So, we’ve been over making rolags in videos, now it’s time to look at making mini batts and blending fibers on the blending board.
To demonstrate batt making and blending at the same time I’m using superwash merino mill combed top and various add ins (silk, bamboo, firestar, nylon, etc)
I first lay down a layer of my top on the board and then lay down my add ins with my second layer of top going down last. For this tutorial I sandwiched the add ins between the two layers of top to keep them somewhat “locked” in the fiber. Normally, for mini batts, I would lay down some add ins first so they show on the outside of the batt and then more on other layers as I built the batt.
To remove the mini batt from the blending board start from the bottom (always start from the bottom) and either peel your batt carefully off of the board or roll it off of the board using two dowel rods but without drafting while you roll as you would with a rolag. The mini batt will “poof” a bit once off the board. After removing the batt, I tore it into strips lengthwise as you would for spinning. I then tore each of these strips in half mostly so I wouldn’t have the “tails” catching on the carding cloth of the board while I worked. With the 2 halves of a strip in one hand I reload the fiber onto the board. Once a I have a layer down I burnish and repeat until I have about half of the original batts worth of fiber on the board. I find not packing the board full when blending works better. Please note: when blending this way your fibers will not stay in their nice neat vertical alignment unless you are very meticulous. I’m not so my fiber will be a true woolen blend.
I repeated the above process 3 times and as you can see the fiber is pretty blended though not to the point of being all one color. The more you “peel off and reload” the fiber the more blended it will get. It does take considerably more time to blend fibers this way than with a drum carder but the upside is you can do it while watching TV;) After the final loading of the board I laid it down on my table to remove the batt…again, this can be done be peeling it off the board from the bottom and working your way up OR rolling it off without drafting.
So, how many people noticed that this isn’t Ron’s original blending board used in the tutorial?? Yep, he’s come out with a larger table top model whose cloth is 18” long!!! I found I can still use it in my lap but I need more “elbow room” due to it’s extra length. I am able to put more fiber on this board and I seem to be averaging about 1.6 oz per board though fully loaded and packed I can get 2 oz on it at a time.
NECESSARY WARNING: The tines are blunted on the ends but still sharp and will cause injury unless all due caution and care are employed in their use and storage. Please do not use these in close proximity to others or pets. Do not allow others unfamiliar with combing to use these without direct and constant supervision. Do not allow children of any age, convicted felons, former presidents of the U.S. or other questionable individuals to use or have access to these. Please store them immediately after use to prevent inadvertent injury to yourself or others.