Caring for Your Strauch Drum Carder

Occasionally we receive calls from customers saying that the pins on the large drum are bending or breaking off. This lowers the life expectancy of your drum carder, and can cause difficulties during the carding process. There are two primary causes for this situation, but fear not, we have solutions to keep your carder in good health!

Issue 1: The Drums are Touching

Most of the time it’s that the drums (the infeed drum and the large drum) are touching each other. It’s important that the two drums DO NOT touch. This is often indicated by a “crunching” noise as you card. This inter-meshing of pins causes the “ripping” action, and can break pins off or bend them severely.

The Solution!

Remember the booklet that came with your drum carder? In it, you’ll find instructions on how to adjust the drum spacing, or you can watch the video below featuring our Petite drum carder. Don’t worry if you lost your manual – we have PDF versions for each model here on our website: http://www.strauchfiber.com/help/operation-manuals.php.

If you ignore the noise, here’s what’s going to happen:

Pin damage from drums touching

Yikes! Better set aside a few minutes to do a routine drum check before your next carding session!

Issue 2: Improper use of the Doffer Brush

The second cause of pin loss is improper use of the doffer brush used to clean the large drum – this should ALWAYS be in a downward motion. If you take a closer look at the drum, you will notice that all of the pins curve downward. Hence, so should your movement when using the doffer brush. If it helps, think of this as “going with the grain.”

Correct doffing

Moving the doffer sideways or upwards (or against the grain, if you prefer) will bend the pins and could even result in breakage.

Incorrect doffing Incorrect doffing

We have more videos on YouTube demonstrating how to use your doffer brush, and please subscribe while you’re there!

Posted in Strauch Products | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Felt in a Jar

How to Felt in a Jar

Do you love felting but don’t like getting your hands wet, or you want to conserve water? Try felting in a jar!

We love all things fiber here at Strauch, and people ask us all the time what they can do with the fiber that gets blended on a drum carder that isn’t spinning related. Felting is one of those things you can do whether or not you know how to spin. We thought it would also be fun to come up with a craft that you could do with kids, with relatively low mess and high amounts of fun.

Supplies:

Roving pulled from your drum carder, or skinny strips pulled off of a batt.

Plastic Jar – think about reusing a clean peanut butter jar.

Marbles – one small bag from the craft store should be sufficient.

Directions:

First, tie a 4″ section of fiber into a knot and tuck in the ends, this will give you a rough ball shape.

Rounded ball of fiber

Fill your jar with your marbles, and pour a couple of ounces of Hot Water (not too hot if you’re working with kiddos) and add a drop of dish soap. It’s important that the water doesn’t cover the marbles, as too much water will make the felting process take longer.

fiber in the jar

Shake vigorously for 5-10 minutes, checking every couple of minutes to see the progress of the felting. You may have to take out the felted ball periodically to encourage the shaping.

Whammo! You have a felted ball.

It may be possible to make up to 3 felted balls at a time, just keep an eye on them as you shake so they do not stick to each other. For projects to make with felted balls try this necklace or mobile!

felted ball

If you liked this tutorial, we’d love for you to pin it on Pinterest! Don’t forget to share your creations with us on Instagram using the hashtag #strauchfiber.

Jar felting Banner for Pinterest

Posted in Fiber | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun with Fluff: 3 New Video Tutorials

We love sharing free tutorials with you on our YouTube channel, where we also post behind-the-scenes peeks and other fibery tips, tricks, and maintenance instructions that you can refer back to again and again. We’ve just added 2 new videos to help you explore new ways of processing fiber this year, plus a tutorial to help you manage slippery yarn (you know the ones we’re talking about) on your ball winder.

First up, we have a hand-carding video where Joanne learns Liz’s carding technique using Strauch hand cards.  Liz is one of our awesome team members here at Strauch, and a phenomenal spinner. Hand cards are a great introduction into carding since they are more affordable than drum carders – they are also good for portable projects, as they don’t take up much space and are fairly lightweight.

For anyone who’s wanted to spin with angora fiber but just didn’t know where to start, this next video is for you! This video shows you how quick and easy it is to card angora on the Finest and the Petite drum carders. Angora is an extremely fine fiber, but as you’ll see, that isn’t a problem for our drum carders!

If you’re having trouble with slippery yarns when you’re winding your yarn into a ball, then watch this video on winding a skein of superwash merino yarn on our ball winder.

For more helpful tips like this, subscribe to our channel for notifications when new videos are added. If you have suggestions for videos, we’d love to hear them. Write a note down in the comments below on what you’d like to see!

