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More Combing

December 19, 2004
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I’ve been immersing myself in combing for the past week, and I finally got time to take some pictures.

I bought the combs from Karen who ended up with 2 sets – they are Indigo Hound 2-row Viking combs. They are numbered in pencil, and dated 1991 so they’re almost vintage! They are not elegant but they are very comfortable to hold, and have enough weight in the head to go through the wool well (makes me think of how a tennis racquet is weighted!). They’re also reasonably large – the tines are about 5 inches long and very sharp.

I had been washing up little lots of fleece that I’d bought, so I started sampling. My first effort was the fleece that came in the box with the combs, some kind of Cotswold cross.

The tips of the curls were a little hard, so this was too difficult for me at first and I went on to my Targhee. The first effort was only average but I got a little to spindle. Then I tried some double-coated Shetland which was clean but a little bit in the grease – generated a lot of waste but it came out a lovely color. I attached this onto the spindle with my Targhee and kept spinning.

Ultimately I plyed and got a funny little 15 or 16 yard skein of marl.

Next I tried some Rambouillet that I thought would be too difficult, but it came out great!

Then I went back to the Targhee again and did much better.

Finally I tried the Cotswold again.

This is interesting stuff – not as silky as Bluefaced Leicester but with some sheen, and VERY long fibers. The resulting top is a little neppy in some places. I’ve been spindling it this afternoon and I’m having to hold my hands 5 or 6 inches apart to make it draft. I think I’m going to settle down to one thing now, and comb this stuff up and spindle it. Then I’ll move on to something else. It’s spindling very nicely. Stuff that’s pulled right off the comb needs no predrafting, it’s just open and ready to go.

Part of why it’s getting better is I’m getting a better feel for this diz business. I’ve been using a large button, and the better pieces of top have resulted from the times I ignored all advice and tried to pull big fat slivers off. If I tried to make it flow easy I ended up with stuff too thin to hang together. Someone on the Fiber Combing Yahoo group suggested a spice jar cap for a diz and I’m going to try that when I get back to it.

The combing motion that I’ve evolved for myself may or may not be particularly orthodox, but it allows me to comb sitting down and takes advantage of the weight of the comb head. I fill up the comb between one third and one half full (I’ve been doing better with a little more fleece), then I hold one comb in my left hand with the tines pointing straight at me, and I hold the other comb in my right hand with the tines pointing straight down. I comb downward with the right comb, which takes the tines sort of across the fleece. After a couple of passes I turn the tines on the left comb to point away from me and repeat. I think I probably won’t buy a comb pad after all, this seems to work fine for me. Wish I could have photographed that instead of just described it… Maybe some other day!

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5 Comments
  1. December 19, 2004 2:17 pm

    I’ve been using an old knitting needle gauge for a diz… hold it between my knees while sitting and bring the carded wool through, gradually decreasing the size. One of these days I’ll get with the program, but this is working fine in the meantime.
    A while back I’d seen a blog from the Pacific NW where the author made diz(zes??) from seashells collected hear her home.

  2. sam permalink
    December 19, 2004 6:32 pm

    Caroline, this is all looking so good. Those washed locks are really pretty – such a lovely sheen. I love that you’re developingyour own method. My favorite thing about all of this is that I just don’t think there’s a right way to do it, and I love to see what other people come up with. I’ve been using the spice cap for a plying disc, so I’ll be curious to read how it goes as a diz.

  3. December 20, 2004 8:07 am

    Oh, Carolyn, those look fantastic! Lucky you… I’m getting a drum carder for Christmas (I was only a little naughty this year) and combs are next… Can’t wait to see how they all spin up!

  4. December 20, 2004 9:06 am

    How intriquing! Forgive my ignorance-I know not of what you speak, but that is half the fun of reading it!!! Looks good though..can’t wait to see the finished product! Your daughter looks like an angel with a cloud upon her head 🙂

  5. Katie permalink
    December 21, 2004 11:21 am

    Yay! it’s fun, isn’t it? I haven’t had time to do anything fiber related since last week, so it was good to have a vicarious experience this morning!

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