By Anne Podlesak
Pin-drafted roving is a great product for hand-spinners, but you might not be familiar with it. Most spinners know what roving looks like: It is a wide strip of combed fibers arranged in a parallel manner from which you spin a yarn. A lot of spinners like to either pre-draft this type of roving, or split it into strips for easier handling during the spinning process.
Pin-drafted roving takes care of that step for you!
When commercial mills prepare roving to be spun into yarn, their carding machines take what we handspinners usually see as roving, and attenuate it out into pin-drafted roving, which is a much thinner strip, usually about the size of a pencil. This fiber preparation is available from some mini-mills that provide custom processing, such as Stone Hedge Fiber Mill and Fingerlakes Woolen Mill, as well as a few indie vendors, such as Fiber Optic, who carry hand-painted versions of this roving.
This preparation makes a great easy-to-spin treat for handspinners. You can spin lightweight, Lopi-style singles from pin-drafted roving, or you can choose to continue to draft the fibers out to make a finer yarn, either single-ply or multi-plied. It’s a great product for new spinners as the added processing usually makes it very easy to spin, with nicely organized fibers and not a lot of spinner preparation to make a beautiful yarn. Also, because the roving diameter is so thin, you’ll find that hand-painted versions of it have a lot of great color blending, without much, if any pooling, as the short runs of color in the yarn blend more easily than the longer runs sometimes created with traditionally-sized roving.
Pin-drafted roving can also be used as-is to create warm, lofty knitting projects, and works great as the weft for weaving projects too.
It’s a different and unique preparation, but well worth taking the time to spin on your wheel or spindle to create a beautiful, soft, and lofty yarn.
Photos © Anne Podlesak.