How Fiber Prep Is Like Riding a Motorcycle

When I wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, I hit a double bind: I wouldn’t know if I wanted to buy one unless I practiced enough to make an informed decision. But without good bike handling skills, you won’t find anyone to lend you a motorcycle. I faced the same thing when I thought about buying fiber prep tools. A drumcarder or a set of combs or even handcards seemed like opportunities to hurt myself in new and expensive ways.

Filling the tray of a drumcarder lightly and turning the crank until a fine layer of fiber builds up on the drum can create a feeling no less exciting than hugging mountain curves on a purring motorcycle. But if you overload the drums and force the crank, you can ruin a beautiful machine.

fiber prep

Try all these and more in Maggie’s Fiber Preparation class—no license required! Photo by Maggie Casey

All of these things are a little costly, can be dangerous if used carelessly, and take up space. You’ll enjoy all of them more if you have the skills to put them through their paces. And if you’re looking to buy one, the choices can be overwhelming. But unlike a motorcycle, spinning tools are available to try if you ask the right person.

Taking classes from Maggie Casey has let me play with all kinds of lovely spinning tools, and under her watchful eye I’ve never had an accident with fiber prep equipment. Maggie keeps her equipment tuned up and ready to roll, so I know the spinner before me didn’t push the drumcarder a little too hard.

TPI (teeth per inch) vary, but so does the length and size of the wire.

Kate Larson loves carding, and when you’re done with her class, you will too. Photo by Kate Larson

At Interweave Yarn Fest 2018, Maggie Casey and Kate Larson will both be teaching classes in fiber preparation. On Saturday, April 14, Maggie will let you play with her tools all day in Fiber Preparation for Spinners. On Sunday morning, Kate Larson will teach you how to avoid gnashing your teeth on handcards or otherwise in Learning to Love Your Handcards. After it’s all done, you’ll know exactly what kind of fiber prep you want to do more of and what you’d just as soon skip.

(As for my motorcycle, I had to buy a bike to keep learning. I made a bad selection, had a very small accident on the test drive, and wound up the owner of an overpriced lemon that I sold for parts a few months later. But no one was injured, and I still have the license in case I want to ride again.)

—Anne Merrow

Featured Image: Born to be wild? Use your handcombs carefully. Photo by Maggie Casey; rose illustration credit Getty Images/ naulicreative

Get rolling with fiber preparation!

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