Combin’ Fool

Yesterday I went to a SpinDrifters meeting in Bellingham, and picked up some English combs that the group was kind enough to loan to me. I’ve been dying to have some combs since I saw Susan Forsyth demonstrate their usefulness at the SpinDrifters’ First Annual Spin-In last fall!

So here they are (BTW-these are not Forsyth combs- they have the name “John A Meck” on the case:
English Combs

Scary, eh?

Yeah, I thought so too. Brought them home and I was half inclined to just leave them in t their nice wooden case where they couldn’t hurt anybody. These guys are amazingly sharp, and the longest tines are about 6.5″ long.

But I also knew that they are probably the only thing that would help me tame the Lincoln fleece that I have had in my stash for about a year and a half. I bought this wool at the NW Washington fair in 2006, when I was just getting into this whole business, and was looking for fleece where ever I could find it. It is beautiful and silky- silver and gunmetal colored, with champagne tips. But it is somewhat matted at the skin, and there is veg about an inch from the tips that binds it all up. Early on I processed a small amount of this by pulling it apart by hand and then brushing the heck out of it with a flick carder,, but I’d since given up in this method and put it aside to deal with later.

Now it is later. And I have the right tools at my disposal. So here we go!

Here is the wool we’re starting with:

washed lincoln

And here we go with combing it out into something I can spin!
english comb in table bracket

First I pulled the locks apart a little by hand, because they were really bound up, and I don’t want to go using excessive force and somehow damaging these wonderful combs I’ve borrowed. Then I placed on of the combs in it’s holder, clamped to a table.

comb loaded with lincoln wool

Then I lashed on a few locks and worked from left to right, transferring the wool to the hand-held comb.
combs after the fisrt pass

Notice the waste left on the clamped comb. That has a lot of matted stuff behind it that just wouldn’t let loose. You don’t want to spin that anyway, so don’t feel bad about tossing it!

After a few passes, everything seemed pretty well sorted out, so with the wool back on the table comb, it’s time get out the diz and make a top, or sliver, or whatever you want to call it. (Completely off topic: In case you’re ever playing Scrabble and need to get rid of a Z, don’t try “diz”. It’s not in the dictionary. At least not mine. Maybe I just need a newer edition?)
dizzing top from comb

Isn’t this amazing? Beautiful silky lincoln top from matted locks. Sure you’re gong to loose quite a bit to waste- but a lincoln is a big sheep. Lots of wool to spare. No worries.
lincoln top and washed locks

And always remember to put the big scary combs back in their case when you’re done. One wrong move with these guys could do a lot of damage.

English Combs in case

(Those are more little combed wool muffins in the background. Aren’t they adorable?)

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