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.

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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!

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

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Look how many vendors were in the hall!

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

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

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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!

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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.

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

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5 Drum Carder Videos You Need to Watch

You may have noticed that we have been posting more videos recently, but did you know that we have a whole YouTube channel devoted to our products and how to use them?

In this blog post we will share 5 videos about our drum carders that will help you get to know your carder better! Two of the videos are specific to the Petite Drum Carder whereas the other three videos can apply to any of our carders.

This first video is essential to know for any new or experienced carder owner. Knowing how to properly install your tray will make sure that the fiber feeds on perfectly every time.

 

Over time and use, it may become necessary to adjust the drum spacing. On the Petite Drum Carder, it is very easy.

 

Once you get your drum carder all set up for proper use, here are a couple of videos on how to remove your fiber for various preps; a full batt, rolags, and roving.

Removing a full batt

 

Making Rolags

 

Pulling roving off of the carder

 

If you want to receive notifications when we upload new videos, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. We are always adding new content on how to use our products.

Is there anything in particular that you would like to see? If so, please leave a comment down below to let us know!

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Stash Busting Batts

It is no secret that most fiber people have stashes: fiber, yarn, equipment, whatever it might be. Often, we just don’t know what to do with that stash. Many times it’s either the wrong color, or you don’t have enough for the project you have in mind.

Yarn-stashers have specific patterns that cater to using up stash; mitered-square blankets, small ornaments, and so on. Fiber-stashers don’t always have that kind of pattern support, but they do have access to some super-effective tools that can assist in quest for using the stash.

In our YouTube video, Lawre shows us how she maximizes her stash by blending small quantities of fiber together.

Here’s another idea, not only can you blend fibers together, but if you have some mini skeins of yarn that you just don’t know what to do with them, you can utilize them in batt making!

Start by gathering some stash fiber for a base, a few small skeins of leftover yarn, and your drum carder.

Then cut up your mini skeins into approximately half-inch bits.

cut up nubbins

Sandwich those yarn bits inside two thin layers of your base fiber and start carding.

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Do a second pass of the batt to thoroughly blend the yarn bits into the fiber.

finished stash batt

We recommend using yarn that is a similar fiber-type to your base fiber, so the yarn bits adhere better to the fiber.

This batt will create a lovely tweed yarn when spun.

What kind of stash-busting batts will you make? Share it with us on our Facebook page and on Instagram!

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Time Management During Spinzilla

During Spinzilla, it can be easy to think that time is getting away from you. With only 7 days to spin as much yarn as you possibly can, it can feel daunting to get everything done. Here are 6 tips to maximize your yardage during Spinzilla.

1. Plan what you want to spin

This may seem limiting at first, but it’s only for a week’s worth of time. Spinzilla is great for big projects. Are you carding a special blend of fiber for a sweater project? Perfect! Spin that and only that for the week. Choosing one fiber/prep style will make it easier on you during the week, as you’ll get used to spinning that particular yarn. Remember, spinning and plying counts, so it doesn’t hurt to ply your yarn as you go. This will give you skeins of finished yarn at the end of the week!

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2. Plan how much fiber you’ll need

It’s easy to think “Oh I will have enough fiber to last me the week.” However, it can be surprising how much fiber you can blow through during a week of non-stop spinning! Here’s how to figure out what you’ll need.

Look at your week and figure out how much time you plan to be spinning during the course of the competition.

If you have an hour to spare before Spinzilla starts, sit down at your wheel (or spindle) and measure how many ounces you can spin during that hour.

Here’s an easy formula to calculate how much fiber you will need during Spinzilla.

How many ounces you will need for the week = X (measured in ounces)

Time it takes to spin 1 oz of fiber = (Y measured in ounces/hr)

How much time you’ll have to spin during spinzilla = (Z measured in hours)

X = Y * Z

X = .75 oz/hr * 30 hrs

X = 22.5 ounces of fiber needed for the week of spinning.

Buy this much fiber and some extra so you don’t need to rush and get more fiber during the week.

3. Prep your fiber before Spinzilla starts

Read our previous post, on how to prepare your fiber beforehand to maximize your spinning time. The right prep equipment is essential to make sure that you get the best fiber preparation. This blog post has a bunch of great ideas on how to prep certain fibers for the best results!

This heathered blue batt was made easily on the Strauch Petite Drum Carder.

4. Schedule your spinning time

This may sound a little intense, but like many things in life, if you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. This also helps people who need to balance spinning with other life-essentials like family events, work, eating… etc. Post a small calendar for the week marking off your spinning time. If you don’t have a ton of time with your current schedule, think about waking up 15 minutes earlier or staying up 15 minutes later and spin. Spinning is a great meditative way to wake up or prepare for sleeping. It’s low impact and quiet, perfect for those times of day that need a bit more mindfulness.

5. Spin with friends

As anyone who has ever had evening with friends knows, time can go by in an instant without your knowledge. Often times we can actually accomplish more when we are having a good time, and a little friendly competition during spin-night isn’t the worst way to bump up your yardage.

 

6. Take care of yourself

Though this is number 6 on the list, it may be the most important. Be sure to take frequent breaks, and take the time to stretch your hands. A helpful guide can be downloaded from the Woolery here. If you injure yourself with a repeated stress injury (RSI) during the week, then it makes the whole competition a moot point. Take care of yourself so you can spin more!

