Monday, October 02, 2006

Adventures In Wool Combing

Well, actually I wouldn't call it “adventures.” “Experiments “ would be more like it.

I have procrastinated purchasing woolcombs all these years for various reasons. Mostly though, because their cost required me to not make a frivolous purchase. Besides, I had a flicker, wouldn't that accomplish the same thing?

However, after a lot of knuckle busting from the flicker, a lot of deliberation, and the recommendation of my friend Ruth in Kansas, I finally decided to purchase Forsyth Minicombs. They have the advantages of being small, lightweight, portable, and not too deadly looking, as well as being well made.

My new Forsyth mini woolcombs, complete with canvas bag & plastic diz.These are 2-pitch, meaning that they have 2 rows of tines.

“Charging” the comb means loading it with fiber. The biggest disadvantage to minicombs is that one can only deal with small amounts of fiber at a time. But, I figured that since I would probably make quite a few messes anyway, smaller messes would be easier to deal with than larger ones.

Comb charged with Leicester Longwool.The butt end of the locks are loaded onto the comb, lashing on about ½ inch of fiber, about half-way down the tines.

The combing itself requires that the combs be worked perpendicular to one another. Exactly how this is accomplished is by whatever method is the most comfortable and least perilous to the comber. So I did a lot of experimenting, and tried every angle.

I tried combing this-a-way.
And that-a-way.I admit that it felt rather awkward no matter which way I held the combs or which dorection I combed. This is a feeling that I know that practice and experience will tend to.

After the fiber is transferred from one comb to the other, the short bits and VM are removed from the first comb and the process is repeated several times.

Dizzing the combed fiber.The other tool which requires some practice is the use of a diz. I'm sure the complimentary one that came with my combs is adequate, but I couldn't help but admire some of the fancy ones in the Woodland Woolworks catalog, nor contemplate the ideas on the Online Guild discussion board for making my own.

A clamp is also available, which I didn't purchase. Without it I had to enlist the help of an spare off-camera hand to secure the comb as I dizzed the fiber.

The result is this lovely open roving, ready to spin, which I will report on soon.

The resulting roving.
In the meantime, woolcombing tips and suggestions are welcome.

Related posts -
Leicester Longwool 2 - Washing & Sorting
Color Blending on Woolcombs
Polwarth - Experimenting With Blends


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I have been limping along with a dog comb and finding it quite enjoyable (although my knuckles are not). I am more interested in combs than cards, which I have, because I like the worsted wool better, usually.

If you get around to it, can you tell me if it is possible to blend fibers with the combs? I was going to resort to cards because I don't know any other way.

Pretty wool, by the way.

Spindlers2 said...

I've got Forsyth combs, too, and like them a lot. They are very sturdy yet portable, and I find the handles comfortable. I have a couple of really nice dizzes (??)that I got from Rod at Woodchuck. Big limpet shells work, too.

Valerie said...

I have Forsyth mini combs and Louet mini combs. I like the Forsyths a lot, but I'm not crazy about the clamp. The Louet minicombs have "cup hook" inserted in the end of the handle which is very easy to hook onto your belt and pull the top off the comb. One of these days I'll put a hook on the Forsyth handles.

Meanwhile, Judith MacKenzie McCuin taught us to draft and spin right off the Forsyth's quite a slick trick to learn!

CygKnit said...

Thank you. That was the clearest explination I've seen so far for the use of combs. I'm far less afraid of them, now.

Jackie said...

Oh My! The more I read, the more I learn! Those are some nasty looking combs! But the results are wonderful. Thanks for the explanation.

Cathy said...

I love looking at pictures of people combing their wool. One of these days I have to break down and get combs. Looks like you sold me on that type. I have several dizes already - to take roving off my drumcarder. They are fun.

Charleen said...

I have Alvin Ramer's super mini combs and love them. They have a case that you can use to secure the combs, but you still have to secure the wooden case to the table with a clamp. I took a class with Patsy Z where she taught us to spin right off the comb. Very cool, unless you suddenly lean down to scratch your ankle ;-)

I second Carol's recommendation of the Woodchuck's dizzes. Very cool, lovely wood, although my homemade pvc one probably works as well.

Unknown said...

Oh no...
I feel a comb purchase coming on, I've already got carders and a drum roller! :-)
Gotta have a go this winter.

I love the shadoweave shawl very chic :-)