Roving Reporter: Turn Your Fiber Dregs into Fab Gradient Batts with Drumcarding

What do you do with fiber dregs? You know what I mean—those little stray bits of silk, wool, and colorful locks that were left behind in the bottom of a basket or were tangled just enough to create lumps and bumps in our yarns. Since my early spinning days, I’ve been saving these bits and pieces for drumcarding into batts.

When I amass a quantity of misfit fibers, some beautiful, some less so, I give them new life by running them through a drumcarder. Here is how I do it:

1. Gather your hoard. At this point, it looks like a small mammal has been lining its nest. How can this ever be something beautiful?

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A spinning rat’s nest. Photos by Kate Larson.

2. Sort colorways. This is my favorite part. You don’t need a background in color theory or a project idea to start playing with color. Make a few piles of colors you like together. Move colors around between piles. Feel free to just exclude something that isn’t fitting in and use it next time. If you are feeling intimidated, stick with monochromatic palettes (gather all the blues, for example) or analogous colors (colors that sit together on the color wheel, such as blue, blue-green, and green).

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A little sorting, and it starts to be something worth spinning again.

3. Pre-card. Pick one of your colorways to work with first. Here, I’ll work with the colorway on the far right in the image above. I separated this colorway into three smaller piles to form a gradient: white, gray, and blue-greens. Now it’s time for drumcarding each of these three colors to open, untangle, and blend the little bits of leftover fibers for spinning. (For a refresher in drumcarding, see Deb Menz’s article on drumcarder maintenance.)

I took all the white wools, silks, and such and began feeding them into the drumcarder slowly. I teased any locks of wool or tangled fibers open because I wanted a smooth preparation. Next, I pulled this batt off the carder, split it into pieces, fed it back into the drumcarder, and removed it again. I repeated this process for the gray fibers and then the dyed blues and greens. In the end, I had three separate batts that were ready to spin or serve as the raw material for a set of gradient batts.

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Three batts lie in wait. Next step: gradient drumcarding

Check back next week and I’ll show you how I assembled these batts into gradients!

—Kate Larson


Let drumcarding transform your spinning!

 

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