Out of the Museum

Wool carders well-known around the area

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Where: Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

When: Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Free: Donations always accepted

We were pleased to see that several readers knew what last week’s mystery item was and its exact purpose.

If you know or can figure out what this week’s mystery item is, please send answers to by Tuesday.

Holding this week’s mystery item is docent Andy McMurtie of the Lincoln Area Archives Museum.


Last week’s mystery item

Ginger James: “This week's mystery items are wool carders used to ‘tease’ or get wool ready for spinning. My grandparents used wool carders to rework wool from an old quilt into batting for a new quilt.”

Stephen Himes: “I believe that the item was a ‘curry’ comb usually used for raw fabrics such as cotton. As for last week’s item, I had never seen an alcoholometer before.  As a kid, we used to just put a match to it and watch the color of the flame.  Different colors - different alcohol content.  In reality, if it was flammable, it was drinkable!  Those were the days.”


Roy Elledge: “Hand carders for wool. You card the wool so you can spin it into yarn.” He used to weave and still has a loom. 


Kate Janelli: “The mystery item pictured on 4/25 is a pair of carders used to prepare wool or other fiber for spinning. By carding the wool, the individual fibers are aligned and can more easily be spun using the technique of woolen long draw. Carders are still manufactured today and used by hand spinners and other fiber artists. I have a pair in my craft room.”


Michele McLaughlin: “The mystery items are wool combs. You take the sheared wool and two people comb it back and forth through these. I remember these from an assembly when I was a little girl.”


Suzy Miller: “These are a pair of carders.  You brush the sheep fleece with them, it is called carding. They help get the fleece ready for spinning wool. Then you knit a nice warm scarf. Win, win situation.”


Betty Newman: “The item looks like a device my grandmother used to card cotton for quilts.  She used two of the devices and rubbed or pulled them together with uncarded cotton in between.”


Anne C. Birge: “I think it's a brush used to brush/pull the fibers out of wool from sheep, goats, llamas or alpacas.”


Shirley Hoffman: “It looks like a wool carder.”  



Wool carders, it is

The pair of wool carders, last week’s mystery item, was donated to the museum by docent Kathy Freeman. Hand carders are typically square or rectangular paddles in a variety of sizes. The two paddles, called carders, have teeth that work the wool fiber, combing or preparing it for spinning. 

The paddles with 72 teeth per inch are popular, especially for beginners. Carders can have up to 100 teeth per inch.

The purpose of carding is to untangle the fiber and clean small particles from the wool.  The carded fibers are rolled, which becomes a “rolag.”  When you have an ample supply of rolags, the wool fiber can be spun into yarn.

For a visual on carding, search for wool carding on YouTube. To see a pair of wood carders first-hand, visit the Lincoln Area Archives Museum in downtown Lincoln any Tuesday through Saturday,

  • Carol Feineman