Thursday, May 08, 2008

Roving Info

Well, I don't have a very big back yard and the climbing rose has taken over!

I recently began playing with needle felting. I was fortunate enough to buy needles, a pad, and a few colors of roving at a quilting and craft show. But when it came time to get more supplies and I went searching the Internet, I came upon many terms I did not understand, so as promised, here is my attempt at an explanation of terms. I’m sure there is much more I don’t know, but these are the terms I came across most often….

Roving is wool that has been sheared from the sheep, washed and carded into long lengths. It’s not just unspun fiber. Since there are many different types of sheep, there are many types of wool roving. Wool from a single sheep can vary, as well. A young sheep will have softer wool than an older sheep. Roving doesn’t have to be wool; there is roving made from corn, silk, bamboo and alpaca. Other fibers include cashmere, camel, angora (rabbit or goat), llama, yak, and mohair (goat). Roving can be spun into yarn, woven or used for needle felting, among other uses. Roving can be sold by the ounce, the pound, grams or a bump. (One ounce is about 28 grams. A bump of carded roving can vary in its weight.) Prices range quite a bit, depending on the fleece type, how it is processed, whether it is mixed with other fibers, whether and how it is dyed and how fine the fiber is.

Raw fleece may have vegetable matter (vm) in it, as well as dirt, grass and insects, which is why the first step in processing wool is cleaning it. Roving may have a small amount of vm in it, but once it’s been cleaned, you shouldn’t encounter much in your fiber. Wool is combed with paddles that look like square ping-pong paddles – they are flat with small bristles sticking out of them. The fibers in roving lie in random directions. Wool and other fibers that have been cleaned and carded can be found for sale in the form of roving, top, batt, and locks. Some roving is comprised of mixed fibers, such as a silk/merino blend or merino/tencel blend. (Tencel is made from the cellulose in wood pulp and is very soft) You can also find roving that has some synthetic sparkle mixed in. (Or make your own by adding Angelina fibers!)

Top is the same as roving except that it has uniform-length fibers and they have been combed to be parallel to each other. Top is of the highest quality.

Batts are like flat roving; the fibers lie in random directions but the shape of a batt is more like a piece of quilt batting. You can easily tear the batt into strips so it is like roving. Sometimes batts are called stuffing wool, and can be used for the inner core of 3D needle felting projects

Locks are soft and curly, and are shorn from different breeds of sheep.

About some fibers:

Merino is very soft, extra fine wool. It is so fine and soft, you could use it to make baby clothes or underwear.

Colonial wool roving comes from Corriedale sheep and makes an excellent felting wool. It is not as fine as Merino and not as coarse as Romney. It wouldn’t be recommended for baby clothes, but makes a fine vest or jacket.

Romney is more coarse than a fine fiber such as Merino. A coarser fiber is less likely to show holes (from needle felting), but is more rustic in appearance. This fiber is used more for rugs, or bags, than for wearables.

Alpaca: Alpaca fiber is stronger than wool. Alpaca is soft and hypoallergenic.

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