Monday, April 19, 2010
I couldn't quite figure out how to hold onto them, when it occurred to me that the "workbench" we got for the kids a couple of years back had the perfect clamp to hang onto the handle of a plastic pick.
Now if you want a really great tutorial on how to comb wool, I'm going to suggest you go watch this four part series on YouTube which is where I picked up my basics. I'm not going to go into too much detail about what exactly you're doing when combing wool, mostly because I don't understand it that well myself, yet. I might try explaining it more later on. I feel like I need to try it a few times, first!
In general, combing wool is intended to align the fibers and open them up for spinning. It's supposed to keep the tip ends together, facing the same direction. Unlike carding, it does not jumble the wool into a tangle but keeps everything laying parallel. This creates a "preparation" of wool that is ideal for spinning into worsted yarn. It's also supposed to be a lot more gentle on the fiber and is well-suited for very fine wools that would turn into a tangled, neppy mess if you carded them enthusiastically.
So to start, I took a few locks and sprayed them down with a water and oil mixture in an old hairspray bottle. This lubricates the fibers so they'll slide easily, and so they won't go all crazy with static while you're working.
My DIY setup worked! Maybe not the best it could. As I worked I found out my washing process needs refining, too. The locks still had a goodly amount of lanolin in them. I got better as I worked through the ounce, making the transfer more easily and breaking fewer fibers. Breakage is bad. It gives you nepps (little knots of wool that broke and "sproinged!" into twisty tangles). My waste went into another bag which I later carded, nepps and all.