Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Noble Art of Rolags

Your birch dowel has a grain. Find the end that the rolag slides off easily.  Mark it.  Then slice the dowel in half, lengthwise to produce 2 - half cylinders.  Sand the cut surfaces until they do not snag your
 fiber. This is your better rolag form.

These days, I like 2- gram rolags.  I load just over 10 grams of  fine fiber onto the drum carder and run it through several times.  Then, I lift one end of the batt and clamp it between the flat sides of my birch rolag form, and roll the dowel 1.5 rotations to lift and wrap the batt around the rolag form.  Then, I lift the form slightly as I rotate the form another half rotation.  Thus, the last bit of fiber is drafted around the rolag to hold it together.  The form is slid out one piece at a time to leave a perfect  8" long, 2-gram rolag.

At ~22,400 ypp, I use 3 rolags per spinning bobbin of single, and wind off every time I accumulate ~280 yards of  single on the spinning bobbin.

The circumference of the carding drum is ~20" so I get 5 rolags per batt.  Four batts / 20 rolags less some wastage produce one woolen hank of 1,600 yards.

I spin a bobbin in about 20 minutes, so net production is near 700 yards per hour, but I can put 1,600 yards on the storage bobbin in a couple of 2 hours if I hurry.    More commonly is 2 bobbins per hour as I watch DVDs with my wife in the evening.  The wind-off process is noisy, so I end up sitting there with a full bobbin.

This is weft.   It is not a pretty single for knitting lace. It will be woven in a twill,  fulled, teased, and clipped.  It will be a very nice shirting fabric, with one smooth warp face and the other a short, soft nap.


Anonymous said...

You can't make true rolags from drum carded fibre. True rolags can only be made on hand cards. You'll get a good consistent prep from drum carded fibre using your method, sure, but they're not rolags.

And you need true rolags to do proper English long draw. You can do any number of extended draws with faux rolags but it's not the gold standard English long draw. Will still make good yarn of course and if it's what you want then great, be happy. But you can't call them rolags, they're not.

Aaron said...

The spinning police have spoken!!

Rowyls (1568), rowans(1635)rowes, roves (1683), . . . roll (1898)rolls (1928) . . . rolag (1953) from the Celtic or Highland Scots meaning rowyl,rowve, roll and etc. Thus, "rolag" is not a traditional English spinning term. Hand cards as we know developed after inexpensive steel wire, so rowans, rowes and roves would have been combed preparation rather than carded.

If I hand you one one of my rolls, you cannot tell if it come from the drum carder or the hand cards. If I hand you a hundred of them you will see that that they have the uniformity of fiber that is achieved by repeated blending on the drum carder. I could blend on the drum carder and form the rolls on the hand cards, but working off the drum carder saves substantial time, and forming the rolls on the hand cards confers no benefit that I can see.

I do not do long draw. I sit there with my loosely grasped fiber, and a hollow spiral of is pulled out, and by the time it reached the orifice, some 30" away, it is competent yarn. There is a youtube of the technique showing Judith MacKenzie using it to spin woolen with an e-spinner.

It is wicked fast, and it depend on a DRS that inserts the correct amount of twist for the take up. It works. I do not care what my rolls are called, they work.

What do you think of Henry Clems calling the rolls he makes on his blending boards, "rolags"?

Chingachgook said...

I think, Aaron, that "anonymous" hasn't understood how we can make rolags (by whatever name) on a drum carder, and has expressed this inexperience in denial of fact instead of as a question.

May I attempt an explanation?

By doffing the batt horizontally, in increments, onto the dowel(s) then slipping the dowel out, a nice rolag is made. The cross-section is identical to hand-carded, with fibers circularly wound around the axis. Think of the fiber package as a waterspout, instead of a stream.