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Building a Hackle

For about a month now, I have been determined to make my own hackle. A hackle is a tool for blending spinning fiber and/or for pulling your own roving out of fleece. Unfortunately, all the lovely professionally made ones have giant metal tines which made me uncomfortable. Four inch tall sharp metal spikes and five year old fingers just do not mix in my mind. Of course, the all powerful internet had the answer, in the form of a Homemade Hackle Tutorial. All told, I spent about $15. You could spend less if you already have clamps. (I find that folks don’t tend to give women tools as gifts like they do men. I think this is a small mistake. But now I can add clamps to small collection of hammer, screw driver, and needle nose pliers.)

My supplies: six hair picks, about a dozen screws (you can see size and type in the picture. My dad, whose hand will be featured in this post, said those would be best, I don’t know why), two medium size spring clamps, a washer to use as a diz once the hackle is complete, and a piece of scrap wood. You want to use a good hard wood. My dad just happened to have a perfect size piece of poplar laying around because he does a bit of carpentry here and there. We also discussed buying a piece of oak from the big box hardware store–about $5-$7–which we would have to cut to size. If you live in a place with actual lumber yards, or know a carpentry enthusiast, you might be able to find something extra cheap or free.


Measuring to center the picks on the wood.


We used a power drill to pre-drill holes in both wood and picks. When it came time to add the screws, the torque on the drill was too powerful and kept throwing the pick on the floor, so we ended up using a socket wrench. It didn’t really take any longer than a drill would have.


It would have been better if you could find all large picks so you could have two screws per pick. The ones with only one screw tend to be a bit less stable, though they still work just fine.


Clamped to the kitchen table. Loading the hackle for the first time with some local mystery fleece. My first ball of roving was a little rough, but I improved as the day went on. (For instance, I think it’s better to load the hackle in layers rather than clumps.)


My first little bump of handpulled roving. I made my hackle big enough to do about an ounce at a time, and I made three ounces of this blend yesterday. It’s the local mystery wool, some white alpaca, the merino/silk top I was bored with (much more fun to me in this form, for the record), my purple mohair locks and some purple firestar.

I am hoping for a arty-tweedy sort of yarn, which I was dreaming about weaving with last night, even though I don’t have a loom. I’ll post an update as soon as it’s spun!

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Teasing: What I did in July

So, I posted my spinning from the first day of the Tour de Fleece, and since then there has been blog silence. I realize it’s been a month, but I have been working hard. What follows is just a peak of what I’ve been up to.

Here is the rest of my TdF spinning:

Hummingbird Handspun from Cosymakes Farm Wool Club
Humming Bird Corriedale from Cosy Makes

Brown Shetland Handspun
Natural Brown Shetland

Brown Shetland and Fawn Alpaca Handspun

A Little Bit of Brown Shetland plied with a sample of Fawn Alpaca

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My First 3-Ply! BFL in Stina from Blue Dog Fibers

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Some Targhee/Mohair from Cosy Makes again. Not a great picture, but really great yarn, and fun to spin. I. Love. Mohair.

I dyed some Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, which is so soft I want to sit and snuggle with it more than anything else. I have been working on some autumn colors and am completely in love with this amber/gold.

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Despite the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in Kansas, I am still managing to get some work done.
Knitting has been flying off my needles in the form of test knits for the shop. Expect photos of those to come!

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Big Update

I have been working hard over the past few days to build the inventory back up in the shop after my sneak attack. Five new items are up today, and a couple of things that are waiting to dry and be photographed. My favorite is the top you see pictured above. It is the most gorgeous blue face Leicester and silk spinning fiber. It’s so shiny and soft I want to keep it for myself.

This week has been kind of crazy. On top of the sneak attack and spending all day Wednesday dyeing, I turned in my essay on Tuesday and had it critiqued on Thursday, both of which were nerve-wracking. Everything went really well, and I felt silly for getting nervous, but it always happens before a workshop, and it wears me out.

I got a little creative with my hand carders, and blended some silk with a little bit of the white alpaca roving I have laying around, and it got really, really fluffy. And then I spun it, and it was still really, really fluffy. It looks ridiculous and soft. I will take a picture when there is enough to photograph. For now, I am am attempting to finish my Mondo Cable Jacket, because the plan was to wear the jacket when I go to Denver to visit my sister, Audrey….Which is six days away. I am kind of behind. I still have most of a sleeve to knit as well the collar, so I am about two weeks away from finishing with the way my schedule is going. Two weeks . . . six days. I can do it. I might not sleep, but I can do it.

Oh, and did I mention I learned to crochet on Sunday? Have I actually crocheted anything yet? Nope. But I have a skein of yarn with a crochet hook in it sitting in my knitting basket. I call that progress.