Spin Retreat ’12: Cormolicious Combing

Even though I’m taking forever to wash the silver fleece, both Mom and I opted for the speedy route when it came to washing our Cormo cross. And during our spinning retreat, Mom showed me up close and personal how she uses her new combs to process this fine, short-stapled fiber into perfectly spinnable top. (Mom got her info from a couple of videos, like this one. But as is our mantra, why not add a photo tutorial to the mix of overinformation on these here internets?)

Combing, according to mum, is most appropriate for short-stapled, superfine wools like cormo and merino; perhaps also pure ramboullet or finer corriedales.

Because Mom was careful to preserve lock structure when she washed this fleece, it’s easy for her to pull out a few locks. She slides the butt ends onto the comb that she’s clamped to the table (be careful, those points are sharp!) until the comb is about half full.

She then uses the other comb to gently pull the locks off the clamped comb. Here she demonstrates the sideways motion required; you can move the comb any direction but straight down.

When most of the fiber is on the free comb, there’s a little bit left on the clamp comb. She’ll use these leftovers to make her first bit of top. She starts at one side of the comb and pulls it off, moving slowly toward the other side.

A wee strip of soft perfection remains, ready to be spun quickly, easily, and deliciously.

The one downside of combing is that it produces more waste than carding. Here are some of the useless bits of butt leftover on the comb. Generally, these are the bits you wouldn’t want in your yarn anyway, containing nepps and other unpleasantness. If you were so inclined, I imagine you could save these bits to make felted dryer balls, which friend A turned me on to and I haven’t gotten around to trying yet.

After that initial tuft is taken care of, you can use the free comb, still full of fluff, to reload the clamped comb.

Now you have a new wisp from which you can pull off another wee bit of top.


I cannot say enough how delicious the results looked to spin, and how I felt just a little bit covetous the whole time. (Like I have time or room for another piece of equipment… wait, in our new house, I kind of do.)

Mom spun up some lofty singles from both the lighter and darker parts of the fleece, and plied them in such a way that we could see all different color combinations. It’s so cushy and soft and smooth! I’ve decided I’m going to finish with the silver first, but boy-o… am I excited to take a whack at this sometime in the not-so-distant future.

3 thoughts on “Spin Retreat ’12: Cormolicious Combing

  1. This was very exciting. I was thrilled to see how the blue fleece turned out (yes, it DID dye blue!) and how this cormo combed up. I can’t wait to spin all this…..for now I’m working on finishing the alpaca fleece I started…that has quite a story that I’ll write about as soon as I’m done.


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