Roving, Top, and Other Types of Bundling
While the title leads you to believe this is only going to answer the question “What is Roving,” that is not the case. We are actually going to get into the different types of bundles that are available to you.
Roving – This is most commonly heard in the phrase “wool roving.” This implies that you can only get roving in wool, which is completely inaccurate. You can get roving in just about any fiber. Roving is simply a commercially prepared thread of fiber that is around 2-3 inches thick. The fibers are pretty much going in any direction but are more aligned than say a batt or a rolag.
Top – this is probably the most prepared you can get fiber, in my opinion. Top has the fibers washed, combed and sorted. You don’t have different lengths of fibers and the fibers all run parallel to one another. This is one of the easiest to spin.
Rolag – This has been hand carded so is usually only a few inches wide and long. Once the carder has finished carding the wool using hand carders, he/she rolls the fiber up so that it resembles a tube. This is the rolag.
Batt – A batt comes from a drum carder and creates a blanket of fiber. This can then be split lengthwise to draft for spinning. It is also used as “snow” in Christmas decorations or as quilt filler.
Sliver – This is pronounced with a long I sound. This is simply a smaller version of roving.
Thread can be spun from every one of these types. They just simply take different preparation to do so. For instance, roving I simply draft a little out and start spinning. Same for sliver. However, top requires a little more drafting. On a rolag, though I (and this is my personal preference) unroll it and draft from there. A batt I split lengthwise and use it similar to roving.
Please be aware though, that how I prepare them is not the only way to prepare fiber for spinning. These are simply my preferences. Each person has to find what works for them. Part of the fun is experimentation. For example, someone sent me a one ounce sample of a merino/tencel blend. I was so looking forward to spinning it. The colors were gorgeous and the fiber itself was smooth and lustrous. Once I started, I despised it. I already knew I loved spinning merino, so the only assumption is it had to be the tencel. After talking to some other spinners, it turns out I am not the only one who does not want to spin tencel. My point is, each person has to find what works for them. I know what works for me and what fibers I like to spin. The hard part for you is finding out what you like.