I have always laboured under the delusion that I’m not very good with my drum carder. We have an uneasy relationship, and I’ve never quite gotten it to give me what I want. I put the fibre in, the way I was taught to put it in, and I turn the handle and what I get is pretty good, but it’s never been the fluffy, incredible batts that I want. I had, therefore, checked about eighty nine resources for hand spinners to try and learn more about it, and had seen the same advice and technique just about everywhere. Everybody I know and have ever been taught by has done the same thing. They open up the tips of the fibre- if need be, perhaps tease a lock open a little, then feed it into the carder. There is eccentric and rampant debate about whether or not this should be done tip first, or butt first, but if you want to start a nice healthy debate in a spinning circle, you can bring that up. (It’s like stating your position on circulars or straights. People have opinions and fierce convictions.) This is the way things are. I encourage you to go check all your resources (as I have) to confirm that you think you know how to card. Imagine my shock yesterday then, when I was in Judith MacKenzie McCuin‘s class and she’s chatting away, and is tossing bits of leftover roving and such into a drum carder while she’s talking, and I’m watching her, because she’s throwing them in SIDEWAYS. That’s right, SIDEWAYS. Not tip first, not butt first, not even an end first, SIDEWAYS. I’m watching that, and I’m thinking something like “poor dear must be exhausted” or even “maybe things going into a carder straight isn’t as important as I thought” when Judith just tosses the following statement into the air, and the world as I know it shattered into a million little pieces.

Fibre always goes into a drum carder sideways.

I swear it. That’s what she said. She said fibre, and always and SIDEWAYS. I was gobsmacked. Messed up. I fixated on it for hours. I kept dragging her back to the topic. She’d move on and I’d say something like “I’m sorry, I just have to try and understand this. Are you saying that FIBRE GOES INTO A DRUM CARDER SIDEWAYS?” and then she would say something like “Yes” and I would say something like “Is this a secret? I mean, how can I card without knowing this for 10 years? I had carding lessons. I’ve looked at books. I know spinners. Why didn’t somebody tell me?” and Judith would very patiently explain about the knowledge gap between the industrial wool sector, which ALWAYS FEEDS FIBRE INTO THE DRUM CARDER SIDEWAYS and the home spinner, where it’s like we took the scaled down version of the equipment but not how to use it, and that makes sense. If you look at how fibre comes out of carder, it would make sense to think that’s how it goes into a carder. I get it, and it’s not until you think about how you might tease open a lock by pulling it apart sideways before you put it into a carder that you get the concept of what a carder is really supposed to do. (The irony that I have been pulling locks apart sideways and then putting them in straight for 10 years is not lost on me.) I heard her. I understood her, I watched her, and I saw the batts and she’s right. It is not a load of hooey. It totally works, it works better, and still it was all I could do all class long to contain myself. It’s still almost all I can think. I keep wanting to go up to Judith and say “just to clarify, you’re saying that FIBRE GOES INTO A DRUM CARDER SIDEWAYS?” which I have actually done a few times and yes. That’s just what she means.

Now, this is one of the most shocking fibre revelations I’ve ever heard. Seriously. There are people I have to phone about this. I mean, c’mon. Honk if you were taught the exact opposite of this. Honk if your drum carder instructions say the opposite of this. Then go try it, and get back to me. It’s messed up dudes. Messed up… but there is one good thing… it turns out that I don’t know if I suck at drum carding yet.

277 thoughts on “Sideways

  1. I just had to call my friend’s Mom over to read this one. She was in the middle of using her drum carder and swearing like a pirate, when after reading this, I suggested she throw it in sideways, just ot see what would happen.
    She then called me an idiot.
    5 minutes later she decided to try it, found it worked some kind of fibery wonder and was standing there, dumbstruck. She then swore and announced she was going to have a cookie and a glass of wine. (at 9:30 am. Its 5 o’clock somewhere, right?)
    So at least you’re not the only one who was sidewsiped by this revelation. :o)

  2. Honking, waving, and shouting right now. Hmm, should I REALLY try to eat Raisin Bran with one hand and card with the other? Er, probably not.
    So long, breakfast!!

  3. My brand new spinning wheel is still upstairs in pieces waiting for my husband to stain it. (I’m pregnant. I have no idea if I’m allowed to do this myself.) I am glad that this was my first spinning lesson. If I ever become cool enough to have my own drum carder, I will remember this! Thank you!

  4. WHAT?!
    I was taught how to use a drum carder by Maggie Casey, the great shining goddess of spinning, and SHE didn’t tell me to put the fiber in sideways!
    I…I…I don’t even know what to think. I need to call Maggie.

  5. Well I am 20 years more gobsmacked by this data than you, being 62 almost and having carded for perhaps 40 years, stunned, and I too, shall talk this up to all around..this is amazing info, makes sense, and incredibly hard to believe….never too old apparently….lol

  6. Darnitall for being a responsible tax-paying adult! I want to go home and try this **right freakin’ now** with my drum carder!!

  7. Worth the price of admission, huh?
    When you get home, we want pictures. Or are you going to wait until spring to go home?

  8. I just have to repeat the question posed by both Jenny and Molly, as I own hand cards and not a drum carder. This might explain a lot about how my rolags have been turning out. I can’t say I was specifically taught to put the fiber on the hand cards in any particular direction, but it certainly was never “fiber always goes on sideways” either.

  9. I would love to enlighten my grandmother on this…but i think it might just give her a heart attack…and of course i don’t want to do that

  10. HONK! HONK! WAVE!!
    Why do you tell me this stuff in the MIDDLE OF THE WORKDAY!!! I can’t go try this until AFTER 9PM!!!!!!!!!!
    And I’m in YOUR time zone! So that’s like, what, another 9 HOURS?
    I’ve taken drumcarder CLASSES and never heard this! And yet, it makes perfect sense! I guess I know what I’ll be doing all day tomorrow when I should be filing my taxes…

  11. Of course the carder is 10 miles away at my mother’s, working its way through a fleece so I can’t try this until Monday. I need to see

  12. Since I’ve never carded anything (by any method), I’m not suffering from quite the same incredulity, but I’m really quite stunned that we (the do-things-to-fiber-by-hand crowd) could take industrial equipment, scale it down, and apparently not pay any attention to how it’s used in the big form. I never would have believed there could be a knowledge gap like that.

  13. I have been craving a drum carder (really the only apt description) for some time now and now, when I finally get my hands on one, I will know the correct way to put the fibre in. Thank you!!

  14. argh…a shiny bright light is casted down on my drum carder and there is a sound like a thousand angels….sideways…

  15. Well. Judith has been saying this in nearly every class of hers that I’ve been fortunate enough to take. Saying you “must” put fiber in sideways is news, though. She’s always said you CAN put it in sideways for a very woolen preparation. I still often put it in straight, but so that I can pull the batts into something akin to top. I know it’s not top, but whatever. (Have you read her new book? She does not even MENTION “Navajo plying”! Yay! That says all you need to know about her opinion on THAT!)

  16. Now *this* is why I’m so excited to take Judith’s class at the GGFI this summer! I can only imagine the things she’ll say about spinning that will rock my world. I can’t wait.

  17. Wow! I would’ve never thought that. Of course, I don’t card (or spin, or any of it) so I wouldn’t have thought to begin with. But really? Wow!!

  18. I had my first carding experience a month ago and it was horrible. Everyone else made it look easy. This makes total sense. I want to card again! πŸ™‚

  19. You’re SURE about this?
    You do know that we will all be carding for the foreseeable future to find out if it works. LOL
    Carding world rocked by revelation!
    You’re SURE, right?

