Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A very fancy kitty

A large international parcel arrived at our little town post office today, always an event of interest – ‘What have those odd poms with the long-necked sheep brought from America this time?

But we’re not telling... we like a bit of mystery.

But we’ll tell you: we’re now the proud owners of a ‘Fancy Kitty’.

No... we’re not importing US felines, we’ve invested in a ‘Kitten’ drum carder from Ron Anderson in Montana (http://www.fancy-kitty.com/carders1.html). We decided to go for one with an electric motor and brush attachment and it arrived fully assembled and packed with so much care that it probably travelled in more comfort than any human passenger (now there’s a thought for the next long-haul flight...).

It is a thing of beauty – hand made from quality materials, Ron clearly takes great pride in his work, it even included all the parts needed for converting it back to a manual machine (I don’t think that’s very likely though).

It didn’t take long to make sure everything was there (it was), check that the power supply really was multi-voltage (it was), replace the US plug and glance at the excellent instructions for just long enough to feel over-confident.

Sarah had pre-washed some fleece from Zahava – a beautiful mahogany coloured girl and the mother of Puck – this year’s little superstar (the term beautiful here refers to the fleece, not the animal, who has a face and a temper that only a really dedicated mother could love).

I have to break off for moment here, dear reader, and admit that this bit doesn’t sit easily – I like to spin from raw fleece, straight off the animal’s back, nothing more than a quick shake to get the worst of the rubbish out, but washing it first is what all the experts advise, so that’s what we did.

So, less than 30 minutes after breaking the tape on the top of the box, we had our first batt. Not too bad for a first attempt.

A quick dot-point review of the machine:
  • Solid and well made
  • Easy to use (almost dummy-proof in fact)
  • Good instructions
  • Helpful and patient supplier – Ron answered all of my dumb emailed questions himself, often within minutes of me sending them
  • Excellent motor – very quiet but with plenty of power
  • Very well priced (it cost less than I would have payed here for a lesser model – even with the shipping cost).
So the final question – why buy a carder when I prefer ‘raw’ spinning? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, I can’t keep up with demand and I have to face it, spinning from batts is much quicker. The other reason is that, with fifty animals, we’re in an awkward place... Not enough to make commercial bales, too much to use ourselves or sell as plain fleece. There is a greater demand for part-prepared fibre and the margins make selling it more attractive – I’m selling raw fleece to spinners at $30 per kilo, but batts go for $12 - $15 per 100g; that's a big difference so it seems to make sense.


  1. Yup, you have bought the best. I too would have chosen that one had I not got a second hand one on ebay.

  2. I've looked at them too, much quicker than hand carding!