Most-Used Fiber Prep Tool

One of the things I like about fiber prep and spinning is that there are so many different ways to get to a finished yarn. And I like to hear people’s preferences and methods. It’s
always interesting and I usually learn something new.

When working from a raw fleece, I usually spin from one of three different preps: opened locks, combed fiber, or carded fiber. Because I try to clean a fleece as soon as it gets home and may not know which prep will be used before spinning, I wash fleece to retain lock
formation. Another perk to washing this way is that I’ve already removed a lot of the vm,
second cuts, and other undesirables.

As the clean fleeces are in lock formation, the flick carder (or flicker) is the first tool I pick up when prepping for spinning.

Picture of Flick Carder

The flicker is helpful with opening up and removing crunchy tips,

Picture of Tippy Locks

and with removing vm (vegetable matter).

Picture of Locks with VM

It’s an extra step, but it makes the next step, whether combing or carding, much more
pleasant. Also, removing the vm before carding avoids extra wear and tear on the carder’s teeth.

Especially when the fleece looks like this (the washed locks of this white fleece are shown above):

Picture of Dirty Fleece

How to Use a Flick Carder

Besides your flicker, you will need a protective surface to flick on. I use a large piece of leftover drapery fabric. You want a soft surface that will not catch or damage the teeth of the flicker. Remember, before you use your flicker or any tool with sharp points, make sure you have your tetanus shot up to date.

Step 1 First, flick the tip of the lock.

Step 1 Instructions

The teeth on a flicker are shallow, so you want to work with a lock that is thinner than the teeth are deep. Also, you will be holding the lock between your thumb and index finger, so you want the lock to be narrower than your thumb.

Get a lock and grasp it firmly by the butt end between your index finger and thumb. If you do not have all of the lock between your finger and thumb, it will get messy.

Picture of holding the flicker above the tip of a lock

Place the lock on your lap and grab your flicker. With a downward motion, gently tap the end of the lock with the front rows of teeth of the flicker. Pull the flicker up and away from the lock.

Picture showing the lock after the tip has been flicked.

You don’t want press the pad of the flicker down into the lock and drag across the lock. Remember, you are trying to gently open up and separate the fibers at the tip of the lock and remove any fragile tips and/or vm.

Step 2 Repeat Step 1 with the butt of the lock.

Visual of Step 2

Picture showing flicker above butt of lockPicture of flicked butt of lock

For some locks, you need only the lightest taps to open them up. For others, you need to be a bit more aggressive. This takes a bit of practice.

The left-most lock below needs only the lightest tap with the flicker to open up the tip and butt. The middle locks need slightly more aggressive tapping and a little combing action to open up the sunburned tips. The right-most locks need the most work with the flicker to not only open up the tips, but also to remove the vm.

Picture of different locks

Flick Carder Manufacturers


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