Last year I bought a second-hand, but unused, Barnett drum carder. Thanks to Louise Spong of South Downs Yarn and her eagerness to see the effects of drum carding on Southdown fleece, I was given the necessary incentive to get the drum carder set up and at last I have finally got round to trying it out on the prize-winning local Southdown fleece I bought at Findon Sheep Fair..
Washed Southdown fleece ready for the drum carder
The drum carder in action. I think I may have introduced too much fleece at once onto the drum. This would be typical of my rather impatient nature, I fear!
Batts from the drum carder ready for spinning. They are probably not the best carded batts ever produced and should, I think, be smoother and finer.
These skeins have been handspun from the drum-carded Southdown fleece batts above and the ball of wool was handspun from commercially-produced Southdown tops.
I suspect I need to practise more in order to produce better batts, as better batts should produce a more even yarn with fewer lumps and bumps – unless one wants lumps and bumps, of course.
I have become quite enthusiastic about Southdown fleece. Although the staple length is usually fairly short, carding produces fleece which can easily be handspun and produces a yarn which is soft, lofty and bouncy. Other advantages of yarn from Southdown fleece are that it dyes extremely well and it doesn’t tend to felt or “pill”.
I get particular pleasure from working with fleece from the sheep which have for centuries roamed the South Downs near my home in Sussex, especially when I can buy local Southdown fleeces from the sheep I can see in the fields around my village.