Monday, December 16, 2013


The fiber prep continues, I've washed another batch of locks, dried them, and maybe more importantly processed the first batch of locks so they are ready to spin. Important for me, because as we all know I am easily distracted, likely to start something and the finally finish it in a year or two.

Washed lock

Washed lock, ready to process, sitting on a piece of veggy tanned leather, most people have a sturdy peice of vinyl, leather or plastic, even a clean dry dedicated chopping board would work. I like th leather, it's natural, thick (about 4mm) and ever so slightly squishy. The purpose of the leather is two fold, one to protect the work surface from the sharp scratchy wire tines of the flick carder, and two, to muffle the noise of flick carding.

Washed locks with tips cut off

The next stage for me, and this is entirely optional, was trimming away the sun bleached tips, I had two reasons for doing this first they were tinged with golden brown, and likely to dilute the soft mid grey of the fiber when I spun. And second, as bleached tips, these had had more environmental damage and were older than the rest of the lock, so more likely to break and pill - removing the bleached tips is kind of like extra optional insurance against pilling.

Lock with flick carder

Here is the flick carder, this one is an Ashford, but there are other brands out there. Some people use a metal dog comb ... but I'm not doing that here. Flick carder shown for scale.

A few bounces of the carder

The action flick carding is usually described as 'bouncing' not brushing or combing the fiber. It took me a long time to work out what was meant by bouncing or tapping the brush on the lock. A long time, cause I'm slow sometimes. And I might not be right about this, it's just what I've found works and what seems to fit with what I've been told and read.

Direction of flicking

This rather simple diagram shows the path of the flick carder, when I started processing this batch of fiber I looked on youtube, and found several tutorials showing people brushing the fiber. Brushing, they held the lock tightly at the cut end and pulled the flick carder through the tips. Then I consulted my small collection of spinning books and they most definitely stated to bounce the flick carder on the locks not brush the locks. So I played and developed a method that to me is bouncing or flicking. I hold the locks firmly by the cut end, and hold the flick carder lightly and bounce it near the tip of the locks. The bounce is diagonal, the downward stroke diagonally towards the tips, the upward stroke pulling ever so slightly away from the landing point. The slight pull or tug as the flick carder lifts away is enough to gently open up the locks a little. This shows the lock after four or five bounces.

After ten flicks

Here is the lock after another five bounces, ten in total, .. Note how fluffy it is, much more open.


15 flicks - all opened up

And after another five bounces, a total of fifteen bounces and the lock is really open and fluffy. This bouncing is very easy on the hands and wrists, as the flick carder is held lightly and there is no need to grip and tug and pull as one would do if brushing the locks.

Lock flipped, so cut end presented

Then the lock is flipped over, so the cut end is free, the bushy tips are bunched up and held securely under the fingertips.


Cut end flicked five times

The cut end is bounced, first five times, and this second flicking of the lock seems to go faster. I guess as the lock is already opened up, it is ' more ready'?

Cut end flicked ten times

After ten bounces ...

Cut end flicked fifteen times

And after a total of fifteen bounces at the cut end. Totally fluffy and ready to put aside and process the next lock. What I haven't shown is that flick carding knocks loose a huge amount of vm, and dirt, and small brocken fibers, it cleans the locks wonderfully.

I then stacked the locks in a box, keeping the tip end up, but that was overly cautious as I went on to drum card the first batch. Drum carding mixes the fibers up, and allows even more dust, dry dirt and vm to fall out. The flick carded locks were perfectly prepared for drum carding, all open and light and ready to feed in. As I worked I realised thee locks ar short, maybe two and a bit inches, so better suitd to a woolen prep - hence the decision to drum card.

And that concludes my mini photo tutorial on flick carding, ymmv, this works for me, and fits with what I know.

Take care, na Stella.


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