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Saturday, July 18, 2009

What is Roving, Exactly?

The word "roving" is used in a generic way to designate any rope of spinning fiber. For instance, I've got dyed, combed tops for sale on my etsy site, and I call them "rovings" which is inaccurate, but everyone knows what it means.

So what is ROVING actually? (top of the photo) Roving is a strip of a carded batt with a little bit of twist added to it. Commercial mills can make miles and miles of roving from gigantic batts. Home carders can make little rovings, but the main thing to remember is, the true roving comes from a carded batt - that means there is a mix of fiber lengths in it. Carding only mostly straightens out the fibers, like running a brush through very curly hair. And it doesn't remove the short bits. It's all there, short, long, and maybe some neps and little bumps.

Top is a long rope of combed fiber. (Bottom of the photo) Commercial top is thick - home-combed top is usually thinner and more airy. When fiber is combed, either at home or in a mill, the short fibers are removed and everything that is left is perfectly parallel and aligned. If you have some undyed top at home, see if you can peel it open and see the comb marks. Often they are still visible in the fiber.

If you send a fleece to a mill for carding, you'll get back everything you sent in either a batt, or a roving. If you send a fleece to the mill for combing, you'll get back combed top, and also a bag of noil - the short leftover stuff. The short fibers have been removed, the long fibers have been combed until they are parallel.

Next time I'll talk about the different uses for the two preparations.

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