Good hand-health is great!

These 6 tips are just a few of the ways you can maximize your spinning time during Spinzilla. What are some of your favorite ways to manage your time? Share them with us on Facebook and Instagram!

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Spinzilla Blog Tour: Prep Now, Spin Later

Welcome to our blog! As a new Bison sponsor for Spinzilla, we are looking forward to this October’s event to see which team can spin the most yarn. Seasoned Spinzilla spinners probably know that fiber prep ahead of time is key to racking up those Monster Miles – and we have the best-made tools around to get the job done:

The Strauch Story began in 1991 as a hobby making hand crafted floor Swift/Skeinwinders. This grew, prompting an expansion in March of 2000 , when we purchased the drum carding portion of a small west coast company and formed the Strauch Fiber Equipment Co. We made several improvements to the original drum carder design, and the series of Strauch drum carders have now become known as “The Standard of the Industry.”

The Strauch team is dedicated to quality & craftsmanship.

The Strauch team is dedicated to quality & craftsmanship.

 

 

If you’re looking to prepare your fiber ahead of time, you can’t go wrong with batts. They’re fun to make and easy to store for spinning at a later date – just make sure they don’t get compressed while waiting for Spinzilla to arrive. Simply put, a well-carded batt is a pleasure to spin from. In terms of spinning production, it’s a dream: the fibers are already opened up and easy to spin, and you don’t have to spend time predrafting as you would with a prepared top or roving. Those batts will quickly turn into singles and fill up those bobbins!

Finished Batt on a Strauch Petite Drum Carder.

Finished Batt on a Strauch Finest Drum Carder.

If you have roving or fleece that has been compacted while in storage, using a Strauch drum carder to process those fibers into a batt can breathe new life into your fiber stash (click here to get inspired with this tutorial video featuring the Mad Batt’r). Fine fibers, which can sometimes be a challenge to spin due to their short staple length and often slippery nature, can benefit from being blended with other easier-to-spin fibers when you have a need for speed, but still want your finished yarn to be soft and luxurious.

Color & Sparkle.

Color & Sparkle.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to making batts; you are really only limited by the fibers you have available, and your imagination! We have lots of tutorials and tips to help you get started here on our YouTube channel.

 

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Carding Alpaca

Recently, we’ve been focusing on carding alpaca fiber. The beautiful long staple length of alpaca is incredibly warm and soft, and ideal for a variety of projects. Alpaca is a fiber that benefits from proper prep. Drape is the characteristic that its best known for, so avoiding damage during preparation is important. Blending in other fibers, especially wool, will make alpaca fibers easier to spin, especially for newer spinners (just make sure the wool is compatible). Some non-wool fibers to try blending in with alpaca are mohair, silk, or angora rabbit.

If you’re interested in carding alpaca on your Strauch carder, be sure to take a look at our new Alpaca carding Youtube video. If you have requests for more videos or questions, feel free to leave a comment on the Youtube video.

And if you’re interested in blending alpaca with wool, here’s a great video featuring Liz.

Check out our show schedule, we also demo with alpaca fiber at many shows! A heartfelt thank you to Mike and Debbie Vigus of West Penn Aplacas for donating both a huycaya and suri fleece for us to use at fiber shows. We washed these beautiful fleeces and are using the fiber to demonstrate how easily the Strauch drum carder processes the fiber into lovely, thick batts!

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Alpaca Facta

Customers tell us that the Strauch carder is the best drum carder on the market. We’ve spent a lot of time and hard work into creating this ideal machine. Strauch drum carders are great for carding a variety of fibers, from long to short, coarse to fine, or from cashmere to dog hair. But today, we’re talking about why the Strauch drum carders are great for alpaca fiber!

Why card alpaca?

  • Alpaca is a fiber that benefits from proper prep.
  • Drape is the characteristic that its best known for, so avoiding damage in preparation is important.
  • Blending in other fibers, especially wool, will make alpaca fibers easier to spin, especially for newer spinners (just make sure the wool is compatible).
  • For at-home spinners, here are some non-wool fibers to try blending in with alpaca: mohair, silk, or angora rabbit.

Strauch Fiber Equipment - alpaca facts
If you’re an alpaca farmer, and you’re not processing your fiber, you’re missing out!

  • Think about the added value: your animals can make money rather than being an added expense, especially it’s so easy to process individual fleece from your prized animals.
  • Our motorized doublewide carder makes fleece processing fast and easy.
  • Don’t throw away those “thirds”. These bits of fiber can be used to make felted pads, dryer balls, and more. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Have you carded alpaca on your Strauch carder? We’d love to hear about your experience and see photos! Share them with us on Ravelry or Facebook.

 

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Shop Highlight: Spinnvilt

We’re thrilled to have a new shop carrying Strauch drum carders, ball winders and swifts/skeinwinders! Located in Oslo, Norway, we love this beautiful shop!

webButikk01 Owners Eirik and Tove are skilled weavers and spinners, with degrees in textile arts. webButikk06-sm They have a curated collection of the finest tools and materials for hand spinning, which wouldn’t be complete with Strauch drum carders and hand carders!
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If you’re in Norway we recommend you stop by and visit Spinnvilt. Our  jumbo ball winder is ready to try out. You can learn more about them on their website: spinnvilt.no (and if you use Chrome for your browser you can take advantage of the translate plugin!)

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