Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Saturday, November 15, 2003  

To Spend or Not To Spend

Amber asks how one might justify the expense of a drum carder and I shall try to do so here. After all, I need to present my case to BD one of these days.

The drum carder I want is the Fricke, largely because I like those curved teeth on the drum cloth. The darn things cost $600. That’s half again as much as I paid for HeyBaby - though there is a small one I could get for about $300 - an amount of money I could probably scrape together. The smaller one may also be a realistic size for my house and the amount of carding I’m likely to do. I don’t have plans for custom carding fibers - at the moment.

So what can I do with a drum carder? Ahhh. Well. The two main things are fiber blending and color blending. I thoroughly enjoy hand carding rolags. In fact, they are my favorite preparation, because they make light airy fluffy thick even yarn easier than any other prepared fibers. But carding enough rolags for a sweater is a monumental commitment of time. I am slowly working my way through my luscious corriadale fleece, bought at the Md. Sheep & Wool. I am determined to spin it from rolags - but now and then I think of shipping the whole baby off to Zeilingers and letting them convert it into a batt.

With a drum carder, I could make my own batt - and though I think Z is a great company with reasonable prices and fast turnaround - I could drum card enough wool for a sweater for myself and thoroughly enjoy it.

So - hand cards are slow. Drum carder is lots faster and I still get to do the work myself.

I love blending - both colors and fibers. A drum card is an efficient and speedy way to do either. Have some itchy wool? Blend in a little merino. Not enough fiber? Combine two. Want more drape in your project? Add silk. Hand cards are great for samples, but, again, blending enough for an entire project would add another 2 months to the project, given my schedule. And the issue of even, consistent blending would still have to be dealt with.

Color blending is even more exciting with a drum carder. Do, please, watch Deb Menz’s video on color blending techniques with a drum carder. When I saw her stack those 10 bats on top of each other and then pull out a length of fiber my mouth actually watered. In fact, it was while watching her draft out that enormous pile of different colored fibers that I knew my fate was sealed. One fleece - so many possibilities.

There is a slight monetary advantage to working with raw fleece. Just as spinning your own yarn allows you to work with high end fibers at about half the cost, beginning with a fleece allows you to cut the costs even further. Of course, you have to factor in all that extra time, and if what you are really wanting to do is knit, you’re probably better off just going to a yarn store. After all, there are hundreds of different, beautiful, colorful yarns out there already.

The $$$ issue, for any hobby, really is - do you have this much extra cash to spend? I can’t imagine any justification for spending money you don’t have, on anything - especially if you are buying a hobby tool. But neither do I accept the argument that “It’ll never pay for itself.” That’s not why I play with fiber. It’s also not why I spend money. I spend money to make my life better. Some of that money goes for essentials like food and shelter. Some goes for pleasure, like fiber toys. And usually, if I don’t have enough $$$ for something, I just save up for it - and do without other things. Many’s the months I have packed lunches and eaten black beans and rice for supper, so I could afford luxurious excess in other areas of my life.

To recap:

Drum carders are faster than hand cards
Drum cards combine fibers better (faster, more evenly) than any other method
Drum cards combine colors in a unique way as well as faster and more evenly than hand preparations
You have the option to create truly unique combinations of fibers and colors
Fleece is less expensive per pound than prepared fibers

Drum carders cost like fury - $600 = about 25 lbs of merino top or 85 balls of Aurora8 or 65 balls of Noro Kureon
Drum carders are heavy and need table space

So - the real question becomes - what is it I want to do? If it’s knitting - buy yarn. If it’s spinning - buy rovings or top or whatever. If it’s messing about with fiber, though - if you have a fiber idea or a color concept you want to experiment with - if you don’t really care that much about what, or, more importantly, when you actually put on that sweater, ahhhh - well, in for a sheep, right? Might as well move to the country straight away. Seems to me I hear that flock baaaing right this minute.

posted by Bess | 6:49 AM