Recently I had the great privileged to spin some rolags dyed and carded by Mia of Wren and Ollie and I couldn't help but share with you how I spin rolags.
You can find more tutorials like this in my book ROVING.
What is a rolag?
The word rolag comes from the Scottish Gaelic word roileag which basically means "small roll". Small roll is very fitting because a rolag is indeed a small roll of fiber that has been carded on the hand cards. The fibers are carded on the hand cards and then gently rolling into a small roll of fiber. Skilled makers, like Mia, will make uniform rolags with the fibers distributed evenly throughout.
What type of yarn does a rolag make?
A rolag makes a woolen yarn.
How do you prep a rolag?
Some people say you don't need to prep a rolag - simply grab an edge, pull it out a little and spin straight from the rolag!
Some people say break them in half so you have two predrafted edges to start from.
I say do what you will but predrafting is my favourite method. I feel it preserves the gradient the carder put in place best and gives you a more relaxing spin.
To predraft a rolag, gently pull out the end of a rolag and grasping it firmly in your other hand, continue to gently draft it out.
You will see the fibers tangle on themselves creating a tunnel of air in the center - this is where much of the extra warmth in a woolen yarn comes from.
The drafted rolag will greatly increase in length and transform into what I like to think of as a "woolen roving".
How do you spin it?
Spinning from your predrafted rolag, woolen roving, is exactly the same as spinning from a normal roving.
Spin end to end to preserve the gradient your carder created or follow any of the techniques you know to manipulate those colours.
What are some variations on this technique I could try?
- You could buy plan undyed farm rolags and use them for outerwear knitting.
- You could N-ply the yarn to create a self striping yarn.
- You could 2-ply like I did above to create a medley of colour.
- You could leave it a single to get an amazingly warm but drapey single.
- You could ply it with a solid non-woolen yarn.
- You could break them in half at each colour change and create a long gradient.
What are some ways I could use this yarn?
- You could use it to knit a warm baby sweater.
- You could use yarn spun from plain rolags to create an extra warm lining for winter wear like hats and mittens.
- You could use it to create the body of a sweater.