Share This!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Great Drum Carder Decision 2011

As a few of you are aware, if you follow me on Twitter or Plurk, I pulled the trigger and bought a drum carder. Being that this is a beginning business, making the decision to invest roughly $400 on a piece of equipment was a big step, especially since I am still personally funding my venture.

I will tell you which one I bought, but I thought that you might want to understand what made me choose the one I did. I did only look at the drum carders that were hand crank models, but made note of which had the option to add a motor. I list the pros and (not really) cons of each. I list them as "not really cons" because these aren't things that make or break the product. It's just something to be aware of.

Strauch Petite Drum Carder

First I looked at the Strauch Petite drum carder. It's a cute little machine, and it is a hand crank model in the high $400 range.

-comes with a packer brush included in price                         
-is equipped with the 128 tpi carding cloth                             
-batts produced are 6.5" by 22"                                          
-4:1 ratio                                                                            
-comes with the Knuckle Saving Batt Pick
to protect your knuckles from the pointy
-free shipping

 (Not Really) Cons:
 -only comes with the 128 tpi carding cloth
-batts are slightly smaller than other models
 -no option for a motorized attachment
 -light duty machine, not for production

I liked the idea of a knuckle saving batt pick, because the last thing I need to do is destroy my knuckles when trying to remove a carded batt from the drums, but was a little sad that there was only the finer carding cloth available. It's a good machine, and has received good reviews.  But you will need to be aware that it might not be able to handle major batt production.

Louet Drum Carder
I looked at both the Classic drum carder and the Standard drum carder.  The Classic has been around for the past 20 years, which means they have definitely honed its abilities. The only real differences I saw between the Classic and the Standard was the ratios (9:1 for the Classic, 12:1 for the Standard) and the carding cloth option. The Classic has 46 tpi, and the Standard comes with the 72 tpi carding cloth. 

-enclosed gear box to prevent fibers from getting in          
-faster than the louet, as far as ratios go                            
-drum size allows thicker batts                                         
-no belts to wear out
-two table clamps
-makes 2 oz batts (60g)

(Not Really) Cons:
-only one option of carding cloth per carder
-slightly smaller batt size 19" by 4" versus Strauch
-higher price tag ($590)

These appear to be good quality, and if you have ever worked with fiber before, you KNOW that fiber likes to get into interesting places, so the enclosed gear box is a great idea.  The price was a little too high for me, but it is for a known company that has been in the fiber industry for a very long time.

The next one I looked at was the Ashford drum carder. I actually own an Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel, so you might think that I am slightly biased. But read on.

-adjustable drums to accomodate all fibers                         
-rubber feet to prevent slipping                                          
-makes 65g (2.25 oz) batts
-larger batt size 24" by 8"
-two options for tpi 72 or 36
-optional packer brush

(Not really) Cons:
-no table clamp
-$470 (cheaper than the previous two)

I really loved the idea that the batts were larger, and that the drums were adjustable. This is a good idea. The price tag was slightly lower than either the Louet or the Strauch.  All good things. My biggest issue is that it didn't have a table clamp, since I've seen drum carders try to migrate across the table, and I'm not sure how effective the rubber feet would be.  Still, it's a good option if you plan on carding different fibers, since you can adjust the space between the drums.

Now we come to the last of the drum carders that I looked at.

This is the last one that I looked at. These are made by Anderson Originals, which is pretty much one guy with a lathe who hand turns these.  Getting past the pretty decorations on the sides of the Fancy Kitty, I only looked at the Kitten drum carders.

-rubber feet AND a table clamp                                           
-option for motorization                                                        
-batt size 8.5" by 22"
-optional packer brush
-3 options for drum tpi, 90, 120 or 190
-you can buy optional drums to get the other tpi's
-14 day satisfaction guarantee
-price between $359 and $389

(Not really) Cons:
-smaller batts than the Ashford
-come unfinished, but option for Tung oil

Okay. I'm totally in love with this one. I admit it. Not only do you have the option to change out your drums to accomodate different fibers, but there is also a motor option. It does make slightly shorter batts than the Ashford, but only by about 2 inches. 

