The wool house presents 2

Welcome back y’all. (Or is that “y’alls” I can never figure that out. I was in a “Waffle House” in Tennessee once and the lady who poured my coffee said “Y’all want cream in that?” which confused me, since I was alone. Clearly, “Y’all” must be the singular, which perplexingly must mean that “y’alls” is the plural…right? Maybe this is something else Laurie can tell us, since she’s an English professor.) Laurie is back today with the one I’ve been waiting for, since I suffer a pathologic inability to Diz.

I’d also like to draw your attention to the sweater Laurie is wearing in the photos since it’s made of the yarn that this tutorial teaches you how to make.

Combing and Dizzing

My husband went to some trouble to record this whole process so I offer here some pictures of my combing and the process of removing the fiber from the combs with a diz. So this entry is short on text, but picture-rich.


Lash fiber onto comb. Turn comb sideways and lock in place (I use a Canadian comb set from Ray’s Woolcombs that locks into place nicely but so do a lot of others).


Start combing by swinging your moving comb into the tips of the lashed on fiber. I find that about a third of the way in works well.


Pull comb back (This is the “action shot” of which my husband is most proud!) Once you have combed the fibers off from the stationary comb, you comb them back ON from side to side (right to left):


Note that I lash the fibers back on the stationary comb and then sometimes reach around to hold them stable behind that comb. This strategy lets the OTHER comb do the straightening of fibers.

Now onto dizzing. First stroke the fiber into a nice cone and twist the end a bit:


Now you will pull that little tail through a diz; I use a small hook for the purpose, but a small crochet hook would work just as well:


You then pull the fiber back about a staple length, and then reach forward next to the diz and repeat:



Basically you are repeating these gestures until you finish the fiber on the comb:


You then coil the long roving into a nest and get ready for stuffing the pantyhose. I usually let the combed rovings rest for a little while before stuffing them into the amputated pantyhose legs, so we will take a break here to contemplate the joys of combed fiber. We can also consider whether the rovings are just too yummy to dye at all!


Steph here again…just a note, I have to tell you that Laurie and I have been friends for some time now and we talk on the phone, and see each other once a year and because she lives far from me I have never been in her home. This means that I have to tell you that I am absolutely shocked at how tidy it is in these pictures. I had expected more of a kindred approach to housework.

52 thoughts on “The wool house presents 2

  1. Just a note on y’all. The plural is “all y’all,” like “Are all y’all coming tonight?” You can also say things like, “Is that y’all’s new car?” I lived for a year in Austin TX, and everyone said y’all. So there y’all go.
    Must show that action shot of the combing to my son, who wants to spin!
    mary de
    ps, The first time I tried to post this, the machine told me that there was questionable content, ie the full version of TX!

  2. Y’all = one person
    All y’all = everybody
    My Texan husband confirms these definitions from my dad – who likes to think he’s a Southerner…..

  3. Yup, As a dyed-in-the-wool (I can’t believe I said that) Southerner, it is ya’ll – singular and plural. (Was born in NC and have lived in GA for 37 years.)
    I have to tell you, I’ve not been very interested in spinning but between you and Wendy, there’s trouble brewing!

  4. Ok, I’m from Georgia, and an English teacher, and I am not accustomed to ya’ll being used in the singular. It is more likely, considering that you were at a Waffle House, that the waitress had double vision due to being hungover.

  5. Just a bit of reassurance for Steph — the apparent cleanliness of my house is totally the effect of cropping the picture very, very carefully. Just behind my be-sweatered person as I comb there is a HUGE pile of bags and fiber. I mean HUGE.
    When I grew up in the south, I really thought “y’all” was all-purpose, both singular and plural. However, now listening to my sister on the phone, I think that when it is plural, you simply lengthen the second syllable. Yes, there is a second syllable.

  6. hmmm this is a conundrum. My West Virginian kin use both y’all and y’alls interchangeably, but my Missourtan kin prefer “youins” for all instances.
    Laurie, i don’t think i can do this, butu i love “watching” you do it.
    also, i’m wondering how to convince you to sell me some yarn….

  7. So, as much as I love combing (and I do, I really do) I have never warmed to the diz. My method is simply to carefully pull the fiber off the combs in as thick or thin format as I wish.
    Diz-y v. diz-free? ;-)

  8. Just to confirm what everyone else has said:
    y’all = singular or plural
    all y’all = plural
    y’all’s = posessive form
    And just as an aside, in TX “Coke” means any soda.
    Me: “Do you want a Coke?”
    You: “Sure!”
    Me: “What kind? I have Dr. Pepper and Sprite.”

