Which Tools Do I Need?


Just in case you missed this in the February 2014 Newsletter...........

We have changed the waiting process, hopefully for the better. Beginning in June, and for each month thereafter, half the month will be designated for custom tool orders and the other half will be for tools ready to ship. Obviously, this will increase the wait time for custom tool orders. The custom tool orders, each equally important, will be for those who wish to have specific tools made from specific woods or combinations. The ready to ship tools will be tools of my choice made from my choice of woods, most not offered on our web site. These will be offered for sale as soon as they are completed on a Ready To Ship Tools page that we will create. I will also use this time to develop tools I have not had time to pursue.

I realize the frustration in waiting months for what you would like to have in your hands today, but I am the only one making each one from start to finish. This takes a great deal of time, more than you might think, but I will not shorten the process and cheapen the tools. Thank you for your past and continued patience. We are doing the best we can. ~~Eric

answered a question about when to use a 2 pitch comb and hackle set and when to use a 4 pitch comb and hackle set and thought I'd share it here as well in case the clarification will help someone.

I can clarify on when to use a 2 or 4 pitch comb and hackle set but please understand this is only in relation to the Blue Mountain Handcrafts tools.....as I've said before, there is no industry standard for tine diameter and setting so what one manufacturer calls "fine" another with the same setting may call it "super fine". With all of that in mind, here is what I tell people when they don't know which of our comb and hackle sets to get or have been misinformed.

STAPLE LENGTH: What staple length are you most likely to be combing?? The 4 pitch set will comb 3.5" and longer just fine. The 2 pitch set will comb your shorter staple length fiber as well as the longer staple length fibers equally well.

HAND/WRIST ISSUES: If you have issues with weight concerning your hands, wrists, etc. then I suggest the 2 pitch comb and hackle since the 2 pitch hackle comb is a bit lighter in weight than the 4 pitch hackle comb......this, obviously, is due to the 2 extra rows of tines on the 4 pitch.

TYPE OF FIBER: Does the type of fiber you're combing matter when choosing the 2 pitch set or the 4 pitch set?? No, it doesn't. Both sets have the same fine (by our definition) tine setting and will comb ALL fibers equally well provided the staple length is long enough given the pitch of the set to provide enough fiber sticking out from the hackle to be combed. I'm not kidding about this......I've combed many types of fibers on both sets and got equally nice results...Border Leicester, Romney, BFL, kid mohair, cria alpaca, cormo lamb, cormo, merino, rambouillet, tunis, suri alpaca, icelandic, and more cross breeds than I can remember.

WASTE: I've heard that the 4 pitch comb and hackle set creates more waste, is this true?? No. I actually did a test and combed equal amounts of the same fleece on both the 2 pitch set and the 4 pitch set. I got the exact same amount of combed top off of both AND the exact same amount of waste. Why does it appear that the 4 pitch set gives more waste?? Because you have more tines to hold back the VM, second cuts, nepps, and other undesirable bits, it looks like you are getting more waste and you are at one time BUT you do not have to make as many passes with the 4 pitch set to get the

 fleece clean as you do with the 2 pitch set. For example: you may have to comb a fleece with the 4 pitch set in two passes ( 1 pass= combing off the hackle and reloading) where as you may have to make 3 or 4 passes for that same fiber to be equally clean with the 2 pitch set. You will get less waste per pass with the 2 pitch set but because you have to make more passes the total waste equals out to what it would be with the 4 pitch set and fewer passes. All of this is very dependent upon the state of the fleece you are combing obviously.

In short, if someone is going to be combing lots of different fibers in a wide variety of staple lengths I recommend the 2 pitch set as I feel it is the most versatile of the two. Also, I recommend the 2 pitch set for alpaca specifically....it's easier to diz it off and

 comb. If you have longer stapled fiber and a lot of it to comb (production combing) I suggest the 4 pitch set as it would comb the fiber faster.

 Q:I was thinking of getting a large comb and the blending hackle for combing and blending fiber. Which comb do you suggest?

