Roving Reporter: Carded Clouds Fiber Prep

Carded cloud—with colors swirling and fading into one another—is not a fiber prep I often see in my fiber travels. Well-prepared cloud, with clean fibers open and ready to welcome twist, can be hard to come by. While teaching in South Dakota last year, I purchased some fabulous cloud from Kelly Knispel of Dakota Carding; now it’s time to sample! I’m trying 3 approaches to holding and preparing Kelly’s cloud for spinning.

Cloud is easy to spin and seemed just the thing to tuck into my pack for California teaching adventures. When I worked with Dakota Carding cloud the last time (purple skein above), I simply spun from a handful of lovely cloud—no preparation needed. This time, I laid my cloud out under some California sycamores to try a few fiber prep methods.

Spinners I meet can be unsure of how to hold cloud—there isn’t a clear end to spin from like roving or combed top. Depending on how you handle cloud, you can create preparations that are more or less organized.

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Cloud straight out of the bag.

1. Spin straight from the cloud.

It’s that simple—grab a chunk and add twist. This is a less organized preparation and will give you more texture in your yarns.

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Rolag style.

2. Roll cloud into a rolag.

For a preparation that yields airy, lightweight yarns, try rolling a piece of cloud into a rolag. Lay a thin sheet of cloud out and roll into a tube. This can give you a bit more control over the fibers in your hand, but not reduce the loft and nature of cloud preparations.

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Make a roving.

3. Draft a roving.

A commercial carding machine creates carded blends that are then attenuated into a roving. We can do that with our hands as well! Hold the cloud mass in your non-dominant hand—the hand that typically holds the fiber while you are spinning. This hand acts like a diz or funnel. With your other hand, pinch some fibers and draft forward a few inches. Drop the little strip of sliver that emerges and repeat. I like to draft a long strip and then roll it up into a ball for spinning. This is the most organized preparation of the three listed here. As the fibers are attenuated, they begin to move into a more parallel orientation—more worsted-like.

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Three quick preps for cloud: (from left) chunk o’ cloud, rolag-style, and drafted sliver.

Come back next week and we will look at spinning methods and yarn designs for these beautiful fibers!

—Kate Larson

Featured Image: Purple Passion carded cloud from Dakota Carding before spinning and after plying. Photos by Kate Larson.

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