Thursday, October 9, 2014

Making My Own Combed Top For Spinning

I didn't know what I'd blog about today so how I thought, how about something really different from my usual subject.  I recently started combing some wool from my stash of fleeces.

Here is Athena when she was younger, about the time I got the fleece off her. She is a Shetland sheep whose fleece is a color called Moorit, a shade of brown.

This is a basket of fleece that I am working with.  The lighter tips are where the sun has faded her fleece. From this point you need to do something to the wool to prepare it for spinning. You can choose to card or comb the wool. To comb the wool you need a pair of these deadly looking combs. The tines are very sharp.

Here I have taken the locks of fleece and lashed them on to the wool combs.  There are many layers of locks here. There are all placed on the same way, with the tips out and the cut end away from you.

Then the comb is  turned sideways and I take the other comb and with a sweeping motion  the wool is transferred from one comb to the next.  The noil and trash remain in the comb. Then I pull them off and throw that part away. The wool is transferred back and forth between the two combs several times before it is done.

Then the comb is turned again so that it can be pulled off into what is called combed top.  

A small piece of the wool is pulled through what is called a diz to make the top. This is just a small hole in a piece of wood.  This particular diz has several sized hole to make different size top. I end up with one long piece of wool. The feature of top is that all the fibers are parallel. I will be able to make a smooth worsted yarn from this preparation.

Then I take it and wrap it into a circle and pile it into a basket.  When I get a good supply then I will sit and spin it into yarn. I plan to make a 3 ply yarn from this top and knit a gansey type sweater. I don't have a pattern picked out yet but maybe something like this.  Of course it will need to be a bit bigger to fit me.

Some of you may think that its a long process and you would be right. But you see I get enjoyment out of every step of the process. There is a certain pleasure about having control over every step of the process. when I am finished I will have an incredible garment that you just can not buy anywhere. It will provide me with years of warmth and pleasure so its worth all that time to me.

What do you do in your creative life that bring you so much satisfaction?

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  1. Thanks you for the excellent explanation! I will have to try this!

  2. Thank you Carla I am glad it was clear. It is something that is hard to describe if you have never seen it.


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