Combining Different Fibers

*I meant to say I have wool, ANGORA and mohair. Edited for correction! * I want to make sock yarn. I have Leicester wool, angora and mohair that I would like to combine to spin. I have the percentages I need for each one, but after some research I still have not figured out how to combine them. I understand that combing is the way to go for sock yarn, because it produces fibers going all one way for a smooth strong yarn. I would assume the first step would be weighing out the percentages I need of each one. But then what is next? How do I get the right percentages of the three fibers into a rolag? Do I try to combine on the combs? Or do I comb each one, then try to combine after that?

Hi [USER][/USER] I made a mistake in my original post. I meant to say “angora” not “alpaca”. I wanted to add a little angora for softness. I am starting to read the Interweave article, very helpful! I have 2 spinning wheels, drum carder, hand cards and am bidding on an auction on combs, but I am not proficient at any of the skills. I may have used the term “rolag” wrong. I watched a video where they pulled the combed yarn and then slightly turned it into a loose knot for storage; I guess that is what I meant. As you can see, I really need help and advice as I would love to better my skills. Thanks for replying, you have been very helpful!

Ahhhh! Angora is also incredibly warm, but one of my favorite pairs of socks were lace and were spun and knit out of pure angora from my rabbits. I came across them just the other day, in almost new condition, since they were too warm to wear during the 21 years we lived in the desert.
I am glad you like the Interweave article. You sound like me—I also have plenty of spinning wheels and carding equipment, including a pair of mini-combs. And while the hand cards definitely have a place, my hands don’t like them too much. The same thing is with the combs, although they are easier on my hands. My favorite piece of fiber prep equipment these days is my blending board, which I made from a cutting board and some carding cloth. I can place fibers on it exactly where I want them—layers, stripes or spots of fibers and/or colors, and then pull them off between 2 dowels to make rolags or punis, or take the entire batt off the board to spin or felt. The rolag is made when you use hand cards to make a batt and roll it from the front end to the back of the carders.

I do like the terminology of combing, though. After you load the combs and comb the fiber (or just load a hackle, if you are blending fibers or colors), you diz it off to create the top then the top is coiled into a nest, which is then ready to spin. It just sounds so pretty.

You can produce a fiber similar to top with my blending board. It isn’t perfect but certainly good enough for what I want to produce. I line the locks on the board in the same direction and use a hand card to smooth it down and keep adding layers - all with the locks in the same direction. When I pull it off and reblend I still keep the locks lined up. It makes a really nice smooth yarn.

I love my blending board!

Sort of on the same subject: Do you diz it off the blending board when trying to create a worsted-ish prep? The reason I ask is that I ordered some blending board cloth to make a board and I am hoping to blend flicked locks in their natural gray to make a very even, traditional heathered yarn. The locks on this fleece vary from light gray to charcoal gray and I have them sorted so I can control the proportions. But I wondered if I should apply them in overlapping layers like shingles or more top-to bottom as seen in the typical way shown in videos for art yarns. Any thoughts?

Carlota - I have not advanced to using a diz. It’s on my list of things to learn to do. I should probably say here that my blending board is not a typical blending board. My hubby made me a drum carder but it didn’t have enough torque to blend a full batt. He got busy so rather than letting it sit for years, I asked him to take the carding cloth off and make me a blending board. My blending board used all the carding cloth that went around the drum carder. I can make full batts on my “blending board”.

Depending on what I want to try to accomplish, I either pull the fiber off the board in strips from top to bottom - again- keeping the strips orientated the same direction so I can spin them that way. Or roll it off sideways for a pseudo-top (which I’d then tear into strips before spinning (it’s easier to store in the roll than strips if I am making many batts. Or I roll it off top to bottom to spin from the fold. This is where I will learn to make rolags someday. I think that they will overlap themselves as you blend and pull apart and blend again. As long as they are kept running the same direction cut to tip or tip to cut edge, you would be fine in my book. I don’t see how you can’t overlap the fiber a bit.

It’s the rolling direction of the rolag or fauxlag that finishes the definition of the fiber prep. From what I understand, aligning fiber tip to butt and spinning in the same alignment gives you a worsted yarn. I’m more of a “produce the yarn I want” person than a ‘prep it right’ person. I only worry about the hows so I can repeat that type yarn again.

Thank you - that is all very helpful. The blending cloth arrived today and I will soon have a go. I see that there are many ways to get the fiber to stick together and I will probably stay with whatever is easier until I get the feel of it.

Yes, I sure do love the feel of socks with angora, makes me feel so cozy in the winter! I have only experienced store bought ones so far. I think I am going to try weighing and measuring, and placing on combs when I get them.

Carlota I think that’s a great plan. Work with it a bit to see what happens then start worrying about doing it one exact way or another. I’ve never had any problem getting the fibers to stick together unless I’m blending fibers with different weights (like silk). It’s easy to get a blob of the silk in one spot. Some people like that, I don’t.

Question About Adding Sparkles: I have some Angelina/Chrystalina fiber for adding to fiber on my blending board. I have never had sparkley anything, so I am wondering if it is itchy??? I know I could do a sample, but if anyone has any opinions before I get carried away, I’d love to hear them. :slight_smile: I was thinking of blending it with hand-dyed KP Stroll sock roving.

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I’ve made socks out of yarn with sparklies in it and not had a itch problem. But I don’t consider wool yarn itchy to begin with.

@crosstitchlinda I decided to jump in with both feet and go for it. I used it sparingly, though.

Just saw this post. How did it turn out? I would bet it wouldn’t be itchy.

@rkennell, I have only spun a few small rolags, and not plied any of them yet, but I will update when I do.