I had tea last weekend with a dear fiber arts friend. She brought a treat for me — a pair of Clemes and Clemes wool cards. These came from a stash being dispersed because the fiber artist had passed away.
In the picture, you can see an uncleaned card on the left, and a cleaned card on the right. The cards looked used. It didn't help that the wool in the cards was a brownish color. Were the cards still sound, or were they beginning to rust?
I cleaned the cards by:
1. Using a small-gauge knitting needle (like a US 0 or 1) to dig out the wool scraps.
2. Dragging a pet brush through the combs.
3. Carding a little waste wool.
The first step is just like it sounds. If you use a small needle, you can slide the stick in between the teeth and pry up the wool scraps. You may be surprised by how much better a card will look after just that step. In the picture above, that was all I had done to the card on the right.
When I used the pet brush, I held the combs over the sink. The pet brush bristles are not as sturdy as the card bristles, which means they yielded to the card's teeth. The sink was full of lots of little bits of dirt when I was done, but the cards looked cleaner.
I have a "waste" fleece. It is useful for things like dyeing experiments, stuffing, or felting repairs. In this case, it was also useful for cleaning the cards. The last step was carding a little wool. The wool came out gray, indicating it had pulled some dirt off the cards.
In the end, there were lovely cards lurking underneath the dirt and old wool. They aren't perfect, but they are serviceable. Sometimes older tools get neglected. But sometimes, just like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, all they need is a little love.