Wool Combing, 1, 2 or 3-day class

Wool combs may look like weapons from the middle ages, but they are extremely useful and productive tools for preparing gorgeous, smooth top for spinning. For this class, we will be using three different types of combs, English, Viking and Russian. There are two large sets of combs (one English, one Russian) and the rest are all smaller and lightweight, so they are easily maneuvered by smaller (female) hands. We will not be using mini-combs.

On the first day, you will learn how to use each type of comb, and how to choose which combs to use for your intended results.  We will be using a variety of different fleeces, and you will learn how to select an appropriate fleece for combing, how to wash it, and how to spin the top that you produce. If this is a two-day class, on the second day, you will work with color to achieve different effects. You will comb colors to create top with long stretches of color with an even blend between colors at the transitions. You will also comb a blend of fibers and colors to achieve a smooth, evenly colored top. If this is a 3-day class, you will add additional fibers to the mix angora, alpaca, mohair and silk.

Wool combs are not required, but if you have a set, bring them to class.

Samples of yarn spun from combed top, from left, Polwarth, unknown, Romney, Columbia, Lincoln. The Lincoln skein is Navajo plied, giving a sharp transition between the different colors. The other skeins were spun for a Fair Isle vest.

Fair Isle Sample


Forsythe Wool Combs and Spindle Spun Yarn

Lovely little combs and some comeback fleece for a spindle project.

Combing on Forsythe Combs


Color Blending for Smooth Transition and Same Colors in an Even Blend

I dyed three different colors, show as locks on the comb at the top left. I combed each color separately, then created a blend between each of the original colors, giving me 5 different colors. I split these in half, then spun two bobbins, each with a color transition from fuschia to lime green. I plied the two bobbins together. Where the colors didn't quite line up, I got an "extra" color where the two different colored strands overlapped. I can see from the swatch that I need to do more blending to create more gradual color transitions if I don't want the abrupt color edges that I can see here.

The light brown square shows all three colors blended together in equal amounts. This color surprised me! I had heard that blending opposites gives brown, but didn't expect it to be this color.

Blended and Solid Colors


Skein Showing Even Transition between Colors

I started with the five colors displayed on the right, then blended them to get the colors shown on the card for a total of 10 colors. I then spun the yarn using the original and blended colors so that there was a smooth transition between colors.

Blended Colors Skein


Color Blending for Fair Isle Knitting

I dyed locks of Shetland fleece in the seven colors shown on the right. I combed each color separately, then blended colors between each of the original colors by blending each of the adjacent colors to get a total of 13 colors (blue, blue-teal, teal, teal-olive, olive, olive-gold, etc.) I spun two skeins of yarn. One transitioned from blue to teal to olive to gold. The other transitioned from red to orange to light orange to gold. I knit the swatch starting with the blue end of the first ball and the gold end of the second ball. As I knit, the blue yarn gradually changed to gold and the gold yarn gradually changed to red.

The skein at the lower left transitions from blue to teal to olive to gold to orange to dark orange to red. The color sections in this skein are shorter than those in the yarn used for the knitted swatch.

Fair Isle Blended Colors