Homemade Hackles

Earlier this month I ran out of ready to spin fiber (quite the tragedy, I know). I ordered some more fiber online but it takes a good week to arrive, so I needed to figure out something else to tide me over. Unfortunately, the alpaca fiber I currently have in my stash has been washed but not combed or carded yet. It’s also not quite nice enough to spin straight from the locks…so I had to get inventive.

I started spinning last year (First Spinning Attempts) so I really only have the bare essentials: a spinning wheel. My lazy kate is made from a box and a couple long knitting needles and I use the backs of two chairs in place of a niddy noddy, so I was confident I could come up with something to prep my fiber. After some consideration, I decided to create a hackle. I know hackles are usually used to blend colors, but I figured I could at least get the fibers to resemble roving rather than individual locks which would be a step in the right direction.

I used a piece of cardboard out of our recycling bin and a bunch of nails intended for hanging up pictures for my materials. Most hackles only have one or two rows, but I decided to add a third row because this hackle would also be doing some combing. I scored and folded the cardboard in half because I wanted to avoid the nails tearing through the cardboard when as I pulled the fiber through them. If I were making a more long term solution, I would used a stronger material (like wood) for the base.

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With my hackle assembled, I clamped the cardboard to my table, put some fiber on it and tested it out! I used a ring as my diz; probably could have done with a button or something else with a smaller hole, but it worked. I was able to “comb” about 50 grams of my fiber this way, though it was a touch tedious. The main problems I encountered was nails pulling loose. I had to be gentle and pull the fiber at the right angle to get it to come through without putting too much pressure on individual nails. Once a nail became loose, there was no hope for it, it would continue loosen and eventually pull through the cardboard. I was also lucky that my fiber had very little plant matter or knots in it. I don’t think this method of prep would have gotten either of those out of fiber.

While they were and interesting experiment, these hackles definitely don’t work long term. I should probably invest in a set of combs or cards if I’m going to continue to purchase raw wool. But for now, I have 50 grams of wool to spin, so that should hold me over until my next batch of prepped and dyed wool arrives!

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