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 rolag vs pencil roving
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Chatty Knitter

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Posted - 03/22/2007 :  9:36:22 PM  Show Profile  Visit morandia's Homepage Send morandia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
what is the difference? the pictures of each seem to look very similar. Am I missing something?

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Posted - 03/22/2007 :  10:45:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit Shelia's Homepage Send Shelia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
None of the pencil roving that I've seen looks much like rolags - do you have a site that you are looking at, or is it a picture in a book or publication?

A rolag is the product of carding on hand cards. Depending on the fiber, and how full the cards were, it can be the size of a cigar, or 2"-3" in diameter. It will be roughly as long as the cards are wide, roughly a cylindrical shape that has been rolled off a hand card, with most of the fibers aligned around the the circular width. Additional drafting needs to be done during or prior to the spinning process.

Pencil roving is very thin, usually about 1/4 of an inch in with. It is the last step in the process of making commercial yarn prior to having the twist put in, but has been drafted to the desired size. It can be spun as is, or drafted out more when being handspun into a singles. It can also be knitted as is, and is usually put up in "cakes" of the roving that are similar to large , flat balls.

The main similarity between rolags and pencil roving is that they are both prepared fiber prior to having twist added. I have never seen any physical similarity to look at the two preparations.

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Warming Up

89 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2007 :  09:32:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit afranquemont's Homepage Send afranquemont a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I concur with Shelia. Here's my usual definitions of various preps:

[from my web site]

- a true top, a combed top for real, not just a commercial top, is the only thing from which you can spin a true worsted yarn, in which all the fibers are parallel, smoothed down into the yarn with the air squeezed out of it, and no twist in the drafting zone. This prep is really best suited to true worsted spinning, but can be spun semi-worsted (using woolen technique)

- a commercial top is a machine-produced variant of this — sort of. The fibers are pretty much all going the same direction, but there’s a ton more of them and it actually feels fairly different from spinning a true combed top. Once you’re used to this prep, you can spin a pretty fair worsted, a pretty fair woolenish, and a range of things in between, from this prep.

- a rolag is what you make when you use hand cards in the traditional way — it’s like a poofy roll of fiber. Traditionally, for woolen spinning, you use these, spin from one end, and you have your fibers going multiple directions and around and around, sort of. You could spin this with worsted technique, but it would be slow and you’d still get fuzzy yarn, not smooth yarn; but it would be stronger than a traditional woolen.

- a batt is made on a drum carder and is like a blanket of fibers, carded, but more aligned than you get in a rolag. You can strip these, pre-draft them, tear off chunks, roll them up, and spin them with what’s considered either woolen or worsted technique; and you can pull them or tear them into rovings.

- a roving is a carded thing, sort of wrist-thick a lot of the time though it can vary; one way or another they’re usually made from something that might as well be batts.

- a sliver is a thinner variant of a roving (to simplify).

In the European-derived spinning traditions, things are broken up into worsted and woolen yarns; worsteds are tightly spun, without air trapped between the fibers, and from combed prep with all the fibers parallel, producing a smoother, longer-wearing yarn. Woolens are produced from carded prep, using more hands-off techniques, so to speak, resulting in a more heterogeneous fiber alignment and air trapped in the yarn. Woolens are loftier, worsteds are denser. In these traditions, it is not possible to spin a true worsted unless you use both worsted prep, and worsted technique; same for woolen: you need woolen prep and woolen technique. However, these just define ends of a specific spinning spectrum (mmmm how alliterative!) and you can mix and match for results which traverse that spectrum. And of course, there are non-European textile traditions which don’t exactly fit in that spectrum, though when they’re being discussed by English-speakers they are often shoehorned in and those terms are used to describe things, as people don’t necessarily have a familiarity with the other-language and other-culture terms and distinctions.

Abby Franquemont
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