Friday, May 31, 2013

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Have I talked about rolags and blending boards yet? It seems like I should have, but I can't find any post about it! I have a mental file folder of posts I composed but never actually wrote down. 

Scott built me my own blending board earlier this year.

Using a blending board is a novel way to prepare spinning fiber. It is like carding, sort of, but the fibers aren't usually carded quite as thoroughly as they would be on a drum carder. It is a great way to keep curly locks in tact or use a lot of add-ins. It is also a gentle way to prepare very delicate fibers. 
Once the fibers are applied to the board, then cigar shaped tubes are drafted and rolled off in to "rolags". Each rolag is spun from the end. They are a breeze to draft woolen-style, but also spin well with a worsted draft. 

A blending board doesn't fully replace a drum carder or hand cards, but it is another tool in the fiber arsenal. You can see a blending board in action in this video from Beth from Blue Mountain Handcrafts. She uses Fancy Kitty's blending board in her video, which I covet. 

Dear Santa, I want a 22 TPI blending board and a mini picker. And a Big Tom Wide drum carder. Actually, Santa, just bring me all the things from Fancy Kitty, ok? 

Ahem, I digress...

Every time I make rolags for the shop, I save a rolag out and spin it up.

Rolags from a blending board can be very smooth, especially if carded fiber is used or the rolags are blended more than once. Rolags can also be very textured, especially if you use locks of fiber, fabric scraps, or other chunky add-ins. I aim for somewhere in between -- mostly smooth, but not fully blended and attenuated.

I sent some of my first rolags to my friend Kara (the spinner, not the Kara that does my FO posts). My first batch was super smooth and made with already-carded luxury fibers. Kara managed 145 yards of a 4-ply sport from the few ounces I sent her. I managed another 600+ yards of a 3-ply from about 4oz.

The rolag used to make the yarn below was slightly more textured than the one used for the yarn above. Just like carded batts, the more you blend the smoother the fibers usually get. The fibers you start with make a difference, too. The pink yarns started with smooth merino, silk and some bamboo. The yarns below started with locks of wool, farm wool, and textured add-ins. When I spin these semi-textured rolags woolen, I get that slightly thick and thin appearance. I love that bouncy, barber-poled, slightly uneven 2-ply texture.


  1. Great post! I always wondered what those luscious rolls of squishy goodness was!



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