Rolag Q&A


We get a lot of questions about one of our newest product, rolags.  I thought it would be helpful to have a post to point people to.  Hopefully I’ll answer all your questions, if you have more please let me know and I’ll update the post!

1.  What the heck is a rolag?  A rolag is a specific type of fiber preparation, especially created to be super easy to spin.  Here’s a little eye candy.

IMG_5056
Merino Wool, Silk and a bit of Sparkle

2.  What’s the advantage of a rolag over some other type of fiber?  Rolags are blended fibers, usually custom dyed (ours are), with the fibers all running in roughly the same direction. You can blend any fiber you care to.  So, we may use something pretty “standard”, like merino and silk – and sometimes we use something unusual, like rose fiber or yak fiber.  Strands of glitter can be included if you like it blingy.  Rolags can be used to make color and fiber combinations that are hard to achieve by just dyeing.

3.  Are rolags easier to spin than roving or batts?  It depends.  For me, batts can be more challenging to work with, because their fibers can be a bit more disorganized.  You can see from this picture how the fibers are looser and the fiber is in a bigger piece.  Rolags can be less intimidating because they are smaller and easier to hold.

I almost always spin using a top whorl drop spindle, because the cats won’t leave my spinning wheel alone if I leave it out, and I’m usually too lazy to go drag it out and then put it away.  I personally prefer rolags over batts for the hand spindle.   More expert spinners can spin batts with no problem at all on a hand spindle.  I’m just not there yet.

It can be harder to get a smooth yarn, especially if you are a beginning spinner. Sometimes a lumpy art yarn is what you want, so batts are certainly useful.  And, no argument, they are very beautiful!

purple lamb battThe gorgeous batt is from Purple Lamb on Etsy. It’s called Precious Metals and is a combo of Mulberry Silk, Alpaca, and Bamboo.  It’s really spectacular!   You can find it here. There are lots of other gorgeous fibers there too!  Go take a look.  I’ll wait.

Batts are very versatile and can be handled in a number of ways (that’s for a future post).

4.  Why are rolags more expensive than batts or roving?  There is more work (and time) involved.  To create rolags you need fiber (dyed or undyed – someone has to dye the fiber), a special blending board, and plenty of time.  The fiber is blended, then pulled of the board to get all the fibers running the same direction.  Typically a board of fiber is made into 3-5 rolags.   One way to think of it is that a batt is the whole board of fiber rolled up and folded, and the rolags are the same board of fiber pulled and stretched out into small tubes.  Obviously that takes more time and work.

5.  Do I need a spinning wheel to spin rolags?  Absolutely not, we both use hand spindles to spin rolags.  Cheryl doesn’t even own a wheel!  Hand spindles do a great job with rolags and they are very inexpensive.  Why spend money on a tool you may not enjoy using?  Start with a low cost spindle.  You will soon be quite good at spinning.  It’s like any other skill you’ve learned during your life.  Remember learning to ride a bike?  I thought I’d never get it, one day it just happened.  Practice is the key!

Give rolags a try, you don’t need any spinning experience at all to get a nice thick and thin yarn that you can make into a beautiful headband or baby hat.

I leave you with some more beautiful rolag photos.  Because we all love fiber eye candy!

silk and wool rolags
Hand Dyed Silk and Wool

 

Hand Dyed Alpaca, Yak and Silk
Hand Dyed Alpaca, Yak and Silk

 

Wool And Sparkle
Hand Dyed Wool And Sparkle

 

Give rolags a try – I’d love to see what you create with fiber spun from rolags.

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Hand Dyed Fibers – Brights

Last week I competed four new hand dyed rovings. I love them all and secretly halfway want to spin them all myself. But, I’ve decided to list them in my Etsy shop and share the fun.  As you see, I was having a brightly colored kind of week.

Here’s Acid Spring.

Acid Spring

This makes me think of a Tropical Getaway.

Tropical Getaway

Here is a tribute to Semi-Precious gemstones.

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I also made a roving I called Citrus Explosion.

Citrus Explosion

I also finished two skeins of worsted weight 100% wool yarn.  The colorway is Hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas

Soon I’ll be taking a short trip to Western Michigan where the hydrangeas will be sensational. They’re one of my favorite things about summer on the Great Lakes. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other color ideas while there – watch for more nature inspired colorways in the near future.