I love and collect handcards the way that many of my friends collect spindles. New cards, antique cards, flat or curved, they are all unique and do different jobs well. However, if you have not fallen in love with the pursuit of the perfect rolag, you are not alone.
I just spent a weekend with the Flax and Fleecers Guild in Fort Wayne, Indiana, discussing several approaches to handcarding and how to make the most of this spinner-friendly tool. I love spreading the good word that you can use your cards to create a wide range of spinning preparations! Here are just three options to get you going:
This is the most typical fiber preparation spinners make with their handcards. After fibers have been carded until smooth, roll the rolag from the tip of the card toward the handle. Spin this tidy tube from one end, creating an airy, woolen yarn.
For a woolen preparation, Kate rolls the fiber from the long edge of the card to the handle.
This is a wonderful technique I see spinners use less often than the woolen method. After carding your fibers until smooth, begin rolling your rolag from one edge of the carding cloth to the other, sideways. This aligns the fibers as it would for a worsted-type preparation.
Instead of rolling from front edge to handle, roll into a little bundle from one edge of the card to the other.
This method is different than the previous two and only prepares one lock at a time. (You can read more about it in my Spin Off Spring 2012 article, “Flick Carding for Color.”) Hold a lock firmly at one end and pull the other end through the carding cloth. Flip the lock and pull the other end through, and make a few more passes if needed to prepare the middle of the lock. You can spin this from either end for a perfectly smooth, worsted preparation. I especially love this method for handpainted locks.
Hold a lock firmly in the center; drag one end through the carding cloth at the top edge of the carder; turn the lock around and do the other end; and you are ready to spin!
Kate Larson is the editor of Spin Off and spends as many hours as life allows in the barn with her beloved flock of Border Leicesters.
Originally published October 17, 2017; updated November 7, 2022.