  20. How can something so simple be so completely mindblowing?
    Way back when you said that you would take a class from Judith MacKenzie McCuin on how to boil water, I became convinced that one day I will find a way to be in one of her classes. This just confirms it completely.
    I’m eagerly anticipating the delivery of her new book but it seems to taking it’s time in wending it’s way from the UK to France.

  21. WOW, similar to the revelation I got last year that I was doing a yarnover wrong……for over 35 yrs. I sure did learn something from those Monkey socks with a double yarnover. If you wrap the YO wrong, you can’t knit into the back loop of the 2nd one….there isn’t a back loop.

  22. No way!
    Gee, I’ve never had problems feeding fiber straight into the carder so that it would be parallel…
    Guess I’ll have to try it sideways next time….

  23. I have never really thought about what direction my fiber goes into my drum carder. I have always teased my fiber first, so it goes in every which way, and always seems to come out fluffy and lovely. I knew there was a reason I’ve NEVER taken a class on carding…. too many rules!

  24. I don’t own a drum carder (or even aspire to own one at this point) – but I thought I’d go looking on the Internet.
    The Joy Of Handspinning, a fairly definitive site AFAIK, shows the locks being fed in tip-first.
    Pacific Wool and Fiber has a “How-to” that doesn’t have photos, but a “handy tip” explicitly says *not* to put the fiber in sideways.
    Suddenly I can see this breaking out into religious warfare.

  25. If sideways is good enough for Famous 7-year-old Maggie Smith (see her batt-making video at, it’s good enough for me. OTOH, I’ve done batts with Abby Franquemont and seen her feed fiber in the other way – and she’s hardly a slouch in the batt department. So I’ve done it both ways, with results ranging from the disastrous to the spectacular, and come at last to the conclusion that, as with most things in the spinning world… it depends. On what? I’m still learning that. Type of fiber, desired results, phase of the moon, etc.

  26. Holy cow! I’m just as stunned as you! Guess what I’m doing this weekend. I thought I was taught by the best – Rita Buchanan, who did at least teach me not to fear blending mohair into my wool.

  27. That is an entertaining story. Even more entertaining is the commenters’ shining revelations, the gasping wonderment about a topic that makes no sense to me whatsoever. It’s like watching people experience a miracle and you have no idea what they see (perhaps Our Lady of the Sideways Carder?).

  28. I have the impression this revelation is on a par with Copernicus’ figuring out the earth goes round the sun (sideways, as well). I can also hear hundreds of thousands of drumcarders being called into action right now…

  29. I was totally taught to feed it in straight. This is very good to know. Unbelievable! Thanks for sharing!

    I wonder if the lady I sold it too wants to sell it back?

  31. I’m picturing thousands of carders simultaneously racing madly to their machines and feverishly feeding in the fibre sideways – a revolution, an epiphany in the making.

  32. It’s hard to honk when you’re laughing too hard at the punchline at the end. Count me among the gobsmacked. Can’t lift my carder out yet to try it out, but I will…

  33. Um. This just totally blew my home studio work schedule for this afternoon.
    What does it say for the collective strength of our denial that we all *must* give it a try before we *might* believe?
    Sideways? Are you sure?

  34. Now doesn’t it make you wonder what other fantastical things they are keeping from us?

  35. Oh, and with this revelation perhaps someone might come along and tell me that I can now parallel park my car sideways too. Please?

  36. Are you KIDDING me with this? Saint Judith of the Batts says SIDEWAYS?!?!? I guess this is one of those “don’t question it till you try it” things. Must go now, scientific experiment awaits. (And yes, after you Twittered that about sideways I went and looked all over for references to it. They all said the same thing. “For the love of God, NEVER put it in sideways.”)

  37. Wait…So you are saying that the fiber goes in sideways? Is that what you are saying? Cuz it seems like you are saying it goes in sideways…

  38. I’m not a spinner (yet — you all may still manage to convert me!), but I’ve had other long-held misconceptions shattered, so I know what the feels like.
    That being said, it’s really entertaining to watch you all freaking out about it!

  39. I don’t spin and so neither do I card, by drum or otherwise, but it’s fun reading all these amazed replies. Apparently the minds of hundreds, nay thousands, of spinners are being messed with at this very moment. Who knew?

  40. Sideways??!!?? Did you really say sideways??
    I am quite certain that my instructor(s) have specifically told me NOT to put the fiber in sideways…and I want to try it now…but the carder I’m using is borrowed….is there any chance that it would hurt it? Ack! πŸ™‚
    Learn something new everyday…

  41. Shortly before I bought my drum carder I was fortunate enough to watch a drum carding demo at a nearby Fibrefest. The lady demonstrating put the fibre in sideways. I remember making mental note of that because I had been under the impression that it was to go in straight but, having had no experience myself, thought I had remembered wrong.
    My batts were fluffy and beautiful right from the first one. Maybe I got off to a good start with that demo?

  42. although, if you think about it, when we do handcarding, we don’t do it sideways. So I think it’s totally logical we’d do the same thing with a drumcarder.

  43. You must blog in the future about the controversy this creates among all the spinning greats. Will Judith be shunned? Ridiculed? Will a new technique become widely accepted? I am dying to know what they all say and why they card the way they do. I do not have my own drum carder (yet) but aspire to own all pieces of fiber prep equipment. I, and many others I am sure, must know what becomes of this revelation. It will help in my future fiber preparation efforts.

  44. I took a class with Judith at SOAR. She did not one, but two things that left me feeling that way. First she blended silk with Buffalo down, but first she cut the silk. I’ve heard of people doing that, but have never seen it. Every fiber of my being shouted NO. The second thing she did was spin right off the cards. It worked wonderfully. I may never make another rolag again.

  45. Even though I’ve generally been pleased with my drum carded batts (with locks fed end first) I can’t wait to try sideways feeding to see the difference. Thanks for sharing this rather revolutionary tidbit! πŸ™‚

  46. Honk!
    I feel just the way you did, i.e., this cannot be right. If you insist, I will give it a try, just to see what happens. I’ll get back to you.

  47. But what’s that going to do to your yarn? Seems to me it would have to have an effect – make it tend more towards woolen than worsted, I’d think.

  48. I was very fortunate to take two spinning and carding classes with Judith and I completely hear what you’re saying Stephanie. To see her just feeding the fibre into the carder effortlessly any which way and then to have these fluffy, delicious batts of fibrey goodness roll off is quite remarkable.
    She certainly has blown many things I was initially taught about spinning and carding right out of the water.
    All hail Judith!

  49. I don’t spin, and have no opinion on this issue, but I’ve just realised that I’ve spent the last hour or so periodically refreshing the comments on this entry to see if any of the shocked carders has actually gone home and tried it, and reported back. That’s how exciting you’ve made this to me, Stephanie, you and your devoted followers…
    Or maybe I’m just really not into working today.

  50. I love having that kind of Big Moment it a class.
    That’s how I learned to knit from right to left (purl backwards). I sat in the class and a brillant teachers said “Stick the left needle through the loop. Wrap the yarn around the needle. Pull it through.” 15 secs that was totally worth every dollar I’d paid for the class. I’d previously spent hours trying to figure it out myself turning the needle around and around.
    And, the rest of the class was great, too.

  51. No, kidding? Gee, I took a Patsy Z class a couple of years ago and we blended different fibers in the drum carder and not once did she say to put it in sideways. Hmmm… Gotta check this out for myself… Hmmm… This could revolutionize my carding world.

  52. I’ve taken classes about industrial drum carders and I didn’t know this. It makes sense, but I’d be worried about breaking fibers.

  53. Just another good reason to refrain from expanding my fiber repertoire. That, and lack of space. πŸ™‚ I *love* that even at your advanced level, you still have “ah-HAH!” moments.

  54. Repeat after me. “I am not a bad carder, I just didn’t get told one important step in the process.”
    Now have a glass of wine, and a bit of a lie-down to recover from the shock.

