Wool combing and planking

Carding has generally been fine for me, but I was lucky enough to be gifted a lovely pair of Valkyrie wool combs by my generous son. They are the standard size, extra-fine version along with a stand.

I have written a post about acid dyeing some Devon/Cornwall long staple fibre here, which I am in the process of combing for semi worsted spinning. There is a link in that post to my YouTube video about combing the wool, but it is also shown below.

I talk about roving, but technically I am making combed tops.

In the video I am using the Valkyrie combs and a hackle; the hackle is not really necessary, just an interesting addition. Using a hackle means that you can put two full comb’s worth onto it, and therefore diz off a longer length of combed top. Having a longer length is not particularly important unless you wish to carry on to ‘plank’ your tops – when it can be helpful.

Planking involves a drafting the combed top a little bit, and then dividing it into manageable lengths; maximum just under a metre. Lie the lengths side by side with the staple tips in one direction, cut ends in the other. Holding the separate lengths together with one hand, split off shorter lengths (20-25cm) and lay these little bunches down, still keeping the fibre going in one direction.

Next these little bunches are lashed one by one onto the upright comb, and then combed as before. If using a hackle, the fibre can all be transferred to that before a final, longer top is dizzed off, but otherwise diz it straight off the comb.

In the video I talk about ‘roving’ but technically I am working with combed top. Roving is a carded fibre preparation. see Abby Franquemont in Spin Off for more information.

I mentioned a couple of UK makers/suppliers of wool combs, and thought I’d add links to those below. These are not the only companies, just ones I have noticed, so do do your own searches. You will certainly find some on Etsy, even 3d printed versions!

Wingham Wool

Ed Woods