  9. Laurie, you skipped Step One, which is “Get a tetnus shot!”
    The crucial point here, Steph, is that there is (shudder) no “y’alls.” [sic] While the subject may be singular or plural (though properly only plural, I think we’re gathering here,) the pronoun is only singular. Eh?

  10. Yarn Harlot Blog= quality entertainment, and quality education. I love this.
    I was born in Pittsburgh, where they say “y’ins” rather than “y’all.” And I remember when I moved to Virginia (I was 6) my aunts would correct my grammer, saying “Don’t say y’ins, that isn’t right, say y’all!” until I was reconditioned.

  11. Nah, there’s a y’alls, it’s just the singular possessive form. I believe that all’s y’alls would be the plural possessive, but I could be wrong. (It’s been a while since a Texan carefully explained the taxonomy to me.)

  12. Oddly, dd’s 4th grade English book discusses you’ns and yous, explaining that both are incorrect grammatically, but does NOT mention y’all at all. We are left perplexed. Well, dd isn’t perplexed, as she thinks “y’all” is a dumb thing to say. Of course, I like saying it even more since it makes her squirm.

  13. It has been mentioned here, I spent some of my growing up years in Kentucky and *y’all* was used interchangeably, but *all y’all* was heard as well. I think *all y’all* is a phrase from the deeper south, maybe Kentucky was just too borderline. I don’t think I ever remember *y’alls* being used. Could have been though.

  14. Sudden insight — perhaps the waitress meant y’all as plural in the royal sense, much the same as the Queen describes herself as “we”. The waitress obviously sensed your royal status as Empress of the Knitting World, Goddess of Mittens, Queen of the Fiber Kingdom, etc. A singular pronoun cannot hope to embrace the total reality of the Harlot.

  15. Laurie — thanks for the lovely dizzing pictures!
    And thanks for pointing out the big ol’ bag o’ fiber behind you. I was wondering if I was going to be good and ignore it, or naughty and snark about it, and you saved me from myself! :)

  16. Wow… that’s fascinating! It’s like magic!
    In that first shot, it looks like the yarn is kind of fresh off the sheep… is that right, or just me not knowing what the different states look like? Has it been carded yet? (My yarn arrives in neat little hanks and balls… but I’m interested in learning the earlier steps.)

  17. I don’t here “y’all” much around these parts, but here in West Michigan it is usually “yous”. As in “yous guys coming over later?” or “yous going to finish that?”. Singular of plural, its all the same. I grind my teeth every time I hear-it is a wonder I have any left in my mouth.
    Laurie-great pics and beautiful rovings. The sweater is a beaut too. And Steph, perhaps Laurie just cleaned up that corner of the room because she knew how many people would be looking at the pictures. Hope does indeed spring eternal.

  18. You should hear my younger kids with their Californian accents trying to mimic a southern one. Funny having one’s own not be able to do a decent y’all; and when they try, the effect is absolutely laughable. Hey, who raised you guys?

  19. My two cents as a Native Texan:
    Y’all – singular AND plural. All y’all is generally used to refer to a large group of people.
    I’ll offer “Bless your heart”. Uttering the words “bless your heart” allows you to say the most horrible things about someone with impunity. Re: “He couldn’t find his hind end with both hands and a map, bless his heart.” Or, more apropos to our purposes, “They probably dress their children in store-bought woolies, bless their hearts.”

  20. When my friend Laurie moved to Mississippi, her annual Christmas letters became my tutorials for Southern Speak. This is where I learned that it’s “all y’all”. :-)

  21. A comb! I yearn for a comb! I’ve been playing with a drum carder but want fresh roving that looks like what Laurie has made.
    [BTW: In the combing pictures, Laurie is wearing a sweater she wore at Rhinebeck last year. I didn't know her but our paths crossed a few times, and each time I stopped her to oooo and ahh over (and stroke) that sweater. The wool was spun (and probably processed) and dyed by her own self, and she designed and knit it. It is a thing of great beauty and extraordinary craftspersonship.]

  22. My jaw dropped at the beauty of that trick with the Diz. Until I saw your demo I never realized the point of using/owning one.

