about sending fiber through your drum carder sideways. I immediately alerted Rachel, that this might be a thing. We had to put it to the test.
I started with a Corriedale batt that I’d already sent through the carder normally:
I split it in half and sent one half through again sideways:
This is the result. The sideways batt feels thicker and fluffier. I should also note that the fiber piled up in the middle of the drum instead of being spread out evenly.
As a different test, I sent an assortment of different staple lengths and fibers through. Longwool, and very crimpy short wool. I didn’t pick the crimpy short wool apart.
Here’s the resulting batt. Then I spun it all up.
Rachel here: Excuse me while I butt into Sal’s post. First of all can I just echo the WTFness of this sideways drumcarding development. Imagine me sort of open mouthed and wondering wha??? and ??? And thinking, well if the Yarn Harlot AND Judith McKenzie say this is The Done Thing, well….
Like Sal, I had to try this sideways drum carding myself. Sal has already described what happens–smaller, fluffier batts. That’s what I found too. Instead of thick and sometimes compacted batts you get fluffy rolags, like the ones you would make on hand cards–but bigger.
These were very easy to spin, like rolags. There was none of that peeling apart and fussing around with a big batt. It was all the good aspects of a hand carded rolag, only bigger and no sore wrists.
Some of the fiber I used was polwarth/silk roving that’s been in my stash for awhile. It opened up nicely when carded sideways and was a breeze to spin.
Lastly I put some scoured fleece (just washed, undyed, still a bit of a mess) through sideways. Here I didn’t see a huge difference putting unprocessed fleece through sideways. The batts were about the same. Having said that, once I get to the stage where I’m going to blend some of this fleece with another fiber or other colours, I’ll be doing that sideways. I like those big, fat rolags!
Sally here again: I agree with Rachel, it does make easy-to-spin batts, especially with the longwool blend I tried. I suspect this may be because, by sending the wool through sideways, I’m actually spinning on the fold with the long fibers. I was also able to maintain some of the crimpy locks, which would have been carded apart going through aligned. I think this is definitely a great way to do an art batt.
When I was spinning the batt that was half normal/half sideways, I noticed a definite difference in how the yarn felt while spinning, which I would attribute to a worsted vs. woolen preparation. The sideways portion looked like it was going to have more of a halo due to the fibers not being lined up. If I look very closely, they may be slightly fuzzier, but after washing and setting the twist on the single, there is really very little difference.
So what do you think, Rach, is this actually a thing? My take, it’s definitely not NOT a thing!
Rachel: Sal, I have to agree with you. Not a Thing. I wouldn’t advocate a sideways-only approach to drumcarding. If you want to spin rolags, yes go sideways. If you want to open up some compacted roving, go sideways. But sideways only? I’m not so sure about that.
What I would suggest is being careful about how much fiber you load onto your drumcarder. Don’t overload.