Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Color Blending on Woolcombs

By Leigh

I am very pleased to report that the more practice I get with my new woolcombs, the less awkward the process of combing feels.

A couple of things which I've learned (because, even though I've read this advice, experience is after all, the best teacher :) :
1. The fiber must be very clean. Even a little leftover grease both gunks up the combs and slows down the process.
2. That 4 transfers (or whatever it's called) works well to remove the noils and short bits, and creates fiber that truly "spins like butter."

I think I've found a new love!

Jesse wondered about trying to blend fibers with the combs. That idea piqued my curiosity too so I wanted to give it a try.

I knew that I had some small amounts of dyed Border Leicester fleece somewhere, so I dug around in my stash and pulled them out. I found two colors of blue, both from Cushings acid dyes. One from the exhaust of a navy dyepot (because who can let an exhausted dyepot go waste), the other Cushings Copenhagen blue (my favorite.)

First I sorted them out by staple length. Otherwise, the longer fibers catch and pull out first, and the shorter fibers will be pulled off last. This obviously isn't helpful for blending.

I chose the 6 inch locks and loaded the comb about 50/50.

The blues blended well with each progressive exchange of fiber.

Below are the results with the two original colors for comparison. Navy exhaust on the left, Copenhagen blue on the right, and the blend in the middle. The results are subtle because of the colors I used, but successful enough to encourage more experimenting.

I didn't waste any time spinning these up. What a joy! Since they are only samples and will probably find their way into some knitting project, I put a low amount of twist in the yarns to keep them soft.

Instructions for color blending with a diz can be found at the Majacraft website. And somewhere I think I've seen instructions for blending with a hackle. However, I'm too lazy to try the diz method. And considering how long it took me to purchase woolcombs, don't look for the addition of a hackle to my fiber equipment any time soon. :)

Posted 4 Oct. 2006 at

Related posts -
Adventures in Woolcombing
Polwarth - Experimenting With Blends


Sue Bleiweiss said...

Oh those skeins look dreamy soft, I'll bet they're an absolute pleasure to work with. Love the colors too.

CygKnit said...

Again, you answer questions I barely knew I had. Thanks :)

Charleen said...

Very pretty. Yes, it's subtle, but the blended yarn seems to have more depth. I bet it looks even better in real life. Deb Menz's book gives instructions for blending with a hackle.

Anonymous said...

OH MY those are some beautiful handspun hanks. I have wool combs and have never become real good at using them, you make it look very easy. Forsyths make some beautiful wooden products.

Jackie said...

Makes me wish there was more time in my day and more money in my wallet!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving that a try. Your results are amazing! Great pictures, too. This should be published in a magazine somewhere!

I do not own a pair of wool combs, just a single dog comb, so I don't know if I can get such nice blends. Plus, I'm going for wool blended with alpaca (different lengths?) and they are both natural, so I may have a hard time knowing whether I've succeeded. I'll have to go by feel, I guess.

Thanks again. This is great.