Posted in Strauch Products | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Ways to Fix a Busted Stash

Often we go through our stash at the end of the year and try to “stash-down,” using as much spinning fiber as we can before the new year. Then at a certain point, the horrifying realization sets in: I have nothing in my stash….

Fear not! Here are a few ways to “stash-up.”

1. Monthly Subscription for Fiber

If you’re looking for base fibers to blend, then a monthly subscription service may be for you.

Companies like Spunky Eclectic Fibers in Maine have a monthly mystery club that you can sign up for in different increments (4oz, 8oz, etc.); in the middle of each month, a little bundle of fiber joy arrives on your doorstep! They also carry handpainted top, roving and bulk undyed fiber, if that is more your speed.

Spinning Box is another subscription service that compiles fiber, batts, rolags and more from many fiber arts into themed boxes each month. You are guaranteed 3/4 lb. fiber total, and from time to time, each month has a mini fiber-focus.

2. Go to Your Local Stock Show or Farm

The start of the year is when many regional shows happen, such as the National Western Stock Show which took place a couple of weekends ago in Denver, CO. There are usually a few high-quality fleeces on display and for sale  at these shows.

Another option is to ask farms that are local to you when their shearing days are – not only will you be  supporting a local business, you might also get to witness the shearing itself!

 

3. Swap Meet

Are you in a guild or a spinning group on Ravelry? There are sometimes chances for you to swap unused fiber lurking in your stash for something that is exciting and new…at least, to you! This kind of swap gives you the opportunity to trade fiber with other spinners.

Every year there is an informal event called FibreShare that pairs people up who sign up for it, and you swap fiber, yarn, notions etc with your partner. This helps build community with other fiber artists, and can introduce you to new brands!

 

4. Don’t Forget the Add-ins

If you’re a batt maker, it’s sometimes easy to forget to stock back up on the additives that you sprinkle in your batts.

Camaj Fiber Arts (a Strauch Drum Carder user) has lots of silk fibers that are beautifully dyed, just waiting to be used in a batt.

 

There a many more options out there to bulk up your stash, what are a few of your favorite ways? Share in the comments below! Why don’t you flash your stash with your drum carder over on Instagram and tag it with #StrauchFiber and we’ll share it on our page in the coming weeks!

Posted in Fiber | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peacock Batt – Blending Tutorial

Inspiration is everywhere, and today we want to show how to turn your ideas into reality.

The jumping off point for this tutorial is a peacock feather. It can be notoriously difficult to capture their beauty and shine, and all of the stunning jewel tones. Here’s how you can create your own stunning version by blending multiple fibers together into a batt.

Here’s what you’ll need for a 1 ounce batt:

1/2 ounce black fiber, divided into thirds

1/4 ounce bright green

1/8 ounce bright blue

1/8 ounce purple

dash of auburn

1 peacock feather cut into individual pieces

Drum Carder – This tutorial used a Petite

supplies

First start with a base of black, about 1/3 of your black fiber. This helps the eye see the intense colors better later.

Once that is on the carder, layer your bright blue and purple fiber. Feed them on slowly until you’ve added all of the color.

Cover that with another thin layer of black fiber (about 1/3 of your black fiber).

Next, take the bright green fiber (this particular blend has some sparkle that really helps the shimmer effect) and feed it onto the carder.

Finish with another layer of black (your final 1/3 of fiber).

blue and purple

Pull this batt off of your drum carder and split it in fourths lengthwise.

quarters

Take one fourth and pass it through the drum carder while adding some small bits of auburn.

When you’ve gotten that onto the drum, start adding the small peacock feather cuttings while blending the other 3 sections, one at a time. It’s best to sandwich the feather bits in between two thin layers of fiber (much like our yarn-bit-tweed tutorial). This prevents the carder from rejecting them.

Once you’ve passed all the fiber through, you’re done!

square feather and yarn

Why not take inspiration from something lying around your studio? Share it with us on Instagram with the hashtag #strauchfiber, and we may share your colorful project!

Posted in Fiber | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artist Profile: Sara Renzulli – Sarafina Fiber Art

We recently came across the Sarafina Fiber Art website, and have fallen in love with her work. Sara Renzulli, owner and operator of Sarafina Fiber Art, works with wool roving to create felted creatures from fanciful to very realistic. Sara’s vivaciousness and joy for life is seen in all of her work. The detail in each piece is striking, and shows her love for everything she makes.