These are hand made. I feel like, in my industry, supporting a one man show is more important than just buying one from any old company. There is a small con that there is a shipping charge, as opposed to the other companies that offered free shipping, but it's only $19.95 for shipping. And the price for the actual machine is easily $100 less than the others.

I did end up buying a Kitten. My specs are as follows:

-licker in 90 tpi, drum 120 tpi
-added on packer brush option
-no motor....yet
-unfinished (but I have wax and can easily do that myself)
-hand crafted

I feel really good about this purchase. Not only am I supporting another hand crafter, but I also get my expandability options as far as drums go. You never know if I would start carding super super fine fibers or super coarse ones. I like the idea of expandability and options.

Here are some more beauty shots. :)

I hope this run down gives you an idea of what to look for if you are considering a drum carder. Regardless of price, this is a big investment for any fiber artist, and it's nice to do your research. And don't just take my word for it. Each of these companies has a Ravelry group where you can go and ask questions. Don't hesitate to ask!

What drum carder do you own? Have you just started looking at them? I'd love to hear what you have to say! 

I will talk to you in the comments!

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Day of Spring

You know, I like Spring as much as the next person, especially when the weather cooperates. But you know what's the most exciting thing for The Elusive Thread when Spring has sprung?


These labels are the spring dawning here at The Elusive Thread. A mini celebration with the change of the seasons.  How do you celebrate changing seasons?

I'll talk to you in the comments. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I want to show you something. This is my third batch of handspinning, a present for a dear old friend.

Sunshine 3 ply
Fiber: Lisa Souza Superwash Merino in Squash Blossom
Spun worsted with a short forward draw
Ratios: Singles spun at 14:1 on Ashford Kiwi fast flyer set
           Plied at 10:1
Washed and Twacked to finish
Finished weight: 16-24 WPI with a few looser bits, roughly a light fingering weight yarn
I really like that there was a slight barberpole effect

As soon as I ran out of the first of the singles, I opted to switch to Navajo plying (I am getting better at this!!!)

           "Navajo Sunshine"

12-20 WPI, closer to a heavy fingering, light DK weight

I think if i were to do this again, I would want to do all the singles as a Navajo ply in order to preserve the color progression. I like that this one feels more solid, but I still think the barberpole effect on the 3 ply was really interesting and pretty.

So here is my question. Do you think there is a market for handspun? Are knitters still interested in buying yarns that are spun by someone else? Or is it just too expensive?

This is something I've been toying with for the shop. I can spin fairly evenly, and it might be a nice thing to add to the shop, but what do you think? It's obviously something that would only get updated once every two months or so, because of the time involved in spinning fiber. What do you think? Are you more interested in spinning for yourself, or would you consider buying handspun?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Emerald City Comicon 2011

I have spent the past three days at the Emerald City Comicon. I hope you understand that I am a total geek. And I've been having a blast.

I want to share these photos with you, because I want to prove that crafting can be found in unexpected places (then again...I craft, and have been knitting while at the ECCC...)

A girl was sharing a booth with another vendor, and she had taken to crocheting hats and amigurumi cuteness to sell. Before you freak: She is not violating any copyright laws. Trust me, I looked it up. Do you see the Cthulhu?! OMG CUTE!!!  and I love the pirates, TMNT, and also the Angry Birds cardinal. How cool is that?!

Second, and this is the piece de resistance for my entire weekend. You all know how wonderful Wil Wheaton is, from such wonders as The Guild and Big Bang Theory. You remember him from WootStock 2010. Well, Wil Wheaton has won the Badass Award for Complete Awesomeness. He held my knitting. 

Wil Wheaton Loves Knitters

If you look closely, at the bottom, another loving crafter made him a Wil Wheaton Doll. We love the gamer/crafter crossover! (and apologies for the fuzzy picture. I was only allowed one, and my dear SO didn't really know how to work my camera.)