  55. I’m off to tell Abby to check this post. NOT that I am disagreeing with you, just that I am interested to see her reaction. Will it be, “OMG NO WAI JMM IS RONG!!!1!!” or “Heh, duh, doesn’t everyone know this?” πŸ˜‰
    I wanna see JMM and Abby throw down. I would pay good money to see them go head to head. But I think they like each other too much and they’d both throw the match, and then we’d all get together and sing Kumbayah while rolling around in fiber.
    Fluffy, fluffy fiber.
    Did my comment have a point? I don’t even have a drum carder. Pout. *goes off to spin BFL*

  56. I’ve read your books but I just started reading your blog and I can tell it’s not going to be good for my bank account lol. After reading this I started looking up information about drum cards and spinning which I’ve never done but I have wanted to. Now I’m trying to figure out how I can hide the credit card charges from my husband. If I ever do get into this side of knitting, at least I’ll remember “sideways!”

  57. um, are you going to post photos to help people who are not spinners and who cannot call up a mental picture of a drum carder and what wool looks like coming out of one?

  58. Perhaps it’s because it’s Friday afternoon, and I’ve had no more than 5 consecutive hours of sleep for the past 2 nights, but that was friggin’ HYSTERICAL. Had me wiping my eyes at the end (“So what you’re saying is..” *snort*)
    And the best part? I don’t even spin.

  59. I have been hating my drum carder for years…years mind you and now you tell me the fibers have to be put in sideways What a conspiracy

  60. The world is round, huzzah!
    Apparently one does not have to be working in astrophysics to enjoy those kinds of revelations. How very cool.

  61. HONK! I’m another who’s at work and can hardly wait to try this out. By the way, what did she say about teasing the fibers apart? Or just she just toss them in sidways as is?

  62. Check out the latest Spindlicity.
    There is a video under kidspin of maggie making bats and she also puts the fiber in sideways. My 4yo & 2yo were watching her and asked me to get them a drum carder. Told them I would have to get myself one first.

  63. Wow!!! I’m learning to spindle spin, all on my little own, dreaming of having a hunka sheep to do all the stuff to so I can start from scratch and make my own yarn. I guess actually from scratch would be to have sheep out back….. maybe someday….. I think you’ve just saved me all kinds of frustration from what I’m reading here. I’ll avoid the ten years you’ve spent doing what the books and teachers said! Thanks Steph!!

  64. HONK ! I half expect you next to tell us the recipe for Kentucky Fried chicken… those 11 herbs and spices?
    Somebody should be shot with a ball of phentex for all these years of carding woe.

  65. Timing is great for this revelation. A Small town Kansas is having a Fiberfest tomorrow and we will just have to pass this revelation on to all who attend and possibly get some great batts made also.

  66. What wonderful, timely advice. My present to myself for finishing my degree this Spring( coz I AM going to finish it. I. AM. lol) is going to be a drum carder – and now I know how to put stuff in it. SIDEWAYS!!! πŸ™‚

  67. Just tried carding some home dyed mohair/wool roving feeding the roving sideways.
    Result? Big ol’ mess. Had to refeed the batt 4 times to get everything delumped and reasonably orderly.
    I believe it can be done, only that somebody better show me how before I try it again. I better sign up for a class and see the method for myself.

  68. Now that I also am jonesing for a drum carder….I had this thought…if we can run washing machines off of our exercise bikes, maybe we can have an alternative energy source from a gaggle of drum carders, all making wool together to prevent global warming (if the sock fits)….
    sponsored by the NO SHEEP LEFT BEHIND act

  69. Aven, I’m with you. I don’t spin, card, or anything else but knit, but I’m anxiously awaiting the results of all the experiments currently being done in response to this post. And loving the shocked, mind-frakked gasps of disbelief coming in from all sides.

  70. Holy cow. Wow. I’m still just a wanna-be spinner (okay, I have a few drop spindles, but I’m still kind of working out what exactly I’m doing with them yet), and I’ve never carded. But I’ve read lots of books about spinning, and they all include mentions of carding, and… wow.
    Honestly, now I just can’t wait to troll around the internet looking at all the spinners out there who are going to try carding sideways in the next couple days, to see all the loveliness.

  71. *honk honk honk honk!* Before I sound like a bunch of Canada Geese, I’ll say, yep, all my resources say tip first. Even the instructions for my carder. I’ve always been lazy and fed it any which way and prefer to feed it sideways. What does she say you do after stripping the batt and running it through a 2nd time? Do you pull it into pieces so you can feed it sideways again? Darn, I wish I could have taken that class….
    (If I have the courage I’ll ask you my question in person tomorrow PM.)

  72. Thank You thank You thank You!!! My drum carder is on the way already and Your post is so on time You can’t imagine it!

  73. WHAT???? SIDEWAYS???? ARE YOU SURE??? You mean I’ve been doing it wrong all this time??? You want me to go home and throw my fiber into my drumcarder SIDEWAYS???? This is like suddenly expecting me to start writing left handed, or drive on the left hand side, or or or.. god I don’t know what!! It just seems so wrong.. are you sure that is what she said? can you pls go ask one more time? pls?

  74. Ummm…I don’t mean to be snarky but…There is no “always” in carding or spinning. I recommend experimenting until you get what you want! The “rules” are set up by rigid spinning books/teachers/classes. Read all that as a suggestion to try! If we all relied on “this is the way it has to be” regarding some technique in spinning, we’d all be nekkid, NO, try again, We’d all be DEAD because our ancestors froze to death!! I definitely think some fibers card best sideways in a drumcarder. Some don’t. Oh, and here’s the kicker….many (most?) of our ancestors didn’t even have carders. Not drum carders, or even hand carders. Thank goodness they got beyond that, used their spindles/charkas/wheels etc. so they could stay warm, live good lives and we could be here today. πŸ™‚

  75. I have NO knowledge of drum carders, but it sounds to me like that one sentence totally made your trip worthwhile even if nothing else at all cool happens while you’re there. πŸ™‚
    Mental note to self to put fiber in sideways should I ever find myself using a drum carder…maybe someday!

  76. I’ve always put fiber in sideways (or often, a picked-open pile of fluff with no real directionality) for a fluffy woolen yarn. If I want a more worsted-type yarn, I feed the locks in end first so I can attenuate the batt into a more top-like preparation.
    It really does work to feed the locks in sideways, as long as the staple isn’t excessively long. It opens them up wonderfully and makes a great fluffy batt.

  77. wow..this is like getting information from the Dalai Lama.
    You have brought us to true woolness.

  78. I wonder if the feed-the-tips-in-first instructions are a result of having worked with carding combs? There, if you lay the fiber sideways, it’s a lot more work.

  79. I haven’t started spinning yet, wouldn’t know a batt if it hit me over the head, but now I think I need a drum carder, just to try it out.
    Is this sort of like telling the right-hand-throwing knitting world that it might be a good idea to also try out that funny Continental style thang?

  80. I am sitting here in Seattle, wishing I could rush down to Madrona confirm this fact with Judith. Sideways? Seriously? I’ve never heard that before (I believe you) and when I read this post my brain did a wonky little flip trying to wrap around the information. Color me surprised.

  81. honk. You have so f-ed with my universe with that on twitter that I got the drum carder and some greasy Jacob and. well. nothing bad happened. It’s quite lovely, really.

  82. Thank goodness I only acquired a drum carder recently, so can have this information from the beginning of my drum carding days. It never would have occurred to me to put the fiber in sideways. I would have thought it might somehow damage the fibers, but logically that doesn’t make sense.
    I wonder how many drum carders are being used right now as a result of this post. Thank you for sharing this awesome news. There will be a lot of honking going on today.