Gnome with Forest Friends

Photo credit: Sarafina Fiber Art

Sara uses Strauch drum carders to blend her wool for needle-felting kits that she sells on her website. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced needle-felter, you can find anything that you need.

Sara specializes in creating animals, and brings them to life with humor, wit, and an immense amount of talent. Her skills elevate her felted figurines to a life-like state, complete with a sparkle in their eyes.

Felted Hare from Sarafina Fiber Art

Photo credit: Sarafina Fiber Art

Sara and her team also produce tutorial videos on her YouTube channel. With over 100 tutorial videos, there is a ton of content for for felters to watch and try out! These videos are very well done, and with the skills that you can learn, there is nothing you can’t create! You can find digital downloads of these tutorials on her website.

If you are new to needle felting, you can start with this intro video from her YouTube channel!

Give Sarafina Fiber Art some love over on her Facebook and Instagram, and tell her that Strauch sent you!

Posted in Fiber | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Color Palette Blending

If you’ve been following our Pinterest boards, you’ll know that we have a board dedicated to color palettes. Today’s post will show you how to use these color palettes to blend fibers on your Strauch drum carder.

Here we have started with a warm-tone color palette, taken from this picture of a cord of wood.

This technique is great for stashbusting, taking small amounts of fiber and mixing them together to create a larger batt.

First, take some colors that are represented in the photo. You can use the swatches on the bottom of the color palette as a reference, but feel free to mix and match depending what you have in stash.

fiber palette

Then, start by blending each color in layers.

blending

Remove this batt, split it in half lengthwise, save one half as is, then take the other half and split it into thirds lengthwise, and run them through the carder with the edge facing up, being sure to line up the colors as you blend.

reblending

This technique will give you a long gradient that you can spin one single from, and then a more variegated single from the other batt.

batt layers

If you try out this technique, please share your pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #Strauchfiber.

Posted in Fiber, Strauch Products | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Walking in a Wooly Wonderland

Last November we brought you three fun and easy projects to make with wool roving, and we decided that we’d like to continue that holiday tradition with this post. With our button diz and any of our drum carders, you can pull off your own wool roving in any color that you have decided to blend!

First up, get warmed up by playing in the water! Learn how to create these wet-felted mittens from Crafting a Fibre Life. These would be a great last-minute gift that you could make between now and Christmas.

 

Cardinals are messengers of Winter in parts of North America. Bring one to life in your home this snowy season by felting one yourself! This tutorial from Lia Griffith is both visually stunning and extremely well-done.

If birds aren’t the only flying fancies you enjoy, and faeries are more your speed, you can create your own custom faeries by following this tutorial from Creativity in Pieces.

 

If you liked these felted giftables, and would like more roving inspiration, head over to our Pinterest board devoted to the wonderful world of wool! Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and Facebook with your projects using #StrauchFiber.

Posted in Fiber | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SAFF 2016 Recap

Recently, at the end of October, we made our way to SAFF. The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair is always busy, and we love to meet the vendors and customers alike. Here’s a little photo journey of our trip!

 

Set-up day!

daviscenter

 

The car is unloaded and we’re ready to start setting up. Joanne is happily taking a break.

setupbooth

 

Look how many vendors were in the hall!

vendors

 

Our finished booth looked great. We’re ready to start demoing now!

setupdone

 

After a busy day of vending, we were happy to stop by Sierra Nevada Brewing.

sierrenevadebrewing

 

Did you go to SAFF? Did you see us there? If you did, don’t forget to post them on social media and tag your posts with #StrauchFiber.

See you next year!

Posted in About Strauch, Shows, Strauch Products | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Blending Experiment

How many sheep does it take to spin a batt? Who knows! Let’s look at a question that is much easier to answer. How many passes through a carder does it take to get a homogenous mixture?

black and white roving on a Petite Drum Carder

Starting with equal parts black alpaca roving and white merino roving (about half an ounce each) we passed them through the carder together, alternating chunks of black and white, and then split the batts and passed them through in pieces until we had a batt that was mostly consistent all the way through.

Three passes did a pretty good job at making a consistently colored batt, with a fourth pass making it much more homogenous. One of the great aspects of Strauch carders is how gentle it is with fiber. After being passed through FOUR times, the fiber still looked nice, and not nepped up. If you look below at the finished batt, along with the two initial fibers, you can see the nice 50/50 blend created a lovely charcoal grey.

IMG_2720

Try your own carding experiments, and share them with us on social media using #strauchfiber.

Posted in Fiber | Tagged , , | Leave a comment