Making batts

Last week I decided to practice my batt making skills (read: I needed an excuse to play with fibre in pretty colours.) If you don’t know what a batt is, it’s fibres you pass through a drum carder to create a sort of combed woolly blanket you can then spin into yarn or felt.

Since the next big holiday is Valentines, I decided I could use pink fibres. I also wanted to practice my optical blending skills, so this was an ideal opportunity.

Optical blending is when you mix fibres of different colours to create a new hue/colour. In this specific case, I used three shades of pink to create six. If you look at the photo below and start at the top, you can see how colours start with a dark shade and move on to a lighter. This means I pre-made mini batts in order to arrive at the “main batt.”

A little tip if you’re a beginner: if you want to properly plan for a batt, weigh the total fibre you’re going to use, and know how much your carder can take so you don’t end up filling the drum to the brim before you’re done adding all the colours.

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I used the darkest pink on top and the third one clockwise to create the shade between both. I then used that third shade and the lightest one to create the colour below. You can’t really tell in the photo, but the dark pink also has silk added to it, and the bottom pink has pink sparkle.

I like batts that have a main colour and then a pop of another colour, so I decided to use two shades of white/gray to create some visual interest. The lightest colour is merino blended with white mohair and sparkle, and the darker gray is some of the white blended fibre with gray mohair. On a side note, these two blends were so soft I just felt like squishing them in my hands all the time.

Now, onto making the batt. I decided to use the light gray as my base colour, so I spread that onto the feeding table of the carder, a bit of fibre at a time until I had used up all of this colour.

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Then I used the lightest pink and used all of that as well.

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I then decided it wasn’t very interesting if the colours were just fed by order of hue, because everything would end up looking very well blended if spun, so I decided to feed the colours in thirds, until I ran out of those.

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This is what it looked like on the drum carder. Remember my advise on weighing the fibre to avoid filling up the carder too soon? If you look at the dark pink on the lower right, you see that this drum is already feeling the challenge – the pins are beginning to disappear beneath the wool.

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Finally, the darkest pink and then the dark gray mohair. I didn’t have the same amount of the last colour to completely cover the pink (on purpose) so I fed it onto the carder in only a few sections.

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Voilá, the end result – 70g of woolly squishy goodness. I should list this in my Etsy shop. I should. Just after I finish ogling at the prettiness of it all.

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Do you have a drum carder? Are you thinking of getting one? What have you made and what do you love/hate about this finger-eating machine (yes, it bites when you get distracted)? Let me know.

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9 responses to “Making batts

    • Thanks! I’m really not much of a pink person myself, but I think the grey makes it look more grown-up, if that makes sense? Plus, the softness! I need to play with my carder more 😁

      • Yes, I do know what you mean 🙂 I often look at carders and think how wonderful it would be to have one, but given I’ve no desire to spin yarn or to felt, I haven’t got a use for one.

  1. Very interesting. I don’t have a drum carder but do quite a lot of mixing fibres together with hand carders – it’s much more imprecise than with drum carders, but you do get some very nice results. Your end result is almost too nice to use 🙂

    • Thank you! It’s ridiculous to admit, but I’ve only very recently (last week!) got my first pair of hand carders – before that, I was using dog brushes. It’s not easy getting anything decent out of these, other than a good brush and removal of vegetable matter.
      Do you have any posts where you’ve done some hand carder blending?
      And yes, when I like how the batts come out I really feel bad for selling them or using them, they just look too pretty to mess with 😀

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