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Issue: #41 - July 2003

In this issue we learn about wool combs, and we continue our discussion of flax processing with more detailed information about flax brakes. Then we look at three Canadian wheels, a Picardy type, another tilt-tension variation, and an unusual wheel found in Quebec.

Wool Combs and Wool Combing

by Peter Teal

Peter Teal of Taunton, England, is an expert on wool combs and wool combing. He introduces us to the tools required. He was fortunate to discover some photographs taken in 1910 that illustrate the steps in the wool combing process.

Photographs of wool comber Thomas Hanson are courtesy of the
Department of Arts, Heritage and Leisure, Manor House Museum,
Castle Yard, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, England.

Thomas Hanson Lashing On
Here the oiled fiber is being lashed onto the comb. "Lashing on" is
very descriptive of the action, for the comber takes a bunch of locks and,
with a flick of the wrist, impales them on the comb teeth and pulls them
down to the comb head, spreading each successive handful evenly over
the comb surface.

Thomas Hanson Combing
This photograph shown the intial combing of the locks, or jigging.

Thomas Hanson Using a Diz
After repeated combings the fiber is ready to be drawn off through the diz.
The diz was usually made of an section of cow horn and had a hole drilled
in the center through which the fiber was pulled. This enabled the comber
to regulate the size and evenness of the sliver.


Give Me a Brake
by Patricia Jenkins

Patricia Jenkins of Lee, NH, continues her overview of flax processing by outlining the evolution of flax brakes. She takes us from ancient Egypt to modern machinery.

Images courtesy of Patricia Jenkins

Examples of Flax Brakes
Examples of flax brakes through the ages


Randle Holme on Wool Combs
excerpted by Alan Raistrick

Randle Holme from 1688 has some thoughts on wool combing, too.


A French-Canadian Picardy
by Michael Taylor

To add to our knowledge of Picardy-style wheels, Michael Taylor of Marietta, OH, describes a French-Canadian horizontal Picardy wheel he has acquired. He addresses some of the questions raised by Pat Bownas in her articles about this rare type of wheel.

Photographs courtesy of Michael Taylor

French-Canadian Picardy Wheel
French-Canadian Picardy wheel

Detail of French-Canadian Picardy Wheel
Detail of reproduction bobbin and flyer unit


An Unusual Spinning Wheel From Quebec
by Alvin Ramer

Alvin and Barbara-Anne Ramer of Colborne, ONT, Canada, enjoy traveling in Quebec in search of interesting spinning wheels. They discovered one in a style that is very different from the others that they have found there.

Quebec Wheel
Spinning wheel from the colleciton of Alvin and Barbara Ramer


Another Tilt-Tensioning Device
by David Paul

In response to Alvin Ramer's article about tilt-tensioning devices in Issue #38, David Paul of West Glover, VT, presents a variation on these devices that he discovered in a shop in Quebec.

Photographs courtesy of David Paul

Tilt-Tensioning Device
End view of saddle-type tilt-tensioning device variation

Detail of Tensioning Unit Base
Detail of tensioning unit base

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2003 The Spinning Wheel Sleuth