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 Wool Combs/hackles Q
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tortadetortuga
New Pal

47 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2005 :  11:02:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit tortadetortuga's Homepage Send tortadetortuga a Private Message
I'd like to know what input people have on wool combs and hackles. I've done some cursory research and am already somewhat overwhelmed by the price and variety out there.

At this point I am looking into combs because I want to prepare fleece for worsted spinning and for blending coloured fleeces. I have recently come into some icky fleece with scurf and heavy vm that I still want to spin (despite its ickiness even after being washed) but an article I read in Spin-off regarding choosing a fleece says that carding will not remove it but combing will.

Should I get a set of combs AND a hackle? A single comb and a hackle?

I would like versatility, since I'll be doing mostly wool but some finer fibers like dog hair and cashmere (in my dreams) that may need to be dehaired.

So double row or single row? What is the difference in your experience?

I would like value, because...because...well, who wants to pay more than they should?

Do you have a brand preference (I'm assuming that here, as in most manufactured things, combs are not created equal) and do you base that preference on personal experience (use), customer service, anecdotal evidence from friends?

Can I use combs on greasy fleece to sort out minimal vm and second cuts?

And I'm curious about the sharpness thing. Are sharp tines neccessary? One of the first things I've always heard about combs is how dangerous they are, then I read a Lout auction description which said something like: Lout cares about your safety and have made sure that the tines are not sharp. Does it matter in your experience?

So, uh, I guess what I'm saying is: Anything you know about wool combs and hackles, please throw it at me.

I appreciate any input, any advice.

http://spaazlicious.blogspot.com

Fivefibers
Permanent Resident

USA
1131 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2005 :  12:31:42 PM  Show Profile Send Fivefibers a Private Message
Just get yourself a nice set of combs, preferably with at least two sets of teeth. Not the mini-combs, either. Use the big guys.. or at least the mid-sized ones, which are also available. I think mine are Viking combs, bought at Maryland about 5 years ago. You can get combs with as many as 4 (5?) rows of teeth, but I believe the double row is sufficient. You will then be able to comb the longer wools, while still being able to comb out SOME vm and the shorter fibers. Carding can cause problems for spinners if they try to card the longer staple of fleeces.

Combs are usually sold in pairs; with hackles, you can buy just one, but please beware! They must be clamped in place; you must then lay the fiber across and draw it through. If you are not careful.... ouch! Most people now use hackles (they come in different sizes) to comb flax or hemp; they can be used to comb wool, though.

You may not need to comb dog hair, especially if it is clean and knot-free; same goes for angora. I never comb my bunnies wool when spinning. Just holding it to the leader yarn and drawing back is sufficient to produce a fine yarn.

Fivefibers
2sheep; 3goats; 5bunnies
(so far)
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KathyR
Permanent Resident

New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2005 :  3:53:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message
Try and get hold of a copy of Spin Off - Summer 2004. There is quite a good article on combs and combing in there. Just remember that some combs are very heavy. If this could be a problem it may be better to try before you buy.

A metal dog comb (not brush) is very handy to comb staples of wool - not heavy and not sharp. Cleans much easier than a brush, too. Use it similar to a flick carder - that is, don't drag it through the staple but rather "bounce" it up and down. First one end of the staple, turn the staple around then work on the other end. It doesn't take much effort and you are rewarded by a lovely fan of wool!

KathyR

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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argoknit
Seriously Hooked

USA
711 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2005 :  9:12:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit argoknit's Homepage Send argoknit a Private Message
I have double-row Indigo Hound Viking combs. And so far I love them. They are quite the weapons though. The double rows are nice. They are economically priced compared to some and are pretty straight forward. My DH bought them for me as a Birthday gift and he liked the fact that they are virtually unchanged from the ones used by the Vikings and other early cultures.

I have been combing a shetland fleece and the combs have been easy to use, but they do give you quite the arm work out. I am contemplating buying a clamp so I can just move one comb to ease up on the arms. But the yarn that I have spun so far is beautiful. Well worth the price and time spent.

Good luck!

argoknit

http://photos.isaacsondesign.net/

[image]http://www.isaacsondesign.net/forum/dot.jpg[/image]
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Jessiebird
New Pal

28 Posts

Posted - 08/08/2005 :  10:16:40 AM  Show Profile Send Jessiebird a Private Message
This message is just what I was looking for. I am new to this forum.

