Rolags are small hand blended rolls of fiber ready to spin from either end. I love them a lot and here are some reasons why.
1. They are great for beginning spinners. You don’t have a big bundle of fiber to manage. Roving and batts can feel like a huge, unwieldy chunk in your hand. Tearing them down sometimes feels a bit sacrilegious, or maybe you aren’t quite confident in your joining skills yet (although the answer to that is practice!). At my January spinning retreat we were all laughing about the way I hold a bundle of fiber. I admitted I hold my bundle “like an animal” and people laughed and denied it, but I was telling the truth.
2. Rolags are easy to spin on a hand spindle or wheel.
3. You can create a very unique yarn by spinning two different sets of rolags and plying them. We all spin because we want to make something unique, right? Rolags make that so easy.
4. There don’t seem to be any ugly rolags. As an experiment, I’ve purposely tried to make ghastly combinations. I’ve blended colors that brought some very unpleasant images to mind, and they turn out fabulously. I just don’t think is possible to make unsightly rolags.
5. They spin up quickly and who doesn’t love instant gratification? I know I do, and I’m certain that everyone can see a time and place for it. Sometimes we want a big complex project that really grows our skills and sometimes we want candy – a project that is pretty and easy and gives us quick and beautiful results. Rolags are for the times you want candy.
6. They are unique combinations of fiber that are difficult to get in any other way. You can get this if you work with batts, which brings you back to that big bundle of fiber to handle. Rolags are different than batts in other ways, you can better see what is coming with rolags. Don’t get me wrong, batts have their uses, and I love them. But rolags are much easier to spin, and you get beautiful blends of gorgeous fibers in them, just like in a batt.
7. You can buy or make ones that are sparkly. Many of us love a little sparkle once in a while. If you don’t, no problem, just buy or make yours tinsel-free.
I personally love it sparkly.
8. You can experiment with expensive fibers without spending a lot of money. Since rolags are made in small amounts you can play with things like camel, yak, and quiviut without breaking the bank. That’s always nice.
9. You can get color combinations that are impossible to achieve by dyeing roving. Rolags are made from fibers dyed previously, so you get cool striping effects and can blend colors that would make a mud color if you painted them on the same roving.
10. They expand your horizons as a fiber artist by introducing you to new fibers. You’ll never know if you love camel, rose fiber or llama if you don’t work with it, right? Rolags are one of the few ways you can play with unusual fibers. One of the reasons we spin is to grow and learn, and trying new fibers feeds this.
11. Bonus Reason – Wool rolags are wonderful for hand felting. They can be torn apart to separate the colors, or unrolled and used as is for a more free form work. And you thought rolags were just for spinners.
I hope I’ve convinced you to give rolags a try. You can find them all over Etsy and, if you are lucky, at your local fiber festivals. Here are the rolags currently available in my Etsy shop in case you are in the mood for a bit of fiber porn.
I’d love to hear about your experiences spinning rolags or about your plans to do so, please comment below to share them with me.