More Hand Carder Information
Hand cards are used to prepare fiber for spinning. You can prepare a wide variety of fibers from wool, cotton, alpaca, angora, and more. Wool and cotton are the two most common fibers to card. Hand carding has a learning curve to it in order to create well prepared fiber. You can create a small batt, rolag, or puni with hand cards. Hand carded preparations are mostly used when the spinner wants to jumble the individual fibers to spin a woolen yarn. A woolen yarn is a lofty, warm yarn that traps a large amount of air between the individual fibers which is what makes it warm. You typically get more yardage for the same size yarn out of a woolen yarn, but the yarn isn’t as sturdy as other types of spinning.
Hand cards come in different TPI, or teeth per inch. The finer the fiber, the more TPI is required to properly card the fiber. For example: 54 TPI is used for coarse wools. 72 TPI is going to work well with medium woos. 90 TPI is used for fine wools. 120 TPI is good for super fine wools, alpaca, and angora. Teeth higher than that are typically used with cotton fibers.
Hand cards come both curved and straight back. The difference between curved and straight is mainly user preference. Typically whatever a person learns on is the type they will prefer. The different sizes of carders is also personal preference, though if a person has hand or wrist issues a smaller, lighter carder will be easier for them to work with.
Carding is used with shorter fibers, not longer ones as the long ones simply hang off of the edge of the hand carders to the point that it is difficult at best to properly card the fibers. Fibers longer than 3-4 inches, depending on the size of your hand carder, are normally combed. Combing is an entirely different process that makes a worsted type of yarn.*
Hand cards can also be used for color blending as well as preparing unprocessed fiber for spinning. Colors can be partially blended for a heather(ed), stripy, or block effect while spinning. They can also be well blended to create complex colors that have more depth due to the different colored fibers that make up the whole.
Hand carders are portable and less expensive than a drum carder which makes them ideal for a person who is just trying out fiber prep, wants to play with color blending, doesn’t process large amounts of fiber, or doesn’t want to invest in more expensive equipment
*worsted yarn is the opposite of woolen. The fibers are vertically aligned so the resulting yarn is smooth with less trapped air. So the yarn isn’t as warm, but it is sturdier than woolen yarn.