The point of combing is to align fibers, remove debris and increase the consistency of the fibers to be used in spinning. Choosing the right combs will make a big difference in the end result. I talk about this a lot when I teach classes that have any processing involved.
So, today let’s talk about wool combs terminology.
Pitch – Pitch refers to how many rows of tines are on the combs.
Single Pitch are preparatory combs. They get your wool ready for the next step. Or, another use is for combing double or multicoat wools when you want to keep all the coats together and not separate them.
Double pitch means that there are two rows of tines. You most often find this number of rows on sets of combs where you will hold both in your hands rather than clamping one to a table. Once you get beyond one row of tines you begin to separate out shorter stapled fibers, week fibers and a lot of the junk that may be stuck in your wool.
Mini Combs – These combs are small, easy to take to classes. generally single or double pitch. Often used for sampling or small projects. They can be used for a wide range of wools such as shorter stapled wools like Merino, to medium length such as Romney. The size of these combs can make combing long stapled wools (longer than 6 inches) more difficult.
Hand Combs – This is usually just another name for Mini Combs. Sometimes these are slightly larger than minicombs but still just single or 2 pitch.
Viking Combs – These are larger and heavier than Mini Combs. Again, they are single or double pitch and are generally recommended for medium to long stapled wools like Wensleydale or Lincoln.
Russian Paddle Combs – These combs are very wide with fine, short tines. These are great for separating doble coats and then spinning the shorter undercoat right from the comb. There are some great YouTube Videos demonstrating how to use them.
English Combs – These are the larger combs that many people think of when they think of combing wool. Usually these combs have 4 or 5 rows of tines. If you are planning on combing more than one full fleece in a year this is where you want to be. You use these by clamping one comb to a table and swinging the other comb using two hands.
I hope this helps. Next time I’ll talk about my method of using hand combs.
We’re going to talk a lot about this kind of thing at the upcoming Rhinebeck Retreat. Have you checked it out? It’s going to be super fun.