I have been a spinner for a couple of years, but the only fleece I ever prepared was a joint effort with the woman who taught me to spin. Now I have just been given two Shetland fleeces (sheared yesterday). I'm a bit overwhelmed.

When I prepared that first fleece, I remember that it was already skirted. We washed it, then hand-picked it all to get the VM out. Then we drum carded (hand-powered) it.

I do not own a drum carder, and I'm not sure I'm ready to buy one. Not cheap! So what do I do? I have heard you can use a flick comb (correct terminology?) and spin from that, but that carding is a preferred step before spinning.

If I were to purchase hand carders (such as the kind mentioned above), would I realistically be able card two full fleeces? Even one? I have never seen Shetland before. The locks are long, like over 6 inches. TIA for any suggestions.
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Lissa
Permanent Resident

USA
4942 Posts

Posted - 08/08/2005 :  10:32:07 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lissa's Homepage Send Lissa a Private Message
Don't forget that you don't have to process the fleeces if you don't want to! You can send it off to a wool processor (Wooly Knob gets rave reviews), and for not a huge amount of $$, get back fiber you can just sit down and spin.

Lissa

"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian." --Dennis Wholey

Oh, and I now have a blog:http://knittnlissa.typepad.com/knittnlissa/
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pjkite
Permanent Resident

1198 Posts

Posted - 08/08/2005 :  11:15:18 AM  Show Profile  Visit pjkite's Homepage  Send pjkite a Yahoo! Message Send pjkite a Private Message
I like Shetland, merino and other fine fleeces - probably because I like to spin and knit what my DH calls hamster floss. I've sent fleeces away for processing, and do consider it for any fleece. But I also enjoy preparing especially fine fleeces myself. I own one pair of cotton cards which I seldom use. I also own, and use almost daily, a double-row set of Valkarie Viking combs (yes, they are heavy, but they work beautifully) and a set of double-row Forsythe mini-combs. For my preferred very fine worsted spinning these are the best tools. Of course they can be dangerous - so can a spinning wheel. Have you ever caught your fingers in the footmen or whacked your hand with the flyer? And I scratched my hand up sufficiently one day with cards to require a trip to the emergency room. Not to mention the various embarrassing accidents that have occurred with metal knitting needles. We use dangerous tools all the time, and I don't consider my combs any more dangerous than my kitchen knives. It's just a matter of using proper safety procedures.

I've been looking at a hackle lately myself, also with color-blending in mind. I still haven't completely decided on which one to buy, but I'll make a final decision at SAFF in October and bring it home with me. So I'm looking forward to following this discussion!

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

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KathyR
Permanent Resident

New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 08/08/2005 :  3:44:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message
As your fleeces are fresh, if they are of good quality you could try to spin directly from the staples with no further processing. Just separate the locks, fan them out a little and spin directly from them. In NZ this is a very common method! Great for getting hands soft from the lanolin. (Make sure you wash your hands before eating anything, though! ) Always spin from the same end (usualy the butt end) of the staple.

Try a small sample like this and see how you like it. A lot cheaper than any other method.

KathyR

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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Mike
Seriously Hooked

649 Posts

Posted - 08/09/2005 :  03:30:27 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mike's Homepage Send Mike a Private Message
I have a set of Indigo Hound Viking combs. They were sold to me used by a woman who was unable to spin anymore and wanted the room so she sold all her fiber stuff. They where such a good deal I couldn't pass them up but I've never used them, not even really sure how to use them but I know they will come in handy some day.

Which brings to mind another question, I'll post it as a new thread.

Mike
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tortadetortuga
New Pal

47 Posts

Posted - 09/05/2005 :  09:50:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit tortadetortuga's Homepage Send tortadetortuga a Private Message
Hi there;

I thought I'd post an update. I ended up buying a set of Indigo Hound English combs (the five pitch regular) from Bountiful Fibers. I haven't had a chance to use them yet--which seems unbelievable, I was in such a froth to get them, and now, suddenly, it seems I have a million other things demanding my attention. That's life. They have a very rough hewn handmade feel, but those tines mean business and definitely promise to get the job done.

************************
http://spaazlicious.com
http://lanasdelibelula.com
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