  83. Well, I was taught sideways – 30-odd years ago – but then, I live in Denmark. Maybe we’ve attacked drum carders otherwise?
    Or rather, what I was taught was: Dual-coated fleece: root over tip. Single-coated fleece: sideways. Blending: any which way you want …

  84. WOW!!!! I also saw Maggie on Spindlicty and questioned her sideways fiber feed but thought, hey – a 7 year old just made an incredible batt in alot less time than I have (I’ve only had my drum carder for a week! but LOVE it) – maybe I should try it. Now, Ms Yarn Harlot herself tells me that JMM (who obviously knows an incredible amount more than I do about carding) says SIDEWAYS! SIDEWAYS!?! Fine. Just had a glass of red – must be careful with the sharp points of the carder but gotta go. Fiber in sideways. Thanks, Steph!

  85. I, too, have been not-so-thrilled with my drum carder results. I can’t wait to try this.
    And, yeah, it totally flies in the face of all the instructions I’ve been given. Awesome!

  86. I may hold those hours at Juno’s with the gray Polwarth and the carder against you for the rest of your life. Both of you.

  87. So would you feed fiber to be color blended sideways too???? I can wrap my around feeding locks that way (sorta) but color or fiber blending????

  88. I usually just feed in teased stuff willy nilly with my main focus being to remember I can’t do it all in one batch–even with a drum carder, patience is a virtue! Who knew I was so cutting edge?
    I would still be careful of saying “always” (even coming from the honorable JMM)as some have pointed out. In my experience very long very strong fibers, such as silk or hemp fibers for instance, can tear/bunch/bend the hooks if they get too far sideways.

  89. i need to know — what kind of difference can this make for what comes out of the drum carder?
    not that i’ve ever used one; the one at the Guild hall looks positively lethal.

  90. Side-ways? Side-ways! SIDEWAYS!!??????
    Sideways? C’est vrai?
    Do you think my boss will let me go home early to test this? I mean my world has been altered. Me neither.
    But sideways?
    Guess what I will be doing tonight. And the cats thought I was nuts before. Good thing my husband knows and loves me because this trumps the dinner he is making for me.
    Sideways. Wow.

  91. Does this mean that we should put fiber onto handcards sideways, too?
    I agree with you. My world is shattered!
    And it comes out fluffy and nice?

  92. Honk Honk. Though I’m not the spinner in my family, my Mom is and I’ve helped her card since I was small enough not to cut up my fingers on her hand cards. She had several drum carders over the years, hand cranked and electric. We always fed everything in end-first. I’m calling her as soon as I’m done commenting and she’s going to be wowed.

  93. Wow! What great timing! My very first spinning class starts tomorrow and I can already (I’m certain) challenge the teacher….

  94. WOW. i am so gonna do this.
    for years i have hated carding because the wool always gets wrapped around the licker-in no matter how little or what technique i use, thus requiring a tedious session of teasing and pulling it off after it’s completely stuck there.
    and visualizing the sideways method, i JUST BET this is the answer to my problem.
    THANK you
    (and i’m so jealous you’re there and i’m not)

  95. …”I just started reading your blog and I can tell it’s not going to be good for my bank account…” Oh, Jessie, we can all empathize with your astute realization. Fortunately, YH’s blog and books include hiding tips.
    WOW! Sideways! My first spinning teacher instructed us to alternate layer directions, like for wet felting, but everything I have seen since has been end to end.
    Now if someone could please tell me which carder I should buy I’ll be all set. Wow, sideways!

  96. I don’t even knit, but you have to love good writing that makes use of the word “gobsmacked!” πŸ™‚

  97. I watched a Youtube video of a very young girl making batts yesterday, and she put the fiber in sifeways and I though “poor thing.” I had to wait until late evening to read this….. Looks like tomorrow is carding day. I am feeling both terribly excited and really stupid…

  98. Sue at 4:12 and Kelly a little later – I think you have it. I don’t card (nor spin, yet) but I had read that fibers had to be combed straight to spin worsted, and mixed up all directions to spin woolen.
    Even Judith’s original directions said that it was sideways for woolens. I suppose she doesn’t want to bother with worsteds now since most people like the fluffy woolens better.

  99. Hmm, interesting. I don’t have a drumcarder, but I have handcards. I think I might try it. Maybe I would like handcarding better. (Currently I prefer combing).

  100. Whaaaaaaaaaat?
    My drum carder, alas, was sold during the Great Poverty Years In Which Nothing Was Sacred and eBay Was My Savior…but I distinctly remember a) the batts pissing me off because they weren’t RIGHT, and b) the destructions CLEARLY! SAID!…tips first. TIPS. FIRST.
    Not. SIDEWAYS.
    …I wonder if I can sneak a new (or used, I’m not proud) drum carder into the budget…

  101. “(The irony that I have been pulling locks apart sideways and then putting them in straight for 10 years is not lost on me.)”
    Funniest. line. ever. (And I really needed a laugh today.) I ask you–is there anything more sublime than a petite Canuckfatale with a big case of righteous incredulousness? I think not.

  102. A lot of industrial textile machinery is scaled-up and mechanized hand-technology, adapted to the rotary-power system. A drum-carder is a glorified hand card. Just saying.

  103. Honk. Will eagerly await testing results once you have returned home, since I deliberately bought the same carder as you (i.e., had my husband buy the same one Ken did.)

  104. I am not a carder, and a pathetic spinner (thus far) but one of my major life theories has been confirmed today: Use instructions as mere guidelines and try different techniques until the desired result is achieved.

  105. W.W.A.D.
    What Would Abby Do?
    you totally need to phone Some People.
    I mean really dude…. sideways????
    Get out of town. Really. …….sideways.
    Maggie Smith does it sideways, but she’s like 7 the little dear.
    Judith, Our Judith, sideways…. no shit. Sideways.

  106. I think I’ll try a few Other Things sideways tonight too. wink wink
    He’ll be all like Hey Baby where’d ya get the new moves,and I’ll be
    you’ll never guess.
    Damn, sideways it is.

  107. I don’t have any kind of carding equipment yet and only 2 drop spindles, one made from a dowel rod and cds and the other is a wooden one I got at a local re-enactment event I go to, and I knew this. A lady I work with who taught me to use my drop spindles told me this. She learned it from the person that taught her to spin. Some day I will have a wheel and carders and a field full of sheep and I can put all this random information to some use.

  108. I’m gobsmacked – I don’t have one, but have played with one in “hopes”…but this then makes me wonder….my hand carders have always gone tip to butt, but I tease it sideways across the hand carders…oMYGAWD…if I put them sideways, would that mean my handcarding doesn’t have to go to a “pro” to get fluffy???

  109. This is one of those palms to the forehead moments. I have always put wool in the carder end first…..I just spent an afternoon at my local carding mill and my professional carder friend and we laid tons of wonderful roving to be blended….all sideways. Can’t wait to give this a try tomorrow.

  110. Great Goggelly Mugglelly!!!! It’s not April 1st, so do Canadians celebrate April’s Fools on a different day than Americans? I scrolled down and did not see a punch line.
    Well…I’m giving this a try, then posting on my blog about the experience!

  111. Wow! I didn’t realize that you have as many spinners who read your blog as knitters, or so it seems. I just got my first wheel and a set of hand carders, which I haven’t tried yet. Now I know the right way to do it. Thanks for the always inspiring info!

  112. Ah HA! I don’t want to duplicate any of the wanna-try-it comments.
    I have a question…..So, if my drum is 8 inches wide, I can only put in an 8 inch length of fiber? Or several of them, one after the other? What about those little 2-inch drums? I forget what they’re called.
    I’d sure appreciate an answer – I have a bucket of fiber I’ve been planning to blend somehow and I’d really like to get it thought out before I massacre the bunch of it.

