The Fibre Garden : Wool - Canadian Rustic Roving
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We call this group of domestic wool fibres RUSTIC ROVING to set it well apart from the combed top most spinners and felters are used to working with over the past twenty years or so. Sadly, the word “roving” has come to be a generic term and is mis-used to describe combed top much of the time.
Combed top is first carded and then put through a combing machine that removes shorter bits of fibre, removes most vegetation debris and, most importantly, aligns the wool fibres into a fairly parallel arrangement. That’s awesome for spinning worsted or semi-worsted yarns, and for many felting purposes but it depends on the project and method used. We are one of the few merchants that makes a clear distinction between top and roving.
Carded Roving has simply been carded, and not combed. This means the fibres are in a much more jumbled arrangement than combed top. Roving is best suited to woolen-style spinning and it creates yarns with high loft that are often not as smooth as worsted-style yarns but are warmer and cozier to wear. Many needle felters LOVE true roving for Core Wool when doing 3-D animals and other projects, because the jumbled fibres come together quickly to create a firm core foundation shape.
Our Rustic Rovings are generally thick and chunky, feeling lofty and bulky compared to combed top. There will always be some degree of vegetation debris in these, which can vary significantly from one lot to the next. Why? Canadian sheep are usually in barns for the winter, bedded on straw, while countries like New Zealand and Britain tend to pasture sheep outdoors year round. Our Canadian pastures have different weeds than other countries, things like Timothy and various thistles which produce seedheads that stubbornly stick on wool fibres. Sometimes these end up getting carded into the wool during processing. Picking out vegetation bits during spinning is tedious but rustic! For needle felting as core wool, it really does not matter much if a few seeds and straw bits end up inside the core, since it will be covered with a decorative outer later of fibre anyhow.
We would offer Canadian combed wool top in a heartbeat, if such a thing existed and was available to us wholesale. The mills we have in Canada by-and-large have only carding equipment and do not comb their wool. This will hopefully change in the future as our sheep industry continues to grow.
We’ve tried to describe the breeds here, but more information can be found in “The Fleece & Fiber Source Book”. Two older references (now out of print but worth tracking down) are “In Sheep’s Clothing” and “The Knitter’s Book of Wool”.
Quick Metric Conversion:
1 oz = 28.35g, 2 oz = 56.7g, 4 oz = 113.4g, 8 oz = 226.8g, 1 Lb = 453.59g
PRODUCT of CANADA