 I can tell you now that the large 2 handed combs are not meant to be used with the blending hackle….different tine setting and the large comb would tear your blending hackle up. I know it looks like you could comb a lot on the blending hackle but honestly you’re only going to be able to comb/blend as much as the comb will hold. Also, the blending hackle is not designed to be combed off of….the stationary combing hackles in the comb and hackle sets are meant for this.

However, you could blend on the blending hackle using our 2 pitch hand combs…they have the same tine setting which is a bit finer than the other tools and won’t tear up the blending hackle. If you are looking at combing out fleece that contains vegetable matter then I would suggest one of the comb and hackle sets.

Q:What’s the difference between the Art Roving & the Blending Hackle?

The art roving hackle has a 18” working face with a single row of 5” tines. This makes it easier to diz off of. The art roving hackle can be used to make smooth roving as well as chunky/textured art roving with whole locks, etc. It also makes a great “holding station” for hand combed top once it is combed off the stationary hackle (in the comb and hackle set).

The blending hackle has a 12” working face with 2 rows of 5” tines. It is also good for a “holding station” for hand combed top and makes smooth rovings. Due to the second row of tines it is more difficult to diz off of though. Using our 2 pitch hand combs (not to be confused with the large two handed combs) you can comb off of the blending hackle as they were designed to work together BUT you will only be able to comb as much fiber as the comb will hold at once (this is approx. 1/2 oz depending on the fiber you are working with)……….this is quite a bit less than what the stationary hackle in the comb and hackle set will hold.

Personally, I prefer the Art Roving hackle………it’s more versatile and much easier to diz off.

Q: ok, obviously you live in hackle-heaven and i see you do a lot of stuff with your art hackle. Now for a newbie starting out like me what stuff is your ultimate “go to” stuff?which hackle? which comb? which combo?

Well, I like to use the tools in combination the best and the comb and hackle set combined with the Art Roving hackle is the one I use the most. I use the comb and hackle to comb out fleece and “park” the combed fleece on the Art Roving hackle until I’m ready to diz. Since it only has one row of tines, the Art Roving Hackle is very easy to diz off of and when I diz off hand combed wool from it I get very little waste.

Q: What tools would I use to blend fibers (cormo, Rambouillet, merino, alpaca and angora) along with add ins to park on the hackle and diz off. I currently have about 5 lbs of Lincoln locks that I’ve washed and cleaned that need combed and about 4lbs of alpaca as well. I usually buy raw fleece and blend on the carder, but I prefer to spin with combed fiber. Any suggestions as to which would be better for me would be awesome. My current hackle only has 3” tines :( which is why I’m considering the art roving hackle.

Now if it were me this is what I would do given the fibers you want to process and blend. First off if I was looking at making combed top out of that much fleece I would want to do what I call “production combing” (just means combing in larger quantities) versus using hand combs (which you get very small quantities from) so I would go with a comb and hackle set. With that in mind and the fact that cormo, rambouillet, and merino generally have a shorter staple than your lincoln probably does and or your alpaca I would go with the 2 Pitch Comb and Hackle (you can comb out your fleece and blend on it)……..it’s great for shorter staple fibers but will also do longer ones where as the 4 pitch doesn’t do as well with shorter staples (less than 3 1/2”) because the depth of the tines “swallows” up some of the length of the fiber and makes it more difficult to comb. I would go with the Art Roving Hackle to park it all on as it’s easier to diz off of and I can get 3 to 4 combed hackles worth of fiber on it….I can generally diz off 3.6 to 4 oz at a time depending on the fiber. If you’re on a budget I would still get the 2 Pitch Comb and Hackle and use the hackle you have now with 3” tines. You won’t be able to stack as much on it (don’t over fill it or it will be a bear to diz off!) but you could use my “Ellis Technique” (explained in the Art Roving Hackle Part 3 Tutorial) to diz off fiber in one long continuous piece without a break until you had as much as you wanted.

Q: what comb do you suggest to go with your art hackle?

The Art Roving Hackle is not meant to be combed off of........it is used for making smooth and textured rovings, as a "parking station" for the hand combed top that comes off the stationary hackle in the comb and hackle set, and can be used to blend fibers much like a blending hackle would be used. With only 1 row of tines it is much easier to diz off of but would not work well to comb off of.