De-hairing Raw Pygora Fiber - By Hand
It's raining outside which focuses us on our inside chores today. And for the foreseeable future. Today, Matt asked me to show him how to comb out our fiber. Combing fiber, also known as de-hairing, is the process of taking raw fiber (with all tiny bits of hay, seeds, etc.) and removing the dirt and coarse guard hairs.
It's really the process of taking this:
And turning it into this:
This isn't 100% clean, don't get me wrong. You can see bits of darker guard hairs still in this cloud and I'm sure the discerning spinner wouldn't like finding the tidbits of rouge dirt or hay in here. At this point, we usually send this off to the mill for one more round of de-hairing on a machine, then they go ahead and process this into yarn. But boy, de-hairing manually is a time-consuming process for sure.
We first take a small chunk of locks from the goat and load it onto our Louet combs.
You can see the really dark fibers near the cut portion of this fiber. That's the stuff we don't want. If it gets near your skin, it'll itch like crazy. Next, we use the combs to separate the finer fibers from the coarser fibers.
The first pass takes out the majority of the guard hairs, but you can still see some on the bottom comb. We'll do another pass and see how the fiber looks after.
Here you can see we've finally removed the majority of the coarse guard hairs and are left with the softer fibers best meant for spinning yarn. At this point, I'll put the finer fibers in my cloud and throw the guard hairs in a separate bag (which I don't know what to do with...yet).
We do this for all of our fiber and this fall, we've got about four or five pounds to separate. Maybe it's time to make something that will make this process quicker. I'm thinking some plywood and nails... We'll work on something a see how it goes. Until then, happy combing!