Yarns Spun Here: Been ‘Carded’ Lately?


 (Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Tim Burke |

Brand-new special feature about textiles, threads, and more

CHICAGO — How well do you know your textile terminology? (There’s a conversation starter next time you are waiting on the first tee with your pals!)

Just ask this while waiting to tee off: “When’s the last time you were carded?”

Laughs will greet you, but wait!

“Carding,” in this case, isn’t something a grocery store checkout clerk once asked you long ago. No.

We’re talking about carding in textiles, and according to author Norman Oehlke in the Complete Spotting Guide & More, published by American Drycleaner, carding is the first mechanical process used on fibers such as wool.

“The woolen yarns,” Oehlke writes, “are put over a series of rollers of various sizes, turning at different speeds. The machine opens and mixes the wool.”

Merriam-Webster defines carding in this way: “To cleanse, disentangle, and collect together (as fibers) by the use of cards preparatory to spinning.”

The word carding is derived from the Latin carduus, meaning thistle.

Still not ready to hit? The group in front of you looking for a lost ball up a tree? OK, let’s continue to entertain your foursome. (After all, they have nowhere else to go, and we love a captive audience!)

According to Wikipedia, carding: “Breaks up locks and unorganized clumps of fiber and then aligns the individual fibers to be parallel with each other. Carding is the step that comes after teasing.”

Carding, Oehlke writes, removes impurities from the raw wool, such as burrs, twigs and dirt.

“The fibers are straightened out,” he points out, “but the resulting yarns are fuzzy and uneven in length.”

Does sound, once again, like we’re also describing our group’s golf game. And the fairway is finally clear so we can hit. (Too bad.)

These yarns, Oehlke concludes, are referred to as “woolens” and don’t hold their shape (neither do our foursome’s drives) or keep sharp creases.

Were you aware of carding? Now you are. You have officially been, in textile terms, carded!

See you next time, when we’ll learn about combing. Don’t brush this topic off!


About the author

Tim Burke

American Drycleaner


Tim Burke is the editor of American Drycleaner. He can be reached at 312-361-1684 or [email protected]


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