15 May, 2009
Wool Combs Lesson from Indigo Hound
John and Carol Huff, of Indigo Hound in Delta, PA gave me a lesson in using wool combs at Maryland Sheep and Wool.
I found the Viking combs, pictured, a very good weight and size for me. They came with a useful instructional brochure and a catalogue full of wit and information with a lot more inventory that I had expected having before only seen one or two Indigo Hound products on other shops' websites.
Hope you can see the change in the wool before and after going through the combs.
ETA: when I first wrote this blog post, I did not actually write down what the lesson was. I find that this post gets a lot of hits. If you came looking to learn how to use wool combs, below I will recommend places to learn and give a few pointers from me. If you came looking for an Indigo Hound website, at this time there is no such site. They sell at festivals and by mail.
I recommend you watch a good YouTube video on the subject, like the one by Forsyth (user name woolcombs), Paradise Fibers, or Blue Mountain Handcrafts (bluemtnhandcrafts), or that you read the Indigo Hound booklet and Peter Teal's book Hand Woolcombing and Spinning. These will be much better than my few rough pointers, which I'll give now.
Note that the combs are held at 90 degrees to each other. The moving comb passes across the stationary comb held on John's knee.
To begin, you put wool on a comb. Take a lock of wool and drape the bottom of the lock over the comb's tines, and repeat until the locks fill the tines halfway up the comb.
You comb the tips at first. With each pass you comb deeper into the wool and transfer more and more of the combed wool to the moving comb. A little bit of waste wool will remain, with short fibres and snarled bits. Throw that away, then switch position of the combs and repeat the process. Once the wool is well combed, you slowly tug the wool off the comb so it forms a long piece.