What is a Diz and why do you need one? hand dyed wool fibre preparation

What is a Diz and Why Do You Need One?

What is a diz, and why do you need one? Together with a good set of hand carders and a flicker, a diz may be one of the cheapest and more useful fibre prep tools you can get. If I had to choose, I would go as far as having a set of hand carders and my set of dizzes as my only fibre tools. They are versatile and extremely compact.

What’s a Diz For?

After you jump out of a flicker or the “dog brush” (as your first fibre tools), most people acquire a set of hand carders. Hand carders are an incredibly handy tool. It allows us to blend colours, as Diana Twiss shows us in the Colour & Fibre Play course adding Spinning Mix-ins for a textured preparation. Some fibre artists only use them to prep rolags, but what if you want a fibre preparation closer to commercial roving?

That’s where the diz comes into play. A diz, as explained by SOS instructor Kim McKenna in The Ins & Outs of Diz Design, is a tool used to remove a length of fibre, called a “sliver,” from your wool combs or a hackle. If the fibre is removed from hand carders or blending boards, it is called “roving.”

What is a Diz and why do you need one?
Assortment of dizzes, including my first plastic “diz” which I promptly upgraded to my wood collection, diz threader, and hand-dyed Corriedale fibre in Farm to Table colourway.

The Ideal Diz

The diz is a small disc or plate with a hole in the centre. The hole, when fibres are pulled through, separates and organizes the fibres into a consistent and even strand. A well-designed diz will help you work smoothly with a beautiful sliver or roving ready to be spun.

The ideal dizzes are 2″ / 5 cm in diameter and lightweight. They also have either a more concave or conic shape. The higher the curvature, the denser the sliver produced will be. Watch Kim McKenna’s lesson for an explanation of the anatomy of diz & dowels.

Worsted Spun Preparation

A diz is typically used when preparing fibre for worsted spinning, where all the fibres are aligned in the same direction. Worsted spinning produces a smoother, stronger, denser yarn with less air trapped inside, making it ideal for fine yarns and knitting and weaving.

When using a diz, the fibre is combed first to align the fibres in a parallel manner. Then, the diz is used to pull the prepared fibre through the hole, creating a continuous strand of evenly distributed fibres. This fibre preparation, spun with a worsted draft, will create a smooth, dense yarn.

What is a Diz and why do you need one? Greta Cornejo dizzed hand dyed fibre preparation
Hand-dyed fibre dizzed (left), hand-dyed fibre before being dizzed (right), bobbin full of singles (above), dizzed used for fibre prep (centre)

Woollen Spun Preparation

Woollen spinning, on the other hand, produces a loftier, fuzzier yarn that’s better suited for items like blankets. But, sometimes, you may want your yarn to be lighter and loftier than a worsted yarn, but still be smoother and denser than a woollen yarn. That’s when opening up the fibres passing through carding cloth, whether it’s from a blending board or a hand carder clamped to a table, AND dizzing off (or doffing for short) with a diz will be just the right balance for the yarn you want to spin.

You can see a demonstration of Kim McKenna dizzing off roving from a hand card and you can see a tutorial on How to Prepare Roving for Spinning with a clamped hand card to the table.

If you like loftier yarns, this preparation is a dream to spin. Just remember to write down on your control card how you prepped your fibre so you can do the rest of your fibre the same way.

I am curious to know if you have used a diz before for your fibre prep. Do you find it as useful as I do? Please, do share with us in the forums.

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