  23. Laurie,
    I have wondered for years why I have no luck in purchasing hand spun yarn from spinning afficionados.
    Your excellent tutorial shows me that there is way too much effort required when turning fleece into yarn for anyone to want to part with it.

  24. Well, I’m from Massachusetts so I can’t participate in this y’all debate. BUT, what I can say is that I’m amazed that someone (a long, long, time ago) figured out all this spinning stuff. It’s amazing.

  25. Hi, y’all! I’m originally from TX (why can’t I say I’m from the great state of TX spelled out? The content editor must have a dirtier mind than mine) and spent some time in Alabama before finally ending up in California. My grandparents and their friends would never use “y’all” for one person. “Y’all” is very handy for addressing a group of people, as “you” just doesn’t cut it. “All y’all” would be for a large group of people, or for emphasis, as when an aunt calls a group of children with selective hearing who assume the plain “y’all” is only for her kids.
    Laurie–I’m not there yet, not quite ready to spin, but won’t I be able to use what you say about dying to make some lovely undyed yarn into the gorgeous stuff you’ve made?

  26. Do what now? What’s all this malarkey about ya’ll being singular? Didn’t your mamas teach you ANYthing? One can be southern and still honor some of the basic rules of grammar ;)
    And ya’ll cut that poor waitress some slack! What she meant to say was “Ya want cream in that hunny?”, but as it was probably her third shift in two days and the five-hundredth time she’d asked it over those two days she was on autopilot.

  27. I wonder if we should let that waitress know just how much debate an odd word she said provoked :) I find it really funny reading about ya’ll, ya’ll’s, all ya’ll, all’s ya’lls, etc since it’s so rare to see them written. Makes me feel like I’m in a book by Mark Twain (did anyone else ever have to read some of the passages out loud to figure out what on earth was said?) I do have a letter or two from my Grandmother (Manitoban) with ‘yous’ written out when refering to my whole family though…

  28. AlisonH — it cuts the other way, too — as any California hearing a non-native try to say “Dude” (or actually saying “Frisco” — shudder!) can attest. :)

  29. Laurie, where’d y’all git yer diz? I have a couple from Amos/Gaustad that I treasure, but am always looking for another good one.
    Steph, what fiber did you find frustrating to diz? Laurie’s stuff looks as nice as it gets, fluffy free-flowing Romney, and she lashes on quite a lot, then uses a diz with a large-ish hole to get that luscious fat sliver. Mimic Laurie and it should be a breeze.

  30. Fascinating post. Good lord but those things look dangerous! Talk about sharp and pointy. I bet they don’t let those on the plane.
    Re: y’all
    y’all for one person
    y’all for a group; all y’all to clarify
    y’all’s for possessive
    Is that y’all’s car out there? All y’all fit in it?
    from years spent in South Carolina, Louisiana, Tx and Oklahoma (Southern Germany doesn’t count)
    [if it's got an e and a s and a x in it we can't use it?]

  31. So, what IS carding, by the way? I’m not sure if I can spin, I’ve never tried it. But I would love to get some ideas about handpainting yarn. Can you pain any yarn? What about white buffallo? Is is too frail to dye?

  32. Oh yes, and I must say, next time, could you get a better picture of the sweater? It looks soooo beautiful. YOu spun, dyed and knitted that? Wow! I don’t think I could knit that never mind the rest! :)

  33. Answers to several questions in no particular order.
    Andrea, the wool in the original picture and on the combs is, more or less, right off the sheep. I have, however, washed the locks. You can check the archives for Steph’s shetland “rat” locks. Mine look a lot like that. And because I work with/wash raw wool, I already had my tetanus shot up to date!
    Yes, you can dye yarn rather than roving using these same techniques. HOWEVER — your color repeats will be MUCH more frequent. I have yet ot figure a way to create gradations like those I can get with roving. Perhaps if you wound your yarn onto a broom handle and slid it into the casings from there… Have to think about that one.
    In any case, I am working on that bibliography requested yesterday, and it includes some links for dyeing that show a very similar process for hanks of yarn.
    I got the diz at Rhinebeck, and I really had to hunt for it. Woodland Woolworks carries bone ones, and I have one of those as well. The diameter of the hole is the same size as a Brittany size 5 double pointed knitting needle, AKA 3.75 mm for those who go by that sort of measure. And it is a largish hole for a diz. I have tried NOT using one, but I cannot get as even a roving. I very much admire anyone who CAN!!
    A full size picture of this sweater (with yours truly looking particularly haggard) is available in the Harlot Archives — October 20, 2004.

