The Final Prep: Combing the Bowmont

Yesterday, I mentioned that ‘true’ worsted yarns are produced from combed wool.  Well, meet my wool combs:
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They were made by Majacraft, who also provide great instructions (warning: pdf!) on how to use them, and really are pretty sharp, and I’m glad they come with that backplate/holder.  They definitely get kept away from Kita’s curious wee nose.  The odd brass ‘thing’ is a diz: something that seems to be one of the best-kept secrets of the yarn prep world.  I’ll explain more as I go…

For combing, fibre needs to be really clean, and so I used the locks from my prep that were the whitest and least sheepy-smelling of the lot in this batch.  Combing really, really opens up the fibre and you get quite a bit of static flying around.  You also end up with all your fluffy, white fibre stuck on the comb – which is where the diz comes in.  This thing is like magic.  You use the tiniest hook imaginable to pull a tiny tuft of fibre through the smallest hole – and you pull.  And pull.  And pull.  You get a feeling for when to shift your grip on the long, lofty, slender sliver that you are making (though it’s a tad frustrating until you do), and the diz just seems to hoover up all the fibre from the comb and suck it in as you go, until all the waste and tangly bits are left on the comb, and you can just *spin* what you have left.  The first lot I tried with this, I think I had well over 30% waste, but my efficiency improved dramatically as I practiced – and anyway, all the leftovers can be combed and used for woollen yarn later.

Spinning that stuff is like a dream – it is smooth, nep-free and just *flows*.  I produced some really lustrous, smooth, soft, consistent yarn this way:
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Combing wool is time consuming, but not frustrating (as the dog-combs were) and gives a significantly better result than the semi-worsted carded prep.  It may take longer, but you don’t have to fight any imperfections whilst spinning, and the whole thing was just *fun*.  I’m delighted to own these mini combs, and will definitely use them again.  I might even remember to take photos next time.

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