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!

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

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.

layered

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!

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

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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!

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

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.

 

Posted in About Strauch, Fiber, Spinzilla | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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!

2016-04-02_004

Posted in Fiber | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

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

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!
webStrauch

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!)

Posted in Shops | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Oh, The Places We’ve Been

We’ve traveled quite a bit recently to various shops, fiber festival and retreats; if you’ve missed seeing us, here’s a quick recap of how we spent our spring!

On our way to the PlyAway Spinning Retreat in April, we stopped by one of our retailers, The Smoky Mountain Spinnery. It is a wonderful little shop located in Gatlinburg, TN.

IMG_0099

The owner, Nancy Thompson, has such a beautiful store.The owner, Nancy Thompson, in her beautiful store.

IMG_0093Joanne loves to check out new sources of fiber goodies.

Strauch Fiber Equipment on Display at The Smoky Mountain SpinneryStrauch Fiber Equipment products are on display at Smoky Mountain Spinnery.

Then we arrived in Kansas City for the first-ever Ply Away Spinning Retreat. Here are a few photos from our time there; you can view our full recap here if you missed it.

Ply Away Spinning Retreat - Strauch Fiber Equipment BlogEven before the retreat starts, spinners and fiber artists are gathering in the hotel lobby.

Set-up at Ply Away - Strauch FiberSet-up day always looks more chaotic than it actually is.

Strauch Fiber Equipment at PlyAway Spinning RetreatJoanne in our booth – it’s all set up!

After Kansas City, we headed up to Maryland for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, where we gave live demos of our products in the Carolina Homespun booth.

Set up at Maryland Sheep and WoolSetting up at MDSW.

IMG_0137So many shoppers and fiber fans!

IMG_0144Food vendors on the fairway kept us going all weekend long.

IMG_0138Customers who purchased skeins of yarn are invited to use our jumbo ball winder and Swift/skeinwinder.

IMG_0141It’s so cool to see children taking an interest in the fiber arts!

After Maryland, we headed down to Lexington for the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival.

IMG_1768 (1)It was our pleasure to be sharing a booth with The Woolery (Located in Frankfort, KY) again this year.

IMG_1767Several of our products are ready for live demos!

IMG_1772Joanne shows interested fiber artists the joys of our motorized Finest Drum Carder.

IMG_1770Demonstrating how easy it is to use a diz to pull fiber off of a Strauch Drum Carder!

We had a great time in all of our travels this spring. Did you see us at any of these events? Let us know in the comments below. Click here to view our full 2016 schedule of events to find out where you can see us next!

Posted in About Strauch, Shops, Shows | Leave a comment

A Fine Time With The 100th Sheep

Back in April, the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center (EVFAC) held an open house to introduce their new crowd-funded Motorized Double-Wide Finest carder.

Flyer used to advertise the open house

EVFAC’s member-driven community connects fiber artists, enthusiasts and visitors with educational opportunities, special events, facility and equipment rental, and more. Our “high tech” carder is an important addition to their equipment library, allowing fiber artists to easily process alpaca, cashmere and merino without damaging these fine fibers.

The Española Valley Fiber Arts Center - New Mexico's resource for Fiber Artists - Featured on the Strauch Fiber Equipment Company Blog

The Fiber Open House drew many visitors who were excited to learn how to make batts. The instructors were Peggy and Jeff Doney of The 100th Sheep. After a quick setup and training session for the staff, they gave live demos to the visitors all day long – here are some photos from the event to give you an inside peek!

Peggy assembling a Strauch Drum CarderThe only assembly needed is to attach the feed tray to the Strauch Motorized Finest Drum Carder.

Peggy and Glenna Dean, EVFAC Patron preparing fiber for the first battLet’s get started! Peggy and Glenna Dean (EVFAC Patron) prepare fiber for the first batt.

Peggy running the very first fiber into the carder. Olimpia Newman, the EVFAC Director of Development looking onPeggy adds more fiber while Olimpia Newman, the EVFAC Director of Development, looks on.

