Video Review – Combing Fiber

Combing Fiber Video by Robin Russo

Combing Fiber video cover

Combing Fiber video cover

During the Winter holidays I kept getting loads of email advertisements from Interweave.  Naturally I delete most of them with little notice, but one caught my eye.  It offered 60% off digital downloads.  Hmmm!  No shipping to worry about, and Interweave stores them on their site under my account so I can download when I switch computers.  I went to their site and found a few I’ve had my eye on for a while, and a couple I couldn’t pass up with their reduced price.  I thought I would share my review of them, one at a time of course.

Combing Fiber, with Robin Russo was a video I had not previously considered purchasing.  I’ve never really seen myself combing fiber.  It looks too tedious, and when I tried it during a workshop, I found myself less than impressed.  I didn’t think the results were worth the work.  Although we were only practicing, and not using fiber that we would normally need to comb.  There are different types of combs and I thought they looked like something I could make with a piece of board and some nails.  After watching Robin’s video I discovered a new side of fiber preparation.  The combs in her video have the obvious look of well made tools, not the board and nail version I envisioned.  I spent some time after watching this video trolling the internet looking for wool combs.  

St Blaise Combs, manufactured by Robin's husband.  Regular or Fine

St Blaise Combs, manufactured by Robin’s husband. Regular or Fine

I prefer to spin tops, and the only way to get a top at home is with combs.  Robin is obviously skilled, and a good teacher.  She displays, describes and demonstrates the use of several different combs.  I was doubtful when she claimed wool combing was quicker than carding.  She was able to make a fair amount of top in a small amount of time.  Had she not been demonstrating and slowly going through the motions, she could have processed a large amount of fleece.  Her husband makes two of the combs that she used, and they distribute them, and they’re not cheap.  She demonstrates the use of the Valkyrie or Viking combs, English combs, Mini combs and the Russian Peasant combs.  She explains how the different spacing of the tines are useful for different fibers, and how a single pitch (single row of tines) comb works differently from a five pitch comb.  I have to ask myself, “which one do I want?”, and the answer is, “all of them”.  

Russian Peasant Combs manufactured by Robin's husband.  Robin spins right off these.

Russian Peasant Combs manufactured by Robin’s husband. Robin spins right off these.

After her demonstration, I really want to get started with a fleece and pair of combs.  Her video is detailed, informative and the camera is able to pick up the details of what she’s doing.  Robin is articulate, and you can tell she’s taught this before.  She demonstrates how to comb the fiber to achieve the top you want.  She pulls her top off the combs with a Diz, her hands, and even spins directly from the peasant combs.  She doesn’t shun the carders either, and mentions more than once that some of the waste fiber would be great for the carder for a woolen spun yarn.  I was impressed with this video, and I think anyone who intends to process raw wool would do well to see it.  Combed fiber is the only way to get a truly worsted spun yarn.  Now to find a deal on some combs.  She and her husband manufacture and distribute the St. Blaise combs and the Russian Peasant combs, both of which are now on my mental wish list.

A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

2 comments on “Video Review – Combing Fiber
  1. Gillian Hillis says:

    Gainesville Handweavers Guild has wool combs available to rent, if you would like to try before you buy.

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