Working with Handdyed fibers part 4: Lazy Rolags

Posted in handspun, spinning by tchemgrrl on September 4, 2013

A number of common questions from both new and experienced spinners involves the use of those pretty, colorful braids of fiber that indie dyers sell. What do we do with them? How do we prevent them from turning to mud? How can I make it look the way it looks in my head?

Over the next few weeks I’m going to work on answering some of those questions. Taken together, they should add up to a handy little workshop on working with a particular fiber.

Previous posts:

Part 1: Deciding on some fiber
Part 2: Color
Part 3: Splitting and Breaking
“Lazy rolags”

Traditional rolags are made of carded fiber rolled into a tube and spun perpendicular to the direction in which the fibers lay. Lazy rolags look similar and are spun the same way, but are made from pieces of commercial top, broken into staple-length chunks and rolled across the grain of the top. This arrangement makes it easier to spin an airy woolen yarn from commercial top. It’s a particularly nice technique for short or slippery fibers.

Downsides: If you want a smooth dense yarn, this may not be the technique for you; we are seriously disordering the nicely aligned top!

Here’s a box full of lazy rolags for visual reference:
pretty fake rolags

And here’s the incredibly squishy, woolenish yarn that resulted:
big skein

For this yarn, I sorted the rolags by color, and was able to control the overall colorway differently than I could have purely by spinning the fiber as it came to me. In this case, I made the stripes longer than they would have been normally; the box of fiber represents several repeats of the colorway and I spun each color separately, thus, the rate of color change was *slower* than it would have been if I had just spun the top in a more usual way. (If I had instead split the top, the color change would have been *faster*. Fun trick!) The end result was very puffy and light, with very good yardage for the weight, and slowly shifting from purple to orange and back again, as you can see here:


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  1. […] 1: Deciding on some fiber Part 2: Color Part 3: Splitting and Breaking Part 4: Lazy Rolags Part 5: Fractals ——————— So this is kind of a funny way […]

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