  113. It’s things like this that have me a little nervous taking up one of the more labor/machine intensive hobbies, because without a good live resource (and sometimes even then) available the books can only take you so far. I’m less worried about it for spinning, but for fiber prep? Hoo boy!

  114. of course sideways. hmm, a friend recommended I read this and I was more gobsmacked that folks DIDN’T know to feed sideways!
    best batts come from sideways fiber, but remember you DO have the option of feeding it however you want to — to alter the final product and yarn. I generally use my picker to open the fleece wide and then feed it in side ways or in all which-ways. Once in a great while if (like others) I want a more compact, worsted type (though worsted from the carder is a bit of an oxymoron) yarn, I will laboriously fed tips in first. But only rarely.

  115. Uh, don’t hate me, but I’ve had a drumcarder for a year now and often feed the locks in sideways, but never had any guidance on the subject because I never read the instructions! It does work well, and if you think about it, it makes sense… making a batt on a carder you’re not trying to end up with every fibre lying smooth next to each other, parallel – if you wanted that you’d be combing.
    My personal hate is when people look at all the things I’ve knitted, admire them, say they couldn’t ever do that and I’m a genius, then watch me knit a row and say ‘oh, wait, you’re doing that wrong…’

  116. I’ve had lessons with Judith (the last was 3 days at SOAR with her and Nancy Bush) and I think she’s wonderful. I just love all her stories about her fiber travels and adventures. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have classes with many other wonderful and talented teachers. I think they’re all amazing and very knowledgeable. I also have a serious, and I mean serious, hero worship thing for Deb Menz. Since I’m a dyer, it’s only natural don’t you think. Color in Spinning is my dyeing bible. I’ve also helped at a commercial mill washing fleece and feeding fiber into the carder. The one thing that I’ve learned through all these experiences is that when you get the results that you want, you’ve found the right method for you. I’m amazed at all the different ways that there are to do things and get great results. Most of the well respected teachers have different techniques and methods to do the same thing, and often their advice differs, or is the exact opposite of, what other well respected teachers say to do. It seems that there are always other ways to do things so when I learn about a new to me method or technique I try it. If it works I keep it. If it doesn’t, I keep looking and trying new things until I find a method that works for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very well developed case of Judith-itis myself and I’m going to try this the first chance I get. I was pretty happy with my batts before, but there is always room for improvement. Just don’t tell the others what Judith said LOL!

  117. Having hasd a wool processing business for 12 years, I can tell you that it DOESN”T matter how it goes in. If a large quantity has gone through a power picker there is no way to put it in in any set direction but I have always gotten nice fluffy batts. Relax and enjoy and forget the rules, there aren’t any!!

  118. WOW! It really, really works! I LIKE IT! I tried it both on my drum carder, then with my hand carders!!! I posted pics on my blog! Thanks Yarn Harlot!

  119. You know you’re responsible for the world’s single largest 24 hour surge of drum carding, don’t you? I fed in (sideways) some extra long English Leicester which was not terribly well-picked, slightly matted from a dye bath, and further tangled by a cat looking for a warm nest site. Then I pulled the rough-carded batt apart and fed the carded bits in sideways…and pulled of a nearly perfect batt! Who woulda thunk? Thank you!

  120. Dyepotgirl said, “When you get the results you want, you’ve found the right method for you.” Absolutely! Here’s a corollary: If what you’re doing isn’t working, change what you’re doing. I’m thrilled to learn of an alternative way to card. Like Stephanie P-M, I’d been not-quite-content with my drum carding….until I tried something that was outside the realm of the standard instructions that I’d heard: I started to predraft my fibers lengthwise (not sideways). Hey, it helped me. But I typically blend already processed fibers on a drum carder that’s meant for fine fibers. So, I’m thinking success with different orientations of fibers will depend on the fibers, the drum carder, and the product you want.

  121. Ok, now you’ve killed my 3 day weekend. I’m going to be forced to spend it in the basement carding sideways!
    I make nice batts without swearing but they’re nowhere near as cool as the ones I see on Etsy. I’ve been drum carding for about 10 years too and I’ve always put them in lengthwise.

  122. Wow! I did not know that and shall have to try it. But not today! Today I am spending in the studio but I an finishing the flannel nightgowns and starting the cotton ones, once those are finished I will try this out. But not until then! Really! I mean it. Sideways? Who knew?

  123. I never knew! OK. Tell me this — you feed it in sideways — then, how do you divide it to spin it — lengthwise or crosswise of the batt????

  124. You divide it lengthwise, just like always. And when you want to put it back through the carder you pull off pieces off the end and put them in sideways too.
    And don’t hold them with you hand cause that is what it causing the licker-in to fill up. or it needs brushing down on the drum, to answer another comment up above.
    And it is ORACLE JUDITH, which how I quote her info. As in ORACLE JUDITH SAYS…so as not to appear as if I know anything but am quoting the …ORACLE! πŸ˜‰

  125. I knit but don’t card, dye, spin, etc and probably never will but was interested enough in your comments to spend the entire evening watching carding videos on my computer – the site is quite something and I can’t wait to get back to it again. Thanks for a great evening – it sure beat TV!

  126. Hey, the purpose of a carding machine is to clean up and align the fibers………I have always tossed the fiber into the carding machine whatever way they landed. How is is going to open them up if it can’t grab and pull them apart first. I have machines to do this, not me….and they do the job very well. I use a picker, dump the picked fleece into the hopper and let the carder pull the fiber in any which way it can.

  127. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have a carder but don’t use it because they always come out lame. Some time in my life I want to take a class from this Judith!

  128. I’ve been spinning for over 30 years and drum carding for well over half of that time. I’ve fed my fibre in both ways. I feed from the end if I want a slightly more worsted type batt and sideways if I want a slightly more woolen type batt, the emphasis here is on ‘slightly’. I get lovely batts both ways. I’m always very cautious when I’m told ‘always’ about that anything to do with spinning, no matter who is saying it. I say, try both ways, with different fibres, and use which way is best for you depending on what fibre you are usuing and the type of yarn you want. If you get what you want, you’re doing it right.

  129. WOW! WOW!! WOW!!!
    I just watched little Maggie working at the drum carder…
    I’m just a dumb grown up…doing stuff wrong!!!
    Yay Maggie…YAY!!! Judith!!!

  130. O.K. So now I’m known as icki in So. Cal. worldwide. Oh well, I guess some would say that is more correct anyway. But I still say to try any method you hear of and decide what works best for you instead of blindly following ‘the only right way’ no matter who tells you.

  131. You had me at SIDEWAYS! Consider me a new and permanent fan of the blog, based on this post alone. Thank you. I can’t wait to try it.

  132. @ Emma in France: “Way back when you said that you would take a class from Judith MacKenzie McCuin on how to boil water, I became convinced that one day I will find a way to be in one of her classes. This just confirms it completely.”
    I suppose boiling water is not too challenging, yet about two weeks ago I had a water boiling lesson: you can start the pot with hot water from the tap and then it boils in like 2 minutes. I had been raised using cold tap water because of our ancient leaden pipes.

  133. Years ago I read in Spin Off that this person put her fine fibers like Merino in at a 45 degree angle so that they would not cot, so occasionally I remember to do that with things like Cormo. I love my two carders-the fine Strauch and the coarse Canadian Made Well. If I can stand there long enough a beautiful batt will ensue. I have too many fluffy batts on hand and spin too little because I love to play with my fiber.

