Woolen or worsted?

jenjoycedesign© spinning

Spinning from rolags is a different experience for me. Especially these tightly rolled sausage-like ones drawn off of those nifty blending boards, and from which  I posted about a few weeks ago.   Raw, dirty & weedy alpaca is what I’m practicing this woolen technique I am learning, from rolags. In my spinning past, I’ve spun from locks, from picked fiber ‘clouds’ , from bats, had also tried a badly produced rolag or two and gave up ~~ but mostly all the years I’ve spun its been from roving, sliver, and combed top. I am learning that although I was getting better at spinning a fine even single, the yarn I’ve been spinning has been dense, tough type of yarn. I think I was unconsciously aspiring to spin worsted (or semi-worsted) , however there is true woolen style of spinning which is done this way, from rolags I am learning, and ‘long draw’. Okay, I’m getting this…

jenjoycedesign© spinning alpaca rolags

I must say, this rolag thing is where it is at! Its fascinating, long-draw spinning method, and as yet I am far from being able to do it, and I must resist the urge to pinch the twist too much and let it compress through my fingers into tight even yarn, for that is what is to spinning, like knitting yarn with too small of a size needle I think. It creates a dense compact yarn, that squeezes the life out of the fiber.  Just look how the yarn pulls out of the rolag in a line all by itself, with really very minimal fussing if you do it right…

jenjoycedesign© spinning alpaca rolags 2

Well, I’ve got this pile of rolags that I made from my first carding on my board, a loosely carded alpaca, and when I’m done with this, I will wash it very well as it is dirty. Hopefully it will bloom and be fluffy & beautiful.

As I’ve been ordering & collecting a bit of fancy fibers to play with and blend, and even ‘processing’ some bits of yarn I have on hand to incorporate into the tweed mixes which  I am envisioning for art rolags!  For now I’m glad to be taking a break from knitting as the previously posted yarn was not very nice at all, and I sent it back only to have to start all over with nicer yarn that I enjoy knitting, and more important, that my nieces will enjoy wearing! So I’m waiting for new yarn to come in. In the mean time I’m spinning!  All you spinners out there, I invite you to share in the comments about your preferred spinning methods, and anything you might be able to say about woolen vs worsted spinning ~ thanks!

I’m closing with a posting of a video from 1970’s that I found about sheep & spinning in Donegal Ireland, I hope you love it as much as I do!

Carding & Blending

jenjoycedesign© rolags

I’ve been lured into somewhat of a trend. The trend is carding & blending boards!  Such a beautiful tool are the ones purchased by Ashford, etc, and I was so excited to buy one, but I resisted knowing that I was perfectly able to make my own. So with Jeff’s help, I did…

005I bought  24″ of  very expensive 12″ carding cloth, but still less expensive than a new 12×12″ board.  We cut some plywood to size, and after a quick glue & nailing down the carding cloth, added a footing to the head, and a handle, and ended up with double the size of the regular blending boards available. Not bad!  I then spent hours practicing on some old weedy raw fleece I had hidden away, found my old carders, and had a go with some alpaca.

jenjoycedesign© carding alpaca

Mixing first by hand, then carding three times on the board,

it eventually looked like this…

jenjoycedesign© carding alpaca 5

Then I drew the 3x carded alpaca back on to the board, caught the tips in between two dowels, then began to pull out, roll, pull out & drafted it rolling into rolags…

jenjoycedesign© making rolags

Eventually I got through all 240 grams of it and made finally into some nifty rolags ready to spin, after a heck of a lot of work …
053
Honestly folks, do you have any idea how much work goes into making a simple 100g ball of yarn from raw fleece?   I’m sure there are some of you out there who do.

Which brings me back to the carding & blending board. I did say that it is a bit of a trend, I mean, just look at the process of making art rolags…

The video shows really what the blending board is all about.  I was actually using it in my above photos as a carding board for raw fleece, now I think I’ll go clean up the weeds and fluff that has spread all about my loft, because I am actually waiting for some combed top roving to show up in the mail.

Its such a strange modern era.  I feel that I have shifted from wanting to create from the roughest and unrefined of raw materials ~~ my old self ~~ into craving the ease of beautiful prepared combed top roving to spin from, or with which to create those beautiful blend rolags ~~ my new self.  I think I have worked something through here, and am considering offering to the wild all that old coarse wool from my earlier spinning days, and face a future of pleasure spinning clean exotic selection of fibers, as there is just so much available now.  I have definitely reaffirmed my respect for those who spin from animal-to-yarn, I just can’t seem to be one to run with the flock anymore, but that is okay.

I do feel the urge to spin yarn again, after a long hiatus.  I am very excited to come back and show off some really artful blended rolags from my plus size blending board, as well as the yarn spun from them!