The Ashford Blending Board arrives flat-packed.
Included in the box are illustrated instructions, two dowel rods and a blending brush.
Self-assembly is a very simple matter of attaching the Keel to the board with the screw-fitting keel bolt provided. The keel has two table-saving protective feet attached. The board is of unspecified composition but does appear to be a sturdy laminated wood.
There is a choice of three positions to fit the keel – the first is for working at a table, the other two are provided for working on your lap.
At first assessment, the board seems very expensive for what it is. After all, it achieves nothing that cannot be done on a hand carder or a drum carder.
Second thoughts and a little experience suggest that this is perhaps true but that with the board a better result can be achieved than on a drum carder, and more effectively and efficiently than on hand carders. Both of those also seem very expensive for what they are, so maybe that’s just the way that it goes…
Most importantly, the blending board is tremendous fun.
It is worth noting that the carding cloth is finer than that of the standard drum or hand carders (72 point) at 108 point. The carding area is a generous 12 inches square (approx 30 cms) – though I sense now and again that I would like this to be just a little larger. Actually, I would like the keel to be larger too – a little more depth on the keel would have made it easer to use on my lap – though I may not have given it a fair chance as I was sitting in my executive desk chair and not on a more sensible piece of furniture for this task.
Using the board could not be simpler. One’s chosen fibres are applied by hand in a painterly fashion and the fibres are brushed in with the blending brush – this is a most satisfying activity! Once the board is filled to your satisfaction, the rolags are removed by using the pair of dowel rods provided. Ashford’s own video gives a clear and simple demonstration.
TIP: Wood has a grain. If you mark the direction of the grain onto your dowels you can use them opposed, to make removal of the fibre easier. The two dowels will slip out easily and none of your fibres will be ruffled.
Ashford say that “you can easily make 4 or more rolags from each full board” and this has been my own experience, as I normally remove “four plus a little one.”
The fibre comes away cleanly, with no waste.
Half a dozen or so experiments so far have been sufficient to establish an addiction. I have been carding mainly merino tops, with some added silk, Angelina and dyed Wensleydale locks here and there. The rolags/poonies are simply breath-takingly beautiful – little objets d’art.
I think that the rolags/poonies look especially good when rolled into coils.
I made a set for Jennifer’s birthday gift. I was sure that I had photographed them, but cannot find the image. Here are a few that I did earlier. They don’t look quite so pretty – they were badly mauled at the Christmas Fair, folks simply could not resist fondling (and who could blame them?)
I want to spin these spicy red ones to a single for weaving.
That last set is the one that I tried spinning with at the Christmas Fair. It’s the nitty gritty isn’t it – just how easy are the rolags to spin with? Very easy! They must be, as I am hopeless with a drop spindle and I managed to spin with ease – no drops, no breakages, and a fine and even single. I was… surprised. It made me look skilful! I found the rolag easier to manipulate and to keep out of my twist than the usual intransigent clump of top or fleece.
It’s a shame about the Jennifer ones, they really were very pretty and I should have liked to share them with you.
OK. Tempted? You can find the board listed here. We are currently selling them at £110, which is a competitive price. We normally offer a short-life discount code on our review items. We’ve cut our profit to the bone on the blending board but would still like to offer a saving… so we are doing so, but keeping the window of opportunity open for only a very brief time. Order and pay for an Ashford Blending Board from us between now and the end of December 2013 and quote the Coupon Code: ASHBB5 and the system will deduct £5 from the overall price. (Please read our important note on Ashford Delivery Charges before placing your order.)
We think that these will make excellent Christmas Gifts but also recognise that you might wish to treat yourself with any Christmas cash that you might be lucky enough to receive – hence the 31st December closing date.
If you do buy (or receive) an Ashford Blending Board purchased from us, do send us photographs of your creations. We shall establish a gallery and there may well be some random prize-giving.