Peggy demonstrates how to remove a batt from a Strauch Drum Carder.Peggy demonstrates how to remove a batt from the carder.

Strauch Drum Carder Batt ExampleTa-da! Olimpia shows off her first batt made from the new Strauch Finest Carder. What a proud moment!

We look forward to seeing more beautiful batts from EVFAC members and visitors using their shiny new Strauch Fiber Motorized Double-wide Finest carder. The next time you find yourself in the area, be sure to drop by to check it out – we’d love to see photos from your visit!

Posted in About Strauch, Shops, Strauch Products | Leave a comment

Staff Highlight: Liz Ackermann

Today we’re featuring one of our staff, Liz Ackermann. Liz has worked for Strauch Fiber Equipment for more than 10 years assembling drum carders, ball winders, and swifts. In her spare time, she enjoys weaving, spinning, knitting and whatever other fiber crafts pique her interest. 

Liz making lots of ball winders

Liz making lots of ball winders

How long have you worked for Strauch? How did you hear about the job?
I’ve worked for Strauch since around 2004. (I think. The time has flown by so fast I can hardly keep track!) I knew Joanne and Otto through our local spinning group. They were looking for help for the Christmas rush that year and I had just left a surprisingly wretched job. I guess it was fate!

What fiber arts do you participate in? Do you have a favorite?
I think of myself primarily as a weaver, though I’ve been spinning for almost as long – since the early 1980’s. My focus, at the moment, is tapestry. I also enjoy the odd bit of knitting. Which is good, because my knitting often turns out a little bit odd. I keep some other yarn craft skills in my toolbox too, but weaving, spinning, and knitting are my current fiber hobbies.

View from the loft. The yarn on the shelves is my stash of linen yarn, as well as some of the yarns I’m using for the current tapestry on the lower shelves. The yarn over the window is mostly cotton. The wool lives in plastic bins in the loft.

View from the loft. The yarn on the shelves is my stash of linen yarn, as well as some of the yarns I’m using for the current tapestry on the lower shelves. The yarn over the window is mostly cotton. The wool lives in plastic bins in the loft.

Do you own Strauch equipment?
I do! I’ve got a Jumbo Ball Winder and some hand cards in my studio. But my absolute favorite is my motorized Finest drum carder. Everyone in the shop had a hand in building it and they signed it too, so it’s like a scrapbook with really pointy teeth. Having a piece of equipment that works so well every time I use it is the greatest luxury I know of.  Right now I’m blending some alpaca with a Rambouillet fleece. Fun!

Stash view - Liz | Strauch Fiber Equipment

Strauch Drum Carder and Liz’s stash

What’s the best part of working at Strauch?
Definitely the people I work with: smart, funny, and good looking! The snacks are nice too. Also, power tools.

skeins are from a Romney fleece. Don’t remember what the balls are, but the light grey is very soft. All were carded on a Strauch, and the balls wound on a Jumbo Ball Winder

Skeins are from a Romney fleece. All carded on a Strauch, and the balls wound on a Jumbo Ball Winder.

Who taught you your first fiber craft?
Crochet was my first fiber craft, unless you want to count weaving potholders on those little looms. I think one of the older girls in the neighborhood might have shown me the basics, but mostly I remember figuring it out for myself with one of those little “how-to” pamphlets that you could get at Woolworths. None of the women in my family played with yarn, but my mom and my grandparents were always enthusiastic supporters of my creative endeavors.

Liz making drum carder chains

Liz making drum carder chains

What’s your favorite weaving/spinning/knitting book?
There are so many great fiber books out there. There are two weaving books that I would recommend. I often go back to Marguerite Porter Davison’s classic, A Handweaver’s Pattern Book when I’m looking for interesting weaving patterns. For more contemporary inspiration for 4-harness weaving projects I highly recommend The Big Book of Weaving by Laila Lundell. The projects in it are typically Swedish – simple and elegant. It’s also got fabulous instructions for warping counterbalance and countermarch looms.

Posted in About Strauch, Strauch Artists | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment