Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tutorial: First try at wool combing

The fleece I washed the other day was dry tonight, so I started experimenting with how to process it for spinning.

The Icelandic sheep's fleece has a longer overcoat, called the tog, and shorter, finer undercoat, called the thel. I'm thinking that I want to take advantage of these two different kinds of fiber. I'd like to use the longer tog for my warp thread, and the shorter thel for the weft. But how to separate it out? Here's the experiment.

First, I pulled at the butt end of the lock, where it was cut off of the sheep. There were some very short fibers there. I pulled those out, and put them in a 'felting' pile.

Then I loaded the butt ends of the locks onto the wool combs, filling about half way up the tines.

Holding the Viking comb in one hand, I brushed the other comb sideways through the locks of wool, first away from me then (carefully!!) towards me. This opened up the locks, and transferred them onto the moving comb.

There was some short nubby wool left on the comb. I pulled that off, and put it in the felt pile. Then I switched the full comb to my left hand, and started the process over again.

After a couple of repeats, the wool looked like this. That is quite a difference from where I started!

I pulled the tips of the wool into a point, and started pulling. I'd pull my fiber out a half inch or so, then move my hand forward and grab from the main bunch again.

This had the effect of pulling out a long, continuous roving. This is ready to spin from now. The current plan is to spin this on a reproduction Medieval drop spindle, worsted style. This should give me a fine, strong warp thread.

I stopped pulling the fibers when the bunch left on the combs were only an inch or so long. I figured that would be the thel that was left there. I pulled that off the combs, and ran it through my carders

Here's the rolag off of the carders. The current plan is to spin this wool on my antique Great or Walking wheel, using the long draw. This should give me a fluffier yarn for my weft.

And that 'felting' pile? When it got big enough, I went to the bathroom sink and made a felt ball for my cats to play with. They love these!

The next step will be to spin up the couple of combs full of wool that I processed this evening, and see what the resulting yarn looks like.


  1. i find this kind of thing fascinating! i knit like a crazy woman and would love to learn how to do all this someday!

  2. It is really addicting. I find I like making the yarn better than I like using the yarn!

  3. I don't know a thing about wool or hairs or spinning (maybe someday) but I love seeing what you do with it all. I bet the cats really do love those little wool balls!

  4. We just replaced our sofa downstairs. Found quite a few of the felt balls underneath the old one! I wondered where they all had gotten to. :)