In the final tutorial for the Comb and Hackle set we are going to blend various fibers....fleece, locks, and "add ins". I have chosen some gorgeous cormo lambs fleece, kid mohair locks, firestar, crystal metallic, bamboo, and silk in spring colors.
The cormo lambs fleece and the kid mohair locks each have a little vegetable matter in them so to begin I'm loading some of each onto the hackle so it's just a tad less than full to save room for the add ins we'll be adding later. I combed the cormo and kid mohair out twice (2 passes) to remove all of the VM. The more you comb the fibers the more blended they will become.
When reloading the hackle for the last step of the second pass I only loaded a small amount from the comb and then added one of my "add in" fibers. I continued this layering process until all of the wool had been transferred from the comb back to the hackle.
After all of the fiber was transferred and my layers in place I combed the fiber out one more time blending all of the add ins with the blended cormo and kid mohair and transferred it back to the hackle. One could continue to comb and blend until the fiber was all one color. I preferred the subtle hints of pastel against the white and so only combed once to blend in the colored add ins just a little. After blending simply diz off as instructed in our previous tutorials.
There are almost countless ways to blend fibers on the comb and hackle set depending on what type of preparation for spinning you want. I do suggest combing any fiber that contains VM separately to remove the VM before adding other fibers as I did above. If your fleece/locks have no VM go ahead and load your add ins with the fleece and blend it. If you'd like streaks of a definite color running through the fiber you could layer and load your hackle and then diz skipping the pass that blends the colors. Play with with, be creative, and have fun!
Yarn spun from top combed and blended in this tutorial and plyed with cormo.
My babies all lined up and ready to comb!
The comb and hackle set was made for those who process their own fleeces and want to comb larger quantities at one time....what I call "production combing". The combs were designed to be held with two hands when combing to make it more comfortable to comb for a longer period of time. The handles, which are all of one piece of wood, are designed and shaped not just for comfort but for maximum control, much like a good hammer, so that even without looking the comber can tell which way the head of the comb is facing. This also makes it possible to flip the comb when reloading the hackle without looking at it so you don't lose your rhythm.
As Eric has told me many times it's the stationary hackle that really does most of the work when combing. However, one must take into account what type of fleece is being combed, staple length, condition of the fleece such as amount of vegetable matter, any matting of the fibers, etc , the amount of fleece you intend to comb in one session, and any physical limitations the comber may have. The answers to these questions will help you decide which comb is best for your purpose. I would like to say that all of the combs will comb ALL types of fiber equally well. The difference between combs comes in when you ask how many passes do you want to make to get your fiber spinnable and do you, as the comber, have any issues with your hands or wrists that could be aggravated by combing??
ROMNEY/BFL--is slightly matted with dry ends and is of medium fineness LLAMA--very little VM but what is there are larger pieces, lots of short cuts, fine to medium fine softness ALPACA--short cuts, fair amount of vegetable matter of all shapes and sizes, very fine and soft MERINO--very small chaff like VM, shortcuts and nepps, fine in softness
I chose 4 different types of fleece to get a variety of of staple lengths, vegetable matter content and type, fineness, and "fleece conditions". I combed a hackle full of each fleece with each type of comb and recorded how many passes it took to remove vegetable matter and second cuts to make a nice smooth spinning fiber. All of my fleece has been scoured/washed.........I NEVER put raw fleece on my combs and hackles.
Note: 1 Pass = combing off the hackle and reloading back onto the hackle one time.
NECESSARY WARNING: The tines are blunted on the ends but still sharp and will cause injury unless all due caution and care are employed in their use and storage. Please do not use these in close proximity to others or pets. Do not allow others unfamiliar with combing to use these without direct and constant supervision. Do not allow children of any age, convicted felons, former presidents of the U.S. or other questionable individuals to use or have access to these. Please store them immediately after use to prevent inadvertent injury to yourself or others.