Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Care and Feeding of Carders

Henry and Roy Clemes came by the guild last night to talk about fiber preparation.

Sure I say that better spinning is the best competitive advantage in textiles, but better spinning demands better fiber preparation.

At this point, they know more about the universe of spinning fibers than anyone else.  Like other great artisans, they wanted better tools and they designed and built them. Other spinners have done this, but Henry and Roy went a step farther and really listened to their customers, so their tools have design features that go far beyond anything else on the market. They make tools that are the very best in their class.

Their (Elite) electric carder is the best carder on the market for making 100 gram batts. I happen to like my old Clemes and Clems hand carder with its shorter teeth for the thinner 48 gram batts that I want  for kind of spinning that I do.  However, for spinning slightly thicker yarns, their new Elite is the carding tool of choice.

Some might opt for a wider carder, but hand spinning works with small units of fiber at a time. In the context of hand spinning, an 8" x 22" batt is too big to feed into the orifice as is and a 16" wide batt is no easier to feed into the orifice.  For production of artisan quality batts with good uniform color ways, the Clemes and Clemes electric carder stands by itself with no superior and no peer.

Then, having made a set of batts with a uniform color way, the artisan is faced with storing them until they can be spun (or sold). Clemes and Clemes  have solved this problem with their batt removal and storage system.

Readers know I am a fanatic for freshly prepped fiber.  Clemes and Clemes offer a way to store prepared fiber in a minimum amount of space with a minimum amount of matting, and damage to the batts.  It is brilliant.  It allows making a set of uniform batts and safely storing them until they can be spun (or sold).  I rather expect this to become the standard packaging for fine batts of spinning fiber.

It is a new product that is not fully detailed on their web site yet, so be patient.  It is coming, and it is worth the wait.

What do I dislike about Clemes and Clemes?  They tell me, that the olive oil based spinning oil that I use, will rot the rubber that holds the carding pins.  They are the the kind of guys that tell the truth -- even if the customer is not real eager to hear the truth.  The rubber bed is why all wool going into a drum carder should be clean and free of lanolin. That is a serious truth that some spinners do not want to hear.  And, to get the wool free of lanolin, it needs to be washed at 140F or hotter (if you are using detergents).  That is hotter than for the old "washing soda"/ alkali  process.

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