There are two main types of combs, English multi-pitch combs or Viking two pitch combs.
About all Combs:
- Diameter of the tines: the larger the diameter of the tines, the more suitable the combs for courser fiber
- Number of pitches (rows of tines): the more pitches generally, the longer the staple needs to be. If you pitch is longer than your staple there is nothing to comb.
- Spacing between the tines and pitches: the more widely space the less suited the combs are to the finer, shorter fibers.
- Length of tines: the longer the tines, the more fiber can be processed at once
Viking Style, Two Pitch or (Hand held) Wool Combs
- Description: these come in a variety of sizes and don’t need to be clamped to a table to be used. They generally have one or two pitches of tines spaced closer together. Some of these combs come with stands and clamps but are also easy to use with one comb in each hand while manually combing the fiber.
- Uses: Medium combs are used for almost all fibers from Romney to mohair, possibly even angora and cashmere. Small combs have tines placed very close together making them perfect for the short staple length of fine fibers, but may be unusable for courser fibers.
- Rate of fiber processed: the smaller the combs, shorter the tines and closer set the pitch is, the less fiber you can process at a time
These wool combs are comparable to Valkyrie or Indigo Hound but with custom tapered handles that fit your hands like a glove and beautiful round radius edges. The tapered design handles are easier and more comfortable to work with to be sure. This comb design was developed from customer feedback from our helpful customers and is now available for your combing pleasure. The wood is unfinished so we recommend that they at least be rubbed with Howard’s Feed ‘n Wax which is available through our website to protect the wood. They are some of the nicest on the market and reasonably priced with the highest quality stainless steel tines to last a lifetime of wool combing.
Wool Combs are a great tool to use for opening up fiber and preparing spinning fiber for carding. The Wool Combs when used correctly can help sort out various staple length as well as get rid of unwanted debris vegetation that is trapped in the fibers. Watch the video to learn how to use wool combs and why they are a wonderful tool when processing wool. Wool Combs have been used for centuries and were originally used with a gigantic freestanding hackle by large burly men. The Wool Combs they used were much larger than today’s wool combs and they were very heavy to move. These guys who used to work the combs had some serious forearms! Luckily today’s wool combs are much lighter and easier to use, we even have a clamp to use just one comb at a time to make things really easy.
How to use them!
I have one comb mounted because I have weak short arms and I am fundamentally lazy, having one mounted equals less work I am all for it!
You MUST have non-greasy fiber. Grease will cause your fibers to hold then break and you will hate combing what little fiber you can. Wash your wool fleeces with at scour that is designed to cut the lanolin. I used Unicorn Power Scour where a little goes a long way and it is none toxic.
Step one: getting fiber on the comb
This is known as “Charging the comb” or “lashing on” You lash on so that the tips of the fiber are out, pointing at you, that makes the cut ends the end you lash on. Here is why: Damaged tips from felting or sunburn will create weak yarn, we could cut them away but combing is easier. When we comb the tips naturally break at the weak point, keeping that weak point out of our yarns!
You must not over load your combs fill it too full and you will struggle to get the combs to pass through and you’ll be working too hard. When you are just starting, start with what looks like an under-loaded comb then build up to your perfect amount of fiber. It is a little different for everyone.
Step 2: Combing
Slow passes always creating right angles with the tines of the combs. They should be perpendicular never where they are stabbing at each other.
Start at the ends loading what a first may feel like nothing onto the combs, the smaller the passes the fewer times total you’ll have to lash back on to the mounted comb. As you draw the fibers on the swinging comb you may make a tiny down angle and pull back, this saves you energy, but over angle and you will start adding too much tension and end up breaking your fibers into short fragments.
Taking small amounts at a time also opens the fibers so that your second cuts and vegetable matter can fall out as you work.
Step 3: cleaning the mounted comb and lashing on from the comb
Once you have combed all of the fiber you can from the mounted comb, remove the extra fibers and set aside (this fiber makes awesome lumpy rustic or novelty yarns, or is a fun addition to felting!). Then you are going to lash one with the comb full of fibers. Think of this as reverse combing you are doing the same thing you just did only onto the mounted comb this should look just like step 2
Step 4: repeating step 2/3 until you are ready to diz off.
A diz is a tool used to regulate the fibers as you pull them off the processing tool. Buttons or needle gauges can also work as a diz. You can use a diz with a drumcarder, comb, hackle, or blending board. It helps you pull off an even roving. You don’t have to use on you can just slowly pull off your fibers by hand your top will be a little less even but still awesome to spin.
Step 5: Spin!