Raised Hackles

After reading Deb Menz's book Colour In Spinning I wanted a hackle. What on earth is a hackle I hear you ask? It's a slightly scary, well very scary looking piece of equipment used for blending and combing fibres. They're particularly good for blending combed top which is one of the most common types of fibre you can get. They're also quite expensive. I was reading a thread in the art yarn spinners group on Ravelry which had a link to this tutorial where someone has made a hackle themselves cheaply.

Being financially challenged at the moment I decided it was worth giving it a go. It wouldn't cost much and would be a very useful piece of kit if it worked.

First I needed a load of hair combs. These were surprisingly difficult to find. I even checked the Afro-Caribbean shops on Moore St to no avail. I do think they thought I was slightly mad looking for a load of hair combs since my hair is very short. I found that they sell all kinds of tat on Moore St these days though. Eventually I found the right combs in Dunnes Stores and I grabbed five of them.

I got some metal self tapping screws and some clamps from the DIY shop. I found a piece of wood in the back of the shed that would work as base to screw the combs onto. All in all it cost less than twenty euro.

Dave was enlisted to help and he drilled two holes in each comb then screwed the comb onto the wood while I held the comb in place. It was pretty easy and didn't take very long. The real question was, would it work? 

It always amazes me that you can learn all sorts of things online that you never could without the internet. I don't know anyone person who even knows what a hackle is let alone someone who knows how to use one. You Tube however comes to the rescue with this video.


I lashed on the fiber like in the video. This is a selection of merino that was part of a mixed bag from The Yarn Room.  I used this fiber before when I carded it with some alpaca and got a nice fuzzy yarn. Actually I just looked back through the blog and I seem to have forgotten to write anything about that yarn. Ah well I'm sure it will show up here soon having been turned into a hat or something. 

I put different colours on in layers building them up until the combs were full. I then pulled the roving and threaded it through my diz. Now I hear you ask, what is a diz? Does spinning require you to learn a different language? Sometimes it feels like it. A diz is used to take fiber off a comb or hackle. It's just something with a small diameter hole so that the fiber comes out the same width when pulled through it. Lacking anything else I used a bottle opener that was handy.


Something magic happens when you pull the fiber off the combs. It all gets blended and mixed up together. I think the colours when mixed are much nicer than the individual ones. I pulled off all the fiber and rolled it up into two big balls. I'll spin these up on the wheel soon. 

The hackle was a success for something we knocked together so quickly. I think it will only work on prepared fleece as too much tugging on the combs would probably break them. I want it for blending fiber and it's perfect for that. So now that I know it works for top I'm going to start blending some of the fiber I have with fun stuff like angelina, silk noil, ribbons, sequins etc.  


8 Responses to "Raised Hackles" (Leave A Comment)

UnderMeOxter says
March 4, 2010 at 12:36 PM

REally enjoyed reading this post. I am loving that I have to learn a new language along with the skill through spinning. Ma brain iz asplodin'! What is diz? Diz iz a diz, dat's what it iz...

sheknitupthatball says
March 4, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Love this! And now I want one. The colour at the end is amazing! You are so brave to have a go at making it like that.

PlayingWithFibre says
March 5, 2010 at 1:24 AM

Where is the 'educational' button when you need it?
The colour does look fantastic mixed up like that. Hurrah for your mad DIY skillz (or man-coercion skillz?)

Dulcinea says
March 5, 2010 at 5:15 AM

That is seriously cool!

Skuld says
March 5, 2010 at 5:47 AM

Love this! Not at the blending and such stage yet - I actually haven't spun in ages, as I'm on a bit of a knitting binge right now (making Christmas gifts led to a crochet overload in December). When I do I'll definately be coming back to this post for the tuturial link though. I love repurposing items to make something really useful. And if the really useful thing would have been really expensive to buy, well, all the better.

julie says
March 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

wow, very interesting stuff, and i do love a bit of DIY/improv type stuff. Very impressive :)

chciwithstix says
March 20, 2010 at 11:27 AM

absolutely brilliant!!!!

Anonymous says
July 9, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Just waiting for my first book about using a drop spindle to arrive so this post has interested me greatly considering the tonnes of roving, batts and fibres lurking in my studio! Was it easy to take the wool off the hackle through the eye of the bottle opener???