Odd Handspinning Terms: Carding & Combing Edition

We’re back with another batch of odd handspinning terms—some you’ll know and some that may surprise you! In her article “Wonderful Worsted” from Spin Off Summer 1983, Iris Dozer gives a list of words related to carding and combing wool. (Find a wealth of information about combing and carding in the Essentials of Hand Carding, Drum Carding & Wool Combing Collection.)

Odd Handspinning Terms: A Worsted Vocabulary

Backings—longer fibers left on the back of the combs after drafting.
Butt end—the clipped end of the lock of wool.
Combing wool—industry: fibers of wool 11⁄2″ to 6″ in length used in worsted spinning craft: fibers of wool 4″ to 10″ long used for handcombing.
Combs—a device used to disentangle, straighten and separate fibers.
Crimp—natural curl in wool fiber. Crimp gives wool its natural resilience and elasticity.
Donn—the act of placing fibers onto a comb in preparation for straightening
Doff—to pull of the fibers in an orderly fashion
Finger—small length of slivers (3’–4′)
Finger Draft—draft against the twist. Twist is confined to the yarn below the lower hand or hand closest to twisting mechanism while drafting
Hackle—wool hackles have a two-row set of tines which can be used to separate wool fibers much like a comb
Jigging—the process of combing the wool
Lock—a small individual grouping of fibers that seem to cling together when shorn from the sheep
Luster—a natural gloss or sheen characteristic of some wools and mohair. Three characteristics types: silver luster found in Merino; silk luster found in English crossbred-longwool breeds; and glass luster found in mohair and other goat hairs
Lustre—same as luster
Milkings—longer fibers left on the front of the combs after doffing
Noils—short wool fibers left on the combs after doffing
Pad—a wooden or metal structure that holds the wool combs in place
Roving—a twisted sliver or roll of wool, also called a rove
Sliver—a continuous strand of parallel wool fibers with no twist applied
Spindle draft—drafting done against the wheel

handspinning terms

A wool staple, or a wool stapler? Illustration by Nataliia Volyk/iStock /Getty Images Plus, photo by George Boe

Staple—the length of a lock of shorn wool
Top—a continuous untwisted strand of combed wool fibers made into a convenient package. Industry uses the sliver form wound into a ball of at least 1″ in diameter.
Woolen—short staple fibers, irregular in length and arrangement characterized by the adjectives soft, fuzzy, warm, bulky, stretchy
Worsted—long staple fibers regular in length, highly parallel in arrangement and spun into yarns characterized by the adjectives hard, smooth, cool, strong, lustrous

How many of these handspinning terms did you know?

Anne Merrow

Featured Image: Glow Images/Getty Images

Learn more about carding, combing, and handspinning terms!


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