Hand Carding for the Sweater from Scratch Series

Note- This the second post in the Sweater from Scratch series where I obtain a raw alpaca fleece and get in way over my head trying to process it by hand and eventually make a sweater. You can read the first post (with video) here.

Let's begin...

Hand carding, also known as fluffing up your fleece and making it go everywhere, is a rather simple process, once you get the hang of it. Below is a video I made explaining a bit about the history of hand carding and showing how I do it. 

If you can't watch the video because you are, say, at work and don't want everyone to know you are watching videos about crafting and not doing your job, then here is a short synopsis. 

To start the video I give a little history. Hand cards, which are wood paddles with little metal teeth on them (think the stiff side of velcro) have been used since about the 1300's. Before that they might have used a type of dried nettle to fluff and separate the fibers - tis the theory anyway. 

I then give a short demonstration about how I card my alpaca fleece which you should really just watch when you can because me trying to explain it in writing would take a long time and probably not even make sense. 

Towards the end I talk about how I store my fleece which I put in a plastic storage bin with a lid because otherwise I would find my cat and dog napping with it. I have another smaller container where I store my "rolags" or fleece that I have carded. 

In the end, hand carding is a time consuming process but was the way things were done for hundreds of years. A set of hand cards can run anywhere between $30 and $80 but last a long time. If you like having control over ever step of the process from raw fleece to finished garment then carding your own material might be right up your alley. 

If you actually want to learn how to card wool by hand then I suggest watching the video below. I'm still a novice at it and this lady has hand cards that look older than I am so I get the feeling she has done this a time or two.

So far this has been the least fun step in the process but I wouldn't call it bad. It takes a little finesse to get it right and then time and elbow grease to get it done. But sitting outside on a nice day while chatting with a friend is how women historically made this job a but more fun I would think. Either way, it has to get done if I am every going to get my sweater done!