The carder is an amazing machine which is still pretty much the same, in principle, as carders designed in the mid 1700"s. Essentially, fibre is untangled and aligned by rotating cylinders of variable sizes running at different speeds. The cylinders are wrapped in card clothing comprised of fine metal pins or wire teeth. It is central to the process of creating yarn. Now that all the basic preparation is complete, we can take the first step towards yarn. It is now that a decision must be made about what yarn, since the feed and sliver weight needs to be calculated as well as the number of slivers. Each sliver will eventually be spun into an end and the ends plied, so if a 4 ply yarn is required then 4 equal length slivers or multiples of 4 will need to be made from a single batch of fibre.
The carder aligns the fibres into a continuous web which can be consolidated to form a sliver or roving. Careful control of the feed weight ensures a consistent sliver, which in turn translates into a consistent yarn. It is at this point in the process that the sliver can be wound onto a roll known as a "bump" and used for hand spinning. The web can also be wrapped without consolidation onto a large roller to form "batts" for use in felt making. We also have an attachment for the carder which takes the web and wraps it around a core thread to make a strong and durable thick carpet yarn. Carpet yarn can be made from clean leg and neck fibres which is a useful way of using fleece that would otherwise have very little value.