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A Roving Minstrel

The first image that comes to my mind for roving is not a loosely clumped wad of raw wool, silk, cotton or other textile fibers. I think of a silk-clad minstrel meandering an archaic countryside spinning heroic tales with his lute. However, that whimsical analogy is not that far off… sort of.

Wool Roving is often the base for many felting projects. Wool roving is the removal of foreign debris, the aligning of fibers, and twisting in preparation for conversion of raw fibers into yarn or thread. Raw textile fibers are like little chaotic wires, strewn about without order. They can’t be used for much in that state. But, when the raw fibers are combed, washed, and carded to become slightly aligned, they become a sliver. If the sliver is flattened it becomes batting, as in the soft fluffy material filling your grandma’s old doll. If the slivers are twisted slightly, they are considered roving. Roving is the final process before spinning. Spinning the fibers creates yarn or thread. The yarn or thread can be knitted or made into fabric.

Wool Rovings Plays a Critical Part in Felting

A Pile Of Colored Wool Roving

Roving can be dyed. If the color is applied before the spinning, the color is much deeper and vibrant.

Typically a roving is the length of a hand. Since hands vary in size, so does roving length.

See what I mean with the minstrel analogy?

The minstrel takes a long journey across the countryside, singing apparently random songs to the pleasant folk – raw, unaligned fibers.
He stops in a town or village and the people gather in groups – the making of a sliver.
He sings a sad lament and makes them cry – flattening the fibers to become batting.
He then sings of a hero’s redemption and whips the crowd into a rancorous roar – the twisting of the material into a roving.
Finally, he has the crowd join in the song – the spinning.

Written By Chad Mullens

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