Lessons in Long Draw: Fauxlags & Rolags

Earlier this year I shared my very first attempt at long draw. For that spin, I used roving from the fleece of a sheep my husband adopted for me a few years back. After that spin, I felt fairly confident that I was getting the skill down so when Mary Ann of Three Waters Farm mentioned that Shetland top works well spun with long draw when rolled into fauxlags, I ordered a small load of Shetland top and set to giving this technique a whirl! If you weren’t aware, when presented with a new spinning challenge, I have a pretty hard time walking away. I just so enjoy the challenge & adventure of new technique!

I had a bit of experience rolling fauxlags from a few years back, but it had been a while so I went back to David of Southern Cross Fibre’s instructional post on rolling fauxlags from combed top. Basically, it goes like this:

  1. Predraft

img_1251Maybe even a little more than this picture. Yes, now I would probably open those fibers up a bit more.

 

2. Roll with a smooth something — rolling pin, dowel, or, in my case, the wooden end of a dough whisk — spreading out the fiber as you roll and being sure to not roll too tightly.img_1254

David shows you rolling and breaking as you go once you’ve gone around once, but I had broken up this spin for colors, so I went with the breaks I had and made slightly bigger fauxlags.

3. Press down the tail a bit just so it stays put (it doesn’t take much with this wonderfully grippy fiber) and slide off your rolling device.

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Voilà! Fauxlags!

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This basket was not my first run at rolling fauxlags during this round of lessons in long draw – this was my third! It is definitely a learned skilled, an art in and of itself!

My first fauxlag spin was with Three Waters Farm Shetland in the Red Dirt colorway and my finished yarn shows the steep learning curve I met…

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For this spin, I attempted a true long draw with my Schacht Reeves.

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I had a very hard time staying consistent working with my fauxlags. Part of it, I believe was that I wound the fauxlags too tightly, part was that I was struggling to get the uptake just right. It led to an inconsistent, bulkier than intended yarn.

For the second attempt, I started to experiment with a supported long draw. Using my Three Waters Farm Shetland in Night Blues, I tuned in the uptake and I got into a “pinch, pull back” rhythm. Pinch with my left hand, providing a little resistance to make the long draw “pull back” with my right hand easier.

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You can see the huge improvement in this yarn’s consistency.

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I was so much more comfortable with the supported method, though, that I consider it totally worth it. I was really fighting that first spin to get all the different elements of the technique to jibe, but this second one I was much more in control and the spinning really shows that. The trade off for consistency with this method was that I lost a bit of the spring associated with long draw, but had a hunch that a little extra twist in the plying might help with that.

Because I was still working on the prep for my next fauxlags, so as not to lose the feel of this type of spinning totally, I took a brief foray into 4oz of rolags I purchased as Shepherd’s Harvest last month. If you