Safety First! 4 Tips for Preparing Fiber for Spinning Without Hurting Yourself

When we’re caught up in color blending with our combs and handcards, we rarely stop to think how sharp our spinning tools really are—until we get poked. Ouch! In this excerpt from the Fall 2018 issue of Spin Off, contributor Mary Egbert shares these 4 safety tips when preparing fiber for spinning.

preparing fiber for spinning

Clean off combs by sliding your hands along the sides, not by reaching over the top. Photos by George Boe.

1. Drumcarder
When the carder is in use, objects other than fiber can get caught between the drums. If you have long hair, make sure it’s secured away from the carder. Avoid dangling jewelry around your neck or wrists. Don’t wear loose long sleeves or long scarves when carding.

2. Handcards
When carding, take care not to scratch your skin and support the cards to avoid repetitive strain injuries. Some spinners have cloth covers that hold a pair of cards together and prevent accidental punctures.

3. Combs
Keep your eyes and attention on the combs when you are loading them. Hold each fiber lock taut between your two hands and load the lock over the top of the combs with one hand in front and one hand in back, keeping your fingers clear of the tines. When you are combing, always move the combs away from your body, not toward your body.

4. Hackle
I have often seen artists lashing fibers onto a hackle with a very quick overhand repetitive motion, and I wince every time; this is an easy way to gash knuckles or fingers. I suggest using the same loading technique as for the wool combs to prevent a great day from turning into a really bad one.

—Mary Egbert

Mary Egbert is the owner of Camaj Fiber Arts and the Spinning Box. She is the creator of the Eszee Twist Tool and author of the e-booklet How to Scour Wool Like a Boss. She is a physical therapist by trade with over 20 years of experience and multiple certifications in her field. Find her online at

To read the rest of Mary Egbert’s article “Fierce Fiber Prep: How to Comb & Card Safely,” download the Fall 2018 issue of Spin Off.

Featured Image: Each tool comes with its own hazards, and knowing how to safely use sharp tools greatly reduces the risk of injury.

Get more tips on preparing fiber for spinning from Spin Off!

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