Combing is an important process in the preparation of flax fibers for spinning into linen yarn. It involves separating and aligning the long flax fibers while removing any shorter or undesirable fibers, debris, or impurities. Here’s a closer look at the combing process and its significance in working with flax:
Before combing, the flax fibers undergo a series of preliminary steps, including retting (soaking the flax stems to loosen the fibers) and scutching (removing the woody parts of the stems). This prepares the flax fibers for the combing process.
Combing is typically done using a specialized combing tool called a flax comb or hackle. A flax comb consists of a board or frame with rows of long, sharp metal teeth set close together.
Aligning And Separating Fibers
The flax roving or tow is passed through the combing tool, and the sharp teeth of the comb grab and align the long flax fibers while removing shorter fibers, debris, and impurities. This process helps create a more uniform and consistent bundle of long fibers suitable for spinning into linen yarn.
Combing is often performed in multiple passes, with the roving or tow fed through the comb multiple times to ensure thorough alignment and removal of unwanted fibers. Each pass further refines the flax fibers, leaving behind a more desirable and consistent bundle.
After combing, the resulting flax fibers are transformed into long, sleek rovings. These rovings are ready for the spinning process, where they are drawn out, twisted, and spun into linen yarn.