  134. We’re mostly taught, from Day 1 here on earth, that we must follow the instructions exactly when we’re dealing with complex machinery (I say complex because I seem to recall that technically a hand carder *is* a machine). Machines are invented because they’re more powerful than we are, or can do something better than we can, and we recognize that major, unexpected, and expensive things can happen when we ignore the machine’s rules.
    If you were hand carding and had read or heard that instruction, you’d happily say “Well, I’ll try just one the other way, to see what happens”, because you can see how the hand cards work and you can stop if it all goes horribly wrong. You control the hand carder. But with machines all you have is a vague foreboding that if you put it in sideways the whole thing will stop, stick, and require $$$ repairs.
    Now you know it doesn’t. Go Judith!
    PS: Cars have rules that you can’t just stick in any old oil, it has to be the right one for your car. Who knew?

  135. I haven’t started spinning yet so I just google imaged it and they don’t show it going in sideways so I’m with you on being fully shocked, just fully shocked, I guess it makes since though sort of

  136. I don’t want to be a pain, but you yourself said “There are no knitting police” and I have taken that to mean that there are also likely no spinning, nor weaving police, either and there are certainly no drum carder police!
    I have always felt that the fiber arts are one of the few places where there are very few rules and even those are up for discussion.
    Mary E

  137. I just tried this with my Louet roving carder (the little one) and some CVM I’ve been working with. The batt turned out great — the only reason I’m not planning to spend the rest of the afternoon carding is that I’ve got knitting to finish first. But it doesn’t bode well for the housework I’d been planning for tomorrow….

  138. I just checked the book written by THE main authority on color blending with raw fiber, and it doesn’t specify sideways or not! Horrors. I’ve only carded a little bit before at a workshop so I couldn’t remember the rules. But NOW I know. Thanks for the info!

  139. Yes, sideways= very good. For a very wild ride, layers alternating will produce interesting grains and shifts of color for singles spinning. I’ve made a few batts in my time and I find that, first and foremost, the trick to dazzling batts is to first locate the instruction manual, and immediately toss it out the window…LOL.

  140. It’s another way, but not the only way. If I want a smooth, worsted yarn and do not want to go to all the physical work of combing, I get a pretty respectable facsimile of a true worsted from lengthwise strips of a batt that has been prepared by feeding the teased locks into the drum carder perpendicular to the drum (not sideways). The fibers are aligned along the long axis of the batt and the pre-drafted strips are not too different from a combed prep. It’s not according to Peter Teal, but it’s good enough for me. Sideways would seem appropriate for a woolen yarn.

  141. Criminy! (or some such) I just learned to card from a spinner and I even asked her about direction as the ONE reference I found about hand carding says put the lock onto the card sideways. The spinner said “no, it’s like this” and uses the hand carder like a comb through one’s hair…. Sideways it is! Thank you Stephanie!

  142. I’ve never even used (or possibly even seen) a drum carder- but even in the imagination, I can truly appreciate why this is a gobsmacked moment. That’s why we need people to pass on this knowledge.
    As a friend who stands in awe of a friend who is learning to spin and is amazed at the technical knowledge and artistic flair required to learn even the basics, I wish we had more of a similar stringent apprenticeship one could pursue in knitting – if one was so inclined.

  143. Unbelievable. I have taken carding classes as recently as last year and watched carding videos and no one ever hinted this might be acceptable. I am currently 100 miles away from my drum carder, otherwise I’d try this right now. Is that an earthquake I just felt, moving through the fiber world?

  144. Farm-witch says she’s made a few batts in her time… funny πŸ™‚
    Considering I’ve made like 30 sets of batts in the last two weeks, I’m wondering how much nicer they might have been sideways. I’ll have to experiment with the next batch. I think it would make a big difference in how you can control the colors as they go on the carder. It would certainly be difficult to get the stripy batts, but if you were making a well blended set, this might be key. I wonder if this would make getting sparkle and such on easier, laying the sparkle in sideways… I bet the silky fibers would be easier also…

  145. I just keep thinking about this. I have never even touched a drum carder. I want to get out my wheel and spin. I strained my back a bit. I should wait for tomorrow to spin, lest I do something to keep me from the wheel for even longer.

  146. I am very surprised but then, there is NOTHING written in stone πŸ™‚ I would always try and see if it works for ME………no need to get all antsy and having to change your carding ways πŸ™‚

  147. I’d like to know the context of the comment: what was the desired end result of the yarn, was it intended to be woolen or semi-woolen…that kind of thing.
    There was an article in SpinOff a couple of years ago — I can’t remember anything except a picture of fibre laying in the tray thingy and the fibre is on the diagonal. The author explained that sometimes you put the fiber in front to back, sometimes sidways, and sometimes on the diagonal. It all depends on the fibre and what you’re going to make.
    And, as at least one commenter her has mentioned, it would be useful to know whether Judith also advocates sidways when using handcards.

  148. Holy yarn batman!!
    I will have to try this when I am reunited with my drum-carder, on the other side of the world, in a few months.

  149. HONK!
    Just read the post and almost keeled over! I’ve been yearning for a drum carder (I “inherited” 25 alpaca fleeces), but when I’ve attempted drum carding on a friend’s carder, the batts look kind of pathetic. HER batts look pathetic as well (just so you know it wasn’t just ME!) I couldn’t see why I should give up the hand carders to get crappy batts! I need to call her. now. yesterday. maybe last week?
    Thanks Steph!

  150. I read this to my husband (who recently bought a drum carder for me and I haven’t got to try it yet) (he is an Engineer) he says it is all about the “math” and “probability” and “geometry”. When you put the fiber in long ways to card it, you are trying to grab the end of the fiber which is small. When you put it in sideways you have a 100% chance to grab that fiber because it has the entire length of it. Then it drags it to become straight on the batt.
    I had no idea either!!!!

  151. Now I’m wondering if I’ve been handcarding wrong all of these years. Did you ask about hand cards, or what that have been just too much. My goodness the world looks different now.

  152. I’ve been following this here and on Ravelry and all I can say is, it reminds me irresistably of:

  153. I hate to be a naggy old woman and comment again, but I just have to. In defence of all of the books and instructions that show the fibre going in end first, try to remember most of them are just trying to get you started. They are not telling you every possible way to card, that be virtually impossible, would take way to much time and space. They expect you to experiment after you get the basics down.
    I’ve been reading all of the comments and what gets me is all of the people who immediatly shout “Holy crap, I’ve been doing it wrong all of these years!” Stop it, stop it now! There is no wrong or right in spinning. All that matters is that you’re getting results that you like. But do try every method that you hear of, in spinning, washing fibre, and carding. The only way to improve or solve a problem is to experiment. Some methods work better for some people or fibres, know as many methods as possible. Watch other spinners and read as many books and articles as possible. Try things that are new to you, but don’t throw out methods that you already know. Everything has a purpose and a time when it’s just what you need. And, please, all of my fellow teachers out there, please try not to tell your students always or never.
    Also, if your batts aren’t coming out as well as you would like, do try every other method you can find. But if you are new to drum carding don’t forget that good drum carding, like good spinning, knitting or anything else, takes time and practice. Also, the first thing you should try is making sure that your carder’s drums are adjusted properly.
    Thank you for letting me rant, but I do hate to see spinners limiting themselves to one way to do anything.

