Posted by: Leslie | November 7, 2010

Stansborough Grey, first combing

That’s my first combful of the Stansborough, in the dark grey colour. For experimenting I probably should’ve used the mid grey, since that’s what I have the most of, but that would’ve required careful planning. I decided on two passes, to minimize waste–I want a smooth worsted yarn, but I also want to have enough for weaving, which takes lots of yardage. After a single pass, it looked like this:

Still a lot of lock definition, which mostly disappeared after pass number two. I say mostly, because you can see what I discovered when I started to pull off the top through the diz:

Yes, a few locks had escaped me. This, along with the fact that I found there were a whole lot of shorter fibres left on the comb after I had pulled off most of the top, convinced me that this is a three-pass kind of fleece. Yes, it will mean more waste, but my top will be more consistent (since I won’t end up with nothing but short fibres at the end), and I can card the combing waste to use as a woollen yarn for the weft. Here’s the little birds’ nests of top, ready for spinning:

This wool is really, really soft. Also very slippery. I’m almost inclined to use combing oil but that of course necessitates another step (washing the finished yarn to remove the oil, lest it go rancid). I’ll see how much static I have to contend with after three passes.



  1. I flicked the ends before I combed it to open up the intense waves a bit. I think it really made a big difference as I can get a good sliver in 2 passes. Your pics are gorgeous! And so are your puff balls!

    • Oh, good to know… maybe I’ll try that too!

      • It is an extra step but I think it reduces the waste of the longer fibers that might get caught on the combs with the short stuff. (Plus it made combing super easy.)

        I am planning to spritz the sliver with some home made combing oil before I spin it. Let me know if you do. I would love to know the results.

      • What do you use for combing oil?

  2. I was going to make Alden’s Oil found on pages 369-370 of the Big Book of Handspinning. Do you have a favorite recipe?

    • I use what I came up with here. Robin Russo’s fabled recipe is interesting, which is a combo of olive oil, water, lecithin, and some kind of alcohol (not sure if it’s ethanol or isopropyl). I know the lecithin is an emulsifier but I’m not sure what the alcohol adds. Never tried it myself, though.

  3. I’m allergic to alcohol. Great link!

    • Yikes! Well, that’s a good reason not to use it then 🙂

      • Wait until you try the other shades! They are much easier as their curls were more open. Hardly any waste!

  4. That fiber is gorgeous! What kind of combs are you using?

    • I’m using Indigo Hound combs–not top of the line but they work well enough.

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