Saturday, July 04, 2020

Fiber Prep for Spinning

One of my friends who reads this blog had never heard of a spinning preparation called "rolags."   Basically rolags are fiber that is pre-drafted and the fibers are aligned making it easier to spin.
I laid out some fibers in silk and bamboo to make some rolags and show you some of the process.
There is one rolag on the left to show you what we are making. 

 It does require some equipment to make them.  I make mine on an Ashford Blending board - there are other brands out there.
The board came with the blending brush and two rods for forming the rolags.  I added the wooden skewer for my own convenience.

To start you put fiber on the board by dragging it from the top toward the bottom of the board.  You can cover the entire board or just use a section.  I am just using part of the board.  Here I have put the first layer of fiber on the board.  This is "silk waste roving."
Once that is in place the brush is used to force the fiber down into the teeth.  It is brushed from top to bottom -it usually takes me a few passes to get it beaten in.  This also aligns the fibers and starts the pre-drafting.
When it is brushed in/beaten in you can see any spaces you missed.  Those can be filled in with the same fiber or another fiber in the next layer.  I like a nice random yarn for weaving so I just moved to the next layers.  Each layer is added in the same manner.

Here you can see the white is brushed in but the magenta silk is the begining of the next layer. 
Once all the layers are added it looks like this.
Notice those tails at the bottom.  We need those to start the rolag.  To do that we layer those ends between the two wooden dowels. Pulling toward myself and up at about a 30-45 degree angle the fiber is stretched and wrapped around the dowels as it comes out of the sharp teeth on the blending board.
Once you have what you consider enough on the dowels, it is time to pull the fiber away from itself.  This is rolled lightly on the teeth of the board to seal the ends to the rolag. Then the rolag is removed from the dowels.

This is repeated until all the fiber is off the board.  The skewer comes in handy for pulling up the ends and getting them ready for the dowels.  The skewer can slide between those teeth.  You don't want to try sticking your fingers in there - OUCH!

I didn't use the whole board and I did not load it fully. Here are the rolags I created from this session.
The one in front is the last one. The last one is usually a bit "messy looking."  Not to worry, it will spin up just fine.
And that pile of fiber that I started with?  About 1/3 to 1/2 of it went back into the basket for another session.
These rolags will be fun to spin and will create a multicolored yarn that I will eventually use for weaving.

I hope I didn't bore you too much.  And I hope you learned something new - at least one new word for some of you:  rolag.  I don't know if it will work in Scrabble, but it is a perfectly good word. Okay I decided to check.  The online dictionary has this:
Scrabble US/Canada (OTCWL) No
Scrabble UK (SOWPODS) Yes (6 Points)
Words With Friends No
I know that another tool used for fiber prep - diz - doesn't work in UpWords or any of those three either.   I don't think I have tried rolag in UpWords but I wouldn't expect that it would work.

Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 

Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.


Frog Quilter said...

Wow very interesting. You sure dabble in many art forms. Thanks for the mini education lol.

Barbara said...

Thanks for this, Gene! I followed along OK, but doubt my hands have enough dexterity now to accomplish this with the board, brush and dowels. I have trouble just managing my toothbrush! Lol. I can see how it makes spinning easier though. Anyhow, I’m going to look into this further and will be certain of my ability. Thank you again!

Debbie said...

Wonderful technique! Loved seeing your process. And learned a new word!

Lyndsey said...

Very interesting to learn about that technique Gene and a plus of a new scrabble word. I have vague memories of my mother doing that when she was preparing fibres for spinning but the technique was lost in the mists of time in my brain.

A Left-Handed Quilter said...

Fascinating process - pretty "rolags" - and I learned a nice new word - thanks for sharing - ;))