SIMPLY WOOL

CARDING & COMBING YOUR WOOL

The reason it's important to card or comb your wool is to separate and straighten the wool fibers. The result is a batt or rolag of lofty wool that makes spinning easier.  Many fibre artists will invest in a big drum carder for carding their wool, but again, as a stay at home, homesteading momma, a drum carder just isn’t in my limited budget. So, I’ll show you how to card using hand-carders, and combs

Using Hand Carders

Hand-carders are a pair of wooden paddles with wire faces. The wire teeth are either course or fine, and honestly they look a lot like dog brushes. The coarse teeth are for carding wool, mohair and coarse fibres. The fine teeth are for carding cotton and softer fibres like angora.

IMG_4832.HEIC

Step 1

Pull apart the clumps of dried wool with your fingers to make your fleece loftier.

Step 2

“Charge” your combs by taking one of the carders in your left hand and with your right hand, lay staples of wool across the teeth of the carder. Distribute the wool evenly across the entire card until the teeth of the cards are barely showing through.

Step 3

Take the second carder in your right hand and position it directly over the left card. Gently brush the right carder across the teeth of the left, towards you. Do this five to ten times until the fiber is evenly distributed on both cards

*At this point, professional carders will be able to create beautiful rolls of fleece called “rolags” that once, made can  be used to spin. I have not mastered this with my tiny cards, so I do the following….

Step 4

Simply pull the fibres off the comb and pile them with all the fibres in the same direction. Once you have carded or combed your fibres then you are ready to diz your fibres to create roving.

Using Viking/Dutch Combs

If you are preparing double coated fibres or very long stapled fleeces for spinning then using Viking/Dutch Combs are better suited to your needs. The combs can either have one row of tines, or two.  Combing with a double row of tines causes the fibre to separate the shorter fibres from the longer ones. The short fibres are left behind in the stationary comb, and can be carded into rolags. The long fibres are formed into a sliver or a combed top by using a diz.

IMG_4831.HEIC

Step 1

If using Viking/Dutch combs, take a lock of wool and lash it onto the tines. Flip the locks so that the butt ends catch the tines. Fill the whole width of the comb. Bring two or three more rows of locks until about halfway up the tines

IMG_4847.heic
IMG_4848.HEIC

Step 2

Comb with the left hand comb (that holds the wool) in horizontal position and the right hand comb in a perpendicular position. Enter the tips of the wool with the tines of the right hand comb, so that the wool flips over the head of the comb where it won't tangle on itself.

Step 3

You will notice that, as you comb, almost all the wool is being transferred to the right hand comb. Most of it will fluff out but some will still be clumped together at this stage. After completing the first pass, the left hand comb will hold only second cuts and trash, which should be removed.

Step 4

Comb the wool back onto the other comb by switching the combs in your hands — right becomes left, left become right —moving the filled hand comb into the  horizontal position in the left hand.  Repeat this move until all of the wool comes back on the left hand comb. Make two or more combing passes till the wool is smooth and aligned

Step 5

All the wool has to be on one comb, when you start to pull a sliver. Gently stroke all the wool to a point, pinch the end and pull the wool from the comb.

*Experienced fibre artists can spin straight off the combs by drawing the fibers from the loaded comb. I am not that person yet ;)