The Fibre Garden : Natural Roving & Top
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As much as we love dyed colour at The Fibre Garden, we pride ourselves on the collection of natural fibre shades we have been able to gather together. Some breeds of sheep vary just a little their colour offerings, while others (such as Shetland) have a myriad of natural colours. When different colours are available, we try to carry a range from white through dark. Certain shades we can regularly get, others come and go from one year to another.
Don’t be afraid of combining natural shades with dyed ones either. That opens to door to all kinds of unique effects in your spinning, knitting, weaving, felting or other crafts. Same goes for combining animal fibres with plant fibres or manmade ones. The sky is the limit!
Our selection of natural top and roving changes frequently, so be sure to come back and see what’s new.
Fibre comes in various preparations.
TOP: fibre that has been washed and then combed, which removes a good degree of vegetation and gives a preparation with fibres of a similar length and in a parallel arrangement. Top is used to produce smooth and strong true worsted as well as semi-worsted yarns. The vast majority of what people refer to as “roving” is actually combed top.
ROVING: fibre that has been washed, picked and then carded, usually on a giant carding machine at a commercial mill. The fibres may be of varying lengths, in a somewhat jumbled arrangement rather than parallel. Roving is best suited to woolen and semi-woolen style spinning, which is lighter and airier than worsted. Roving also sometimes contains more vegetation than combed top, but not always. It depends on how dirty the fibre was to begin with, how it was skirted and picked, and on the milling equipment being used.
RUSTIC ROVING is a term we invented. It describes the thick and chunky rovings that come from a couple of our suppliers. If you’re used to working with neat and tidy combed top, Rustic Roving may come as a shock to your eyes and fingers. It can be two inches or more in diameter and usually chunky and rough in appearance compared to some of the lighter and airier rovings we carry. Most of our Rustic Rovings are found in our Canadian natural wool line.
SLIVER is a hazier term in the trade, in our experience. Most often it seems to be roving that is drawn into a thinner preparation than regular thicker roving. Sometimes it’s just another word for combed top, particularly in New Zealand. We always try and qualify which it is, when we know.