  34. I think you can’t spell out TX because of the recent popularity of the card game. I get LOTS of junk mail with that subject–How about y’all?

  35. Wow Laurie – your fleece is the most beautiful stuff I have ever seen. When I lash wool on a comb, it’s usually full of burrs, grass, and miscellaneous nasty stuff. But those locks were pretty enough to spin straight. Where did you get that fleece?

  36. OK. I finally have to post for my first time. Dawn, Chris, Melanie, Liz, LeAnne, Terry (ninjaknitter), and Aarlene are all correct. Y’all can be singular or plural. All y’all is more than one person. Y’all’s is possessive, plural or singular.
    I’ve lived on the coast of North Carolina all my life and have friends from all over. My relatives from Indiana say y’ouns and my friends from New York and New Jersey say you’s.
    So, even though none of them are gramatically correct, it would be a pretty boring world if everybody spoke correct english, don’tcha think?
    Happy knittin’!

  37. There is *nothing* as nice to work with as hand combed fleece. I am so inspired by your entries! I tried it once and I bled all over my fleece. Yet, you make me want to try again.
    Thank you for filling in!

  38. What are the steps between the raw wool and the lashing on part? how do you clean the wool first, or do you, and otherwise prepare it to be lashed on. This is a dumb question, but this is alternate to carding and rolags, right? i think it looks appealing to me … enough that i may try spinning again. Hmmm, maybe i should find a class somewhere, any suggestions in the westport, connecticut area?
    you inspire me!

  39. Oh, where in Tennessee were you? You remember I’m down here. . . don’t knock us. . . I’ve personally never heard anyone say “ya’ll” when speaking to only one person. And, geez, Steph–”ya’ll’s” ain’t a real word anyway.

  40. Y’all’re right, specially Melanie and Laurie. Y’alls is plural. All y’all is alotta folk. Y’all can be just one or just a few folk.
    I only heard “Youse guys” in Jersey… where it wasn’t soda, it was pop… Coke in the exasT urban areas is crack/crank/ice….. and isn’t even found at Waffle House.
    I can hardly wait to see if [big effen RED STATE} will come on through. (since T—- didn’t!!) Maybe if I write *ex*s……

  41. As a transplanted Texan, I have come to love y’all. I grew up in Maryland and we said you guys for everything–but y’all is non-sexist so works better, it seems. All y’all is pretty common for lots–but y’all is also generic for one or a number. I think it depends whether you are a west or east, central or south Texan as well. All different–I mean you can drive from east to west TX and it takes 12 hours or more! Big state (bad ex-governor, but we won’t go there….) Y’all is distinctly different in TX than in Tennessee (lived there too!). Texans draw it out and emphasize that one syllable. Tennessee–it has multiple syllables, depending how close to the mountains you are located. Of course, Texans also say fixin too. I just can’t do that one….

  42. i’ve wondered for a while about staple length and combing/diz-zing…can it be made to work for, say, angora? the bunnies want to know!!! thanks for getting us thru february!!!!

  43. Yikes! That is some spiky stuff. Kids and pets out of the way! But fun to see and read the lesson. Thank you.
    And thank yous in the comments for the Am.English lesson. :)

  44. I am appalled that it seems acceptable for “y’all” to be used in the singular, as its principle utility is in filling the void in the English language left by the lack of a separate second person plural. I am from Arkansas (seven generations in the South, not countin’ the Indians), and have never heard “y’all” used to identify one person. It appears that this trangression is a cancer originating in some part of that huge state to our southwest (the actual state name is “questionable content”) and moving across the South, turning what was a useful turn of phrase into a silly colloquialism.

  45. oh no! you have text spam too! My last post (ironically, it is on how much I hate spam) is littered with text spam–random words that are hotlinked out of my text. Does anyone know how to get rid of this?

  46. And here I was gearing up to explain t’ y’all about y’all and all y’all.
    I really should learn that if the post has been up for 12 minutes, there are 20 comments.
    I’ve been feeling a lot like Steph with the thumb lately. I’ve now reknit my sock toe 5 times. This means that my sock hasn’t mede it to 2″ long more than once… (toe up)
    I’d better like these socks. First it was thumbs, now toes. I guess that’s better than sleeves!
    Helen, worn out from two days of getting squat done in real or knitting life. I can’t even blog.

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