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Using Fibers: Wool Roving and Felting


Using Fibers: Wool Roving and Felting

Spinning involves the production of textiles from raw fibrous materials. During the manufacturing process, spinners convert these raw fibrous materials into three products, including yarn, fabric, and textiles. More specifically, it involves physically twisting together oriented strands of fibers to form balls of yarn. Spinners use three industrial processes or multiple hand spinning techniques to create these textiles. Designers create clothing and other assorted apparel from the textiles produced from the raw materials. Craft enthusiasts can purchase each of the three fibers separately to create their own fabric or textiles, which may include roving and felting.

Wool Roving

Spinners use wool roving, a piece of clumped, combed, and slightly twisted wool, to create numerous textiles. They may prepare their own wool roving or purchase them from a specialty supply store. Roving can also be made from a variety of fibrous materials, including cotton and silk. Spinners create wool roving by combing raw wool to remove its impurities. In addition, they wash and orient each of the fibers by carding them in the same direction. Lastly, they gently twist each fiber until forming a solid piece of yarn. Wool roving can be dipped in dyes to create vibrant, colorful yarn and is measures around the length of a hand, although the size can vary. Spinners have the option of looping the wool roving back on itself for compact storage.

Spinners refer to prepared wool roving as a sliver before twisting them into bundles of yarn. In addition, they refer to flattened wool roving as batting, often used as stuffing for certain textiles. Wool roving has a soft, fine, and springy texture. Learning to spin roving takes a great deal of time, patience, and practice to fully understand the processes of creating textiles. While some advanced spinners understand how to process wool, beginners should start with prepared wool roving until mastering their art.

  • Wool Processing: Wool processing involves eight intensive steps, including shearing, washing, blending, carding, spinning, weaving, fulling, finishing, and chemical finishing.
  • Twisting Fibers (PDF): A spinner's introduction to twisting fibers in the wool roving process.
  • Wool Carding and Combing (PDF): A highly detailed document that explains how to card and comb raw wool.
  • Llama Wool (PDF): An educational brochure that provides a historical background on wool made from llamas.
  • Handling and Marketing Wool (PDF): A comprehensive document that explains the handling and marketing process of wool in the production of textiles.
  • How to Create a Flower Brooch (PDF): A tutorial that teaches spinners how to create a flower brooch from wool roving.
  • Clothing Fibers (PDF): An introduction to various clothing fibers used in the textile industry, such as cotton, linen, wool, silk, rayon, nylon, polyester, and acrylic.

Wool Felting

Spinners incorporate wool felting, a technique that produces a non-woven sturdy fabric that withstands the natural elements. This fabric is referred to as boiled wool or felt. Spinners can practice making felt at home with relative ease, which will produce quality fabric that can be used for a wide variety of projects. Ordinary shoppers can purchase prepackaged felt at many arts and crafts stores if they have more of an interest in the design of textiles than the felted fabric. Many nations have used felted wool for centuries, which testifies of its enduring composition. In fact, scholars suggest that cultures started felting way before knitting and weaving came along.

Spinners start the felting process by washing and combing raw wool of its impurities before orienting the fibers to run in the same direction. They will layer hanks of wool into large pans and then ensure that each of the fibers run at a ninety-degree angle. To gently agitate each of the wool's fibers, spinners pour hot soapy water over the layered pans. After the water cools, the small scales on the fibrous hairs starts to open up and interlock with each other. As a result, a solid matted materiel forms from the constant heat, pressure, moisture, and friction applied to the fibrous hairs.