Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friend or Foe

This is my newest fiber tool. So far it doesn't look very threatening. This is a set of English combs, and they are used to comb wool into roving. In this picture they have a protective wood sleeve over the tines of the combs. The coverings are made of wood for a good reason . . . . This is what's under the covers. These metal tines are very sharp, and long. There are 4 rows of tines, and they range in length from 4 to 6 inches. These combs came with a mounting board, and you will see in a moment why it is needed.
After I remove the sleeve, and have the comb secure, I start loading the comb with fiber.
I then turn the comb on it's side, and secure it in this possition.
I remove the other comb from the holder, and begin combing in a downward motion, being careful to only comb the wool, and not catch the tines.
I comb the wool until most of the wool has come off the stationary comb, and then using the comb in my hand I comb it back onto the stationary comb. I continue this until all the tangles have been combed out.
This is a "diz". It's made out of mother of pearl. I really like the design, but aside from being pretty, it is also functional. If you look closely you will see that there are different size holes in the design. This is not a mistake.
If I want a fine roving or sliver, I choose a small hole. If I want a thicker roving I choose a larger hole. When the wool has been combed out, I place half of the combed wool on to the stationary comb, and pull it into a beard. I take a small amount and gently pull it through the diz.
Useing both hands in a leap frog motion, I gently pull about 2-3 inches of the fiber through the diz, and then slide the diz toward the combs.
When I have pulled all the long fibers through the diz all that's left in the combs is short nubby fiber. I then gently wind the roving around my hand to make a little nest, and throw what's left in the comb away. If I wanted to use the waste from the combs I could use it as a stuffing.
I am really pleased with how these combs prepare the wool for spinning. By having only the long fibers going in one direction like this, I can then spin this wool into a worsted yarn. What that means is that there are no air pockets in the yarn. This yarn when spun will be very smooth, so if I need a yarn that will show stitch definition this will be the type of yarn that I will use.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Washing My Locks

I thought I would try doing something different today. I had heard, and seen some other fiber artist wash their wool "in the locks". What this means, is that the wool is washed in a specific order with the butt of the wool and the top of the wool all in the same direction. In order to do this I need to keep the locks of wool stable during the washing process. In this shot I have some tulle laid out on my counter. I then take some locks of wool, (by the way this is a grey fleece) and lay the locks out on the tulle side by side, with all the cut ends (or butt ends) pointing down, and the tops pointing up. I then fold the tulle over the locks sort of like a burrito and secure with safety pins.

I set up my wash water just like I would do for any fiber, using very hot water, and my favorite wool wash. I gentle lay the packets of fiber in the water and let them soak for about 20 minutes. After they have finished soaking, I carefully rinse the packets out. I then put them in my table spinner to spin out the excess water, and then lay the packets out flat to dry.
This what the locks look like after they have dried and I have removed the tulle.
These are now ready to use on my newest fiber tool that I recently bought. I'll show you what that is next time.