carding wool · fibre preparation · handspun · spindle spinning · spinning · textured yarn · yarn

A Hand-pulled Roving Experience

In September 2014, I received this fibre in the Sweet Georgia Yarns’ fibre club, which was new to me at the time. I had just joined and thus far, had had good results from my spun club fibres. This particular month, for some reason, really challenged me and I didn’t quite know what to do with it. I had stumbled on some posts on Ravelry about hand pulled roving and proceeded to drumcard the entire braid of fibre without thinking twice. After I was finished, having pulled it all off with my milk-cap diz that I punched a hole in after I realised I had nothing to actually pulll the roving off through, I thought, Well, what now?

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Spin it, I guess. I hooked up my wheel, pulled one of the nests out and proceeded to spin! It took me a very short period of time to spin roughly 25 grams of the fibre and I plied it from a plying bracelet. The resulting yarn was slightly lumpy and bumpy, thick and thin, marled (barber-poled) and twisted. There was an interest in the yarn that I really liked but as consistent and analogous yarn went, this was not it! So I put the project aside and moved onto other things.

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About a month ago, I was cleaning out my craft area and came across this project. I inspected the yarn, now with fresh eyes and an appreciation for textured yarn, and pulled out the rest of the roving. It had great potential and knowing what I know now, I pre-drafted the nests and instead, spun on my Turkish spindle for intentionally low-twist singles. I plied on my Snyder Spindles Steampunk and matched the ply twist to the singles by only adding enough that the plied yarn twisted back on itself 2-4 times. This created a balanced yarn after I sent it for a swim, thwack and snap! It also created a light, lofty, airy yarn which was more in keeping with the roving I had pulled off the carded almost 2 years ago. By spinning it this way, I was able to preserve what I had so liked about the roving – light, lofty and airy! A way I could have reproduced this yarn on a spinning wheel would be by using a large pulley (a ratio of 4, 5 or 6:1, maybe?), slow feet and a short forward draft as follows: pinch, pull forward, let the fibre go, return to the fibre supply, pinch and repeat. This would have preserved the airiness and loft from the roving that I achieved with the weight of the spindle (35 grams) and the slow rotation from the low whorl (Turkish spindles are low-whorl suspended spindles – more on that another day).

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Pre-drafting the fibre meant it was significantly less thick and thin but still interesting. The marling that I had liked in the original yarn remains as the colourway was a complement of yellow and blue – a difficult colour combination at the best of times and probably the reason I loved it (those are my two favourite colours) and felt challenged by it. The matching TurtleMade was completely unintentional and I didn’t notice until someone pointed it out on Instagram! I guess I had blue and yellow on the brain!? By approaching the fibre as hand-pulled roving, instead of spinning the braid end-to-end or striping it down, the colours softened considerably. The initial brightness of the blue and ochre yellow was significantly muted from the white and grey in the braid. The interesting points on the yarn happen where the white, yellow, grey and blue all twist together at the same time, whether in the singles or after plying. I could gaze at this yarn for a long time to study how the colours intersect with one another.

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The finished technical specs of the yarn are still unknown at this time but I’m thinking about a toque for myself for the Fall, so I’ll calculate all the information when I wind it off my swift. It’s a great time to measure, make a final washed yarn sample card (I’ll photograph that next time I do one for you to see!), and calculate grist, wraps per inch (WPI) and twist angle, as well as twists per inch (TPI).

Have you worked with hand-pulled roving? What was your experience? I’d love to do it again soon!

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