So I’m having a dilemma. I’ve come to a crossroads.
My goal this year is to work the Fiber side of my alpaca business. To that end, I have tried new things. I have begun to knit again. I’ve learned to dye my fiber and yarn, and I’ve even tried Spinning. The idea was to try the different things and see what I liked and what I could live without.
I’ve discovered that I LOVE dyeing fiber the best, and wet felting it the least. In my fiber dreams I would love to create beautiful, colorful batts the way that Loop and Hobbledehoy do. Only my batts would be alpaca because alpacas are my life! *Sigh*
I thought I was well on my way to doing this when I learned that:
- I have the wrong kind of drum carder. Mine is not designed for fine alpaca fleece . (I cluelessly bought it about 9 years ago from an alpaca breeder and never used it.)
- I need a picker. Badly. To help with the process.
I did learn to wash the fleece, and that’s good. I also found this cool drying device that allows me to dry fleece indoors quickly.
I love it and it was 75% off!
Before I go much farther with my tale, I have to mention that we harvest at least 300 lbs. of fleece each Spring at Fairhope Alpacas. I have been advised by my friend and Fiber Artist Sherry that I really need commercial equipment.
I know that I will need that. When we relocate the farm I will set up a Fiber Studio where I can have all the equipment and fiber, but for now, space is an issue. So we’ll hold off on investing in the big machines.
First I will get a picker. Then I want to get a drum carder. My dilemma is whether I should just fly way ahead to the Supercard (which will require some saving too) or if I should start with a smaller fine toothed drum carder.
A few of the smaller/non-commercial ones that have been recommended have been Deb’s Delicate Deluxe and those made by Strauch. Strauch even has a page on their website – Which Drum Carder is Best for Me? Alpaca Meadows sells carders on their website.
Sherry recommends a chain drive over a belt drive. I am seriously considering a motorized version. Hmm. That almost takes me back to the Supercard. But then space is an issue again…
While I hem and haw, please chime in and let me know your thoughts. I welcome all the input I can get! My biggest questions are:
- What drum carders have you used that you liked/disliked?
- What (if anything) can you do with a smaller carder that cannot be done with the larger ones?
- What benefits do you see to the various carders?
- What else do I need to keep in mind?