10 Reasons To Love Rolags

 

pink rolags

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.

 

brown rolags

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.

multicolored rolags

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.

 

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.