What is Carding Wool?
In order to start spinning your bundle of raw wool into thread, you must first card the wool. Carding the wool opens up the locks of wool and can also remove any remaining vegetable matter. There are three main ways this can be done. The first is by sending the wool to a mill and getting some roving back. The second way is to use a drum carder. The third and final way is to us a pair of hand carders.
Tools Used in Hand Carding Wool
The primary tools used to card wool by hand are called carding paddles or hand carders. What are hand carders? Basically the hand carders are a set of two paddles with a carding cloth attached to the face of the paddle. This carding cloth has metal teeth attached to it. The metal teeth are like a hair brush. When you brush your hair the individual teeth help separate your hair. Depending on the fiber you are using you may want a set of hand carders that have 54 teeth per inch (TPI) if you are using a coarse wool. Though if you are carding silk, alpaca, or some other really fine wool you will want a set of carding paddles that have a TPI of 120. If you are unsure what type of fiber you will be carding you can get a set that is kind of in the middle with 72 teeth per inch.
How to Card Wool by Hand?
When I started to write this article I tried to find a decent way to describe this process that was not confusing. I never could come up with something, so here is an even better video from my friends over at Handspun Exotics on how to card wool using some hand carders
What To Do With The Wool?
Now that you have the wool carded and into rolags you can do a few things with wool. The two most poplar choices are the spin the wool into yarn using a drop spindle or spinning wheel or you can felt the wool. When the wool is in this form it is also fun to dye the wool colors which will give you some really pretty yarn when you spin it up or you can also use the hand carders to blend the dyed wool together.