  154. I just wanted to check… did she say fiber or fibre? & how could you tell…. being an english person living in america I am in a perpetually confused state about such things…
    Oh & I’m sure the sideways thing is really important but I am completely clueless on spinning so I have absolutely nothing of significance to add to the conversation!! (love the blog)

  155. Galileo must be spinning(?) in his grave –
    that would be sideways, of course.
    you are right-everything I ever read and ever watched and ever heard said ‘end first”

  156. PLEASE tell me what ‘Honk’ means in this context, I’ve Googled it and I suggest you don’t . . .

  157. It makes perfect sense to me. I don’t own a drum carder yet, but this issue was on my list of things to research and/or ask about when I get one. The whole point of a batt is to create a preparation where the fibers aren’t all pulled into perfect alignment, to aid in woollen styles of spinning, right? Almost every drum carded batt I’ve ever seen looks like a glorified hunk of top, with the fibers in almost perfect alignment. I figure that if I want a perfectly aligned bunch of fibers, I’ll use my combs. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who thought that maybe it could be a good idea to mix things up a bit before putting wool through the carder.
    I’m astounded that there is a debate over tip first vs. end first. For using drum carders? Really? That’s the kind of thing I can imagine to be important to some people when using combs, but again, I thought drum carders were for a woollen spinning prep. If you’re going for a jumble of fibers, I’d think the last thing you want to do is align them all perfectly, all tip first (or butt first).
    But what do I know? I’ve only ever hand carded rolags, where you put fiber on parallel to the direction you’re carding, and where it doesn’t matter that carding only aligns things further because you’re just going to roll it up all into a rolag, anyway. Is it possible that the advice most people have been using for making batts is a misguided attempt to treat a drum carder like hand cards?

  158. Honk.
    If that works like I think it’s’ going to work, I won’t be sending off that fleece to the mill.

  159. Hee hee hee… I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I have had similar epiphanies… and most of them have been after making MUCH more public mistakes– go Harlot, for sparing your fellow human beings the same bemusement you suffered. And I look forward to seeing pictures of the differences:-)

  160. Holy *#%&*! Maybe that’s why it’s always such a struggle – can’t wait to try it again…

  161. I have to say, I think that information like this, and the discussions that arise from it – both in person and in comment sections like this – are the most amazing thing about professional conferences of all types. No matter your chosen ability/field/profession there are times when getting together with like-minded people will suddenly throw your brain into overdrive and in a totally new direction. Whether it stays in that place, or however it works the new direction into the old, that “wow” moment is what it’s all about.
    Thank you so much for sharing yours.

  162. Honkity, Honk – honk – honk!!!
    I just watched a Spindilicity video last week and had noticed that the young lady that was drum carding was feeding them in sideways. I remember thinking, “oh, she makes lovely batts, but the wee dear doesn’t know that they should go in straight”. Well, I’ve been put in my place! She obviously is in the know (smart girl!), and I’m not. πŸ˜‰

  163. OMG!!! I am going to try this. HONK! HONK! HONKITY! HONK! HONK! I was taught by a shepherdess that has her own yarn/fiber shop & a small fiber processing business to do it like the rest of us has done. Sideways. hmmm who would think putting in sideways. SIDEWAYS!!! πŸ™‚

  164. I have just returned home from a weekend retreat of spinning with Vancouver Island ladies. What a timely report! No- I never knew the locks should go in sideways. My goodness! I consider Judith to be the best spinning teacher I have ever had. Thanks so much for letting all of us know about this fact.

  165. I had that same lesson from Judith a couple of weeks ago. And along with it went the comment that “fiber doesn’t get stuck on the small drum if you feed it in sideways.” And then I did it on my carder at home and, and, and it doesn’t get stuck on the small drum, and I’m getting nice batts! I bow to Judith!

  166. It was nice to meet you at Madrona yesterday. You were very nice and I was very star struck. Meeting you and getting to wear my first hand knit sweater were the highlights of my day. Thanks!

  167. For those of you who may wish to try it, here’s how I do it. It’s a mixture of straight in, sideways, and convenience.
    1. Make the first batt by feeding fiber any way you like. Fill the swift to its limit. You can even use a brush to pack it onto the swift.
    2. When the swift can’t take any more, remove the batt. Now, from the side of the puffed-up batt, pull off a bundle of fibers—say, an inch or so.
    3. While continuously turning the swift, feed this “snake,” beginning at one end of the licker-in and draping it across the pan to the other end. When the licker-in consumes what you have laid down, quickly reverse the direction of the snake, and so fourth. The angle the snake makes with the axis of the licker-in can be quite small or 45 degrees or even more. For those of you who are sensitive to it, the smaller the angle, the more “woolen” the batt; the larger the angle, the more “worsted” the batt. (But a drumcard will never make “top.” )
    The effect will approach Judy’s recommendation of “sideways.” But now you have complete control of how the fibers are presented to the pins of the swift. Further, you will not be bothered with lumps of sideways-fed fiber. Instead, fiber will be smoothly fed to the swift, and carded fiber will be distributed over the full width of the swift, making a uniform density batt.

  168. That last coment makes total sense to me. I have carded my teased wool any wich way it comes and it does give me a very fluffy bat. Now what I didnt realise was that I should then card again the bats sideways….The cool thing is that you learn someting everyday. Thank you.

  169. O.K, so I just tried this with some simple wool roving I had dyed. The batt came out lumpy with the first pass, but I took it off and dutifully tore off small lumps from that first pass and gleefully tossed them in sideways. The resulting batt is really nice, I must say! I think this approach many even allow me to pack more fiber onto my drumcarder than The Other Olde Time-Honoured Way. I am now going to get frisky and try two ounces at once instead of just one.
    Steph, have you tried spinning from a batt like this yet? If so, what did you think? If not, please tell your readers! I’ll be really curious to see how the spinning of these batts works for you and others. I’ll put something on my blog, too, when I’ve worked with this more. But so far, not having spun it, I like what I see!

  170. Sideways for ALL drumcarders or just for a certain kind of drum carder?
    Everyone says they’re gonna try it, but I have yet to see any posts on the results. I’m afraid to try it, because I might fall over on the floor and not be able to post my results either.

  171. *boggles*
    Thank you! I bought a drum carder (a lovely little Louet, called Blaise), and cheerfully fed the fluff in, tip first, and ended up with a takeup drum full of fluff. I’m going to try this tonight.
    *Wishes there weren’t 4 and a half hours of work left so she can card things*

  172. Steph, I can’t thank you enough! I just got a drum carder a few weeks ago, and have been frustratedly trying to use it, employing my most spicy vocabulary, thinking that of course the fluff must go in longways. Who knew the sideways directional was a home-carder’s trade secret? It makes complete sense though, once you think about it. Thanks for sharing this wisdom. I am going to go home tonight and try it and post my fabulous results!

  173. for Rachael F. – here in the US, there was a popular bumper sticker for cars that would have “Honk if you love spinning” (replace spinning with some other item or activity). After a while it became a way of asking others if they agreed or had the same interests.
    I don’t card (yet), just started with spinning and knitting. No More Hobbies. No More Hobbies.
    No More Hobbies. OK – maybe one more?

  174. I haven’t read many of the comments, yet, so I don’t know if I’m the only one that knew this or not…
    I’ve been spinning, weaving, knitting,… since…5 yrs old??? (ask my mom), and she and I both have a memory at a craft show of me, about 8, with a group of adults standing around me, and I was patiently describing each step of the carding process…
    I’ve always taken a lock of wool, and brushed downward on the small end so that a bit at a time stuck (from the middle of the lock) and the bats all came out pretty and fluffy… Sometimes, if it’s not even enough, I’ll pull the bat apart lengthwise, and feed it again (not sideways, this time), and it would come out smoother, but most of the time, it wouldn’t be necessary!
    I don’t think I’ve ever read the instructions for the drum carder, but I do not doubt your accuracy.
    I think that this is not only equal to the “circular vs Strait” but also the “left or right hand” debate. (my mom also taught me to knit with the yarn in my left hand, then–much later–it was pretty easy to pick up the right hand for color work!)
    Sorry you had to go for so long not knowing this!

  175. Me again…last night I had a dream that I was showing my sister the sideways-carding thing. She was impressed. See what you do to me?

  176. happy early birthday to Hank.
    and you know, if you think that a carder makes a batt for woolen spinning, doesn’t sideways make sense?

    I’m absolutely stonkered on this one – gobsmacked, as you say, but I didn’t want to be a copy-cat. So I’m using Gramma’s word.
    Sideways carding. Mind-blowing.
    that Judith is one of my all-time fiber heroines…
    that I finally got her fantastic new book (love it!)…
    that the odds are extremely high that she probably knows what she’s talking about…
    that I totally suck at carding on my OWN carder and have always felt it was ‘me’ not getting it right…
    THANK YOU, Stephanie, for posting this!
    thank-you, thank-you, thank-you
    I’m going to go try it RIGHT NOW and see how it works for me. After all, I can’t *possibly* do a worse job carding than I already do. And MAYBE my stupid take-up drums won’t be so freaking full of perfectly GOOD, long fibers! And, if it works, I’m going to call every spinner I know and tell them!
    thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you ad infinitum!

  178. Vicki’s mom here… she did learn to spin at 5 yrs old. The other stuff came along at about 1 or 2 year increments.
    I’d never analyzed *how* we used the carder… but we usually put the new locks in at an angle, if not sideways-ish. The second time through, we’d do it at a lesser angle (usually). What a smack in the head to realize we’d been doing this to varying extent all along. Go figure.
    YMMV etc

  179. I don’t know anything about it but have been curiously looking at spinning and such. I am dying to know what you’re thoughts a bout the results since you’ve learned this new information. Does it make a difference?

  180. maggie taught me this exact same thing, and i ALMOST didn’t listen to her because she was.. what… 8 years old? but she was right. have you seen her video on youtube?

  181. seriously???
    i don’t believe it – this is an early April fool’s joke! no? Well, I ‘ll try it. maybe.
    But seriously, I don’t believe it.
    Stunned, I’m just stunned.

  182. *headdesk*
    Holy crap, are you frakking serious? *exhales* I was carding, doing like you do, merrily making kinda mediocre batts and now my world is askew – cockeyed, even.
    I must needs get more fiber to test this.

  183. HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(squeals with glee!!!! IT’S NOT ME IT’S NOT ME)

  184. HONK!!! So of course I ran right to my drum carder after reading this and I am a convert! I can’t believe what a difference it makes! Thanks so much for sharing this. πŸ™‚

  185. Just to let you know that the batts I produced on the weekend loading the fleece sideways are much nicer than my previous results. Thanks.

  186. Hi Stephanie
    Well here’s what it says on the site:
    “Handy Note: Be careful not to feed fibers in sideways, thinking they will straighten out. They eventually will, but only after they have been torn by the teeth.”
    However, I often do throw a lock or two in sideways, especially if I haven’t teased it out well enough. I haven’t noticed it tearing, I have to say. Mind you, I haven’t tried *all* sideways. That would be interesting.
    Off to experiment right now….
    Moi x

  187. This just seems WRONG… I’m dumbstruck. I’m going to try this. I’m not doubting you, I’m just gobsmacked too.

  188. I threw this out at the TechSpin list and have been getting all sorts of responses, mostly “No! You get tangles and noils! Don’t do it!” Someone had taken Judith’s class and it seemed to her that it was dependent upon the carder. I’m waiting for more responses, especially from Sande Francis and Abby Franquemont.

  189. Oiy…have you stirred up a hornet’s nest! Such a hubbub. All the spinning lists are going nuts over this blog posting. For us it’s rather earth shattering. Thanks for sharing.

  190. Several thoughts on this whole thread: 1) THINK. Use your head. Sideways is not always the answer; as several others have said, try lots of things, find out what gives you the result you like, and decide yourself what satisfies you and your purpose. Educate yourself and build an arsenal of techniques; it’s not that hard, or time-consuming. 2) TRUST. You are the best judge of what you want. Trust yourself and your tools. Don’t always jump on the bandwagon, but experiment for yourself. 3) ENJOY. This hobby is supposed to be fun and fulfilling; there is definitely more than one right way to do things, so if you are frustrated, by all means try something else (see #1).
    This is a very good post in that it’s made us all think about what we take for granted in fiber matters, but it shouldn’t make us all crazy thinking that “we’ve done it wrong” forever. Each of us a creative, capable person, or we wouldn’t be here.

  191. Steve Ableman of A Touch of Twist in Schenectady, NY, told me to card feeding the fibers sideways, for the same reason Judith gave you: that’s how they do it in industry. He demonstrated for me on hand cards, but said it applied to the drum carder, too, and sure enough, he was right, even though it LOOKS all wrong. Steve taught me this about a dozen years ago in his booth at the Mass Sheep and Wool show in Cummington, MA, and I’ve loved to card ever since.

  192. please… please .. post pictures of SIDEWAYS.
    my brain cannot compute how this could be so…

  193. Okay, first: Honk. It was presented to me as gospel truth, Holy Writ, that you feed the fiber in lengthwise.
    Enter my drum carder and a cormo fleece. Neps and noils and tangles, oh my. All of the spinning groups told me I had to wash to preserve the lock structure, and also make sure the fleece was really clean. I was also told to not overcard it, since it’s a fine fiber that doesn’t take rough handling.
    So when this posting came up, I had a BIG pile of washed cormo to work with. I have now carded lengthwise and sideways, and have just finished working up some on the wheel.
    Verdict: for this cormo, sideways is better. It pulled out all the little tangly bits – and it drafts much, MUCH better. The lengthwise preparation didn’t seem as well brushed, and is lumpy to spin.
    Single pass, sideways. Steph, you’ve saved this fleece for me.

  194. I think that sideways gives you woolen rolags and straight gives you worsted rolags. For a softer, more squishy yarn, you want to spin woolen. But worsted yarn has its place.

  195. The questions are numerous. So does it matter if you want a more worsted yarn than a woolen yarn? What if you are blending colors with an already combed top? Is this for the first pass or all passess? Does this work for all drum carders, or just certain designs? Can you pin JMM down and ask? And why isn’t this topic included in her new book? Perhaps that is a worthy 3rd book for her.

  196. Judith is SO my Yoda. I swear, if she taught a class in re-grouting tile, I would take it, despite my hatred of both grout and tile.

  197. Wow. Sideways into a drum carder. That makes perfect sense.
    I hand card sideways. I use my Viking wool combs by combing them straight-ways. However, the Vikings make a worsted yarn (very soft, very nice worsted) and the hand cards make a fluffy rolag but I always seem to spin that up into an itchier yarn than the Vikings.
    So, what I’ve been doing by hand is what I *haven’t* been duplicating by machine. And you can’t get a decent worsted yarn from a drum carder at all.
    And Jasmin, just for the record, I recently learned that when you are laying tile on mortar and clearing out those grooves between the tile for the grout DO NOT USE METAL IMPLEMENTS to clear the grooves. The tile will chip like the metal is attracting it right off the edges. Instead of grabbing for your putty knives, grab that stiff leftover plastic strapping tape and use bits of that to clean out the grooves. The tile won’t chip if you use plastic or something that is bendy. For the wall tile with tiny grooves, I used folded pieces of paper grocery bag to clear the grooves.

  198. OK, Steph, I carded, I spun, i washed the yarn, and I like what I got! (There’s a pic posted on my blog if you feel like taking a peek.) Thanks for the info. I hadn’t heard of carding this way before. now I’m going to be doing a lot of it! Who ever would have imagined I’d end up LIKING drumcardng? But this makes it so much easier!

  199. Hmmm…what about those of us with little Louet Jr. drumcarders? No feed-in tray and only 4″ across. Does this mean I have to tear things into tiny bits so they can go in sideways proper? I’m not seeing it…

  200. you mean to say after 10 years of carding you never once tried to do your own thing and try feeding fleece in different ways? surly not?

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