I put the Wensleydale away before we left on holiday but before that I had grey wool piled up in various formats. The first stage pile is a messy one resulting from me pulling individual locks from the mass of wool and opening them up. The fleece was muddy and two soaks, two washes and a rinse wasn’t enough to get all the grot out. If I don’t open up the locks I need another combing step and that means more waste. It’s easier to open them up by hand using paper to catch the fine dust that falls out. When the pile threatens to topple over I put the bag of washed wool away and get the combs out. What comes off the combs is lengths of smooth roving with no sign of the original lock structure, all ready to spin. I’m putting those in a wicker basket (lined with a silk scarf to eliminate snagging) and when that pile starts fighting its way out of the basket I spin it. There is exactly the same amount of wool in the photo on the right as in the photo on the left, all of that big pile of fluff went onto one bobbin. So far I have four bobbins full of single, enough to start plying but I’m not going to do that until I have another three bobbins full. This is not going to be a quick project, the majority of my time is spent in fibre preparation, the spinning and plying are the last stages of a time consuming process.
The other fibre that comes off the combs is made up of shorter wool together with any tips that have broken off the locks and any second cuts. This is the combing waste although it’s only waste if you don’t use it. I’m throwing it into a carrier bag and then in the evening I sit and spin it into something thick/thin and lumpy. In the morning I chain ply it and by the evening the yarn is dry and there’s just enough to knit what looks like a small hat. Once it’s had a vicious hot/cold wash the lumps and bumps all vanish into the thick fabric. I want five of these little bowls, one for each weekday. The husband needs cash each day for the station car park but as a household we use plastic more than cash and so don’t generate many coins. We’ve had little piles of change lined up on the kitchen counter but they get knocked over so I’m moving to the five pot system. After that there will be a matching but larger pot to organise the free range rechargeable batteries that have multiplied and are running out of control across the breakfast bar. Only then will I be generating proper combing waste or maybe slippers, depending on how the mood takes me.
I don’t have a pattern lined up for the yarn, I’m not even sure yet whether I’ll be making a cardigan or a sweater. I have plenty of time to consider my options because I worked out that there’s about four hours work in a bobbin of single which means that there’s about 48 hours more work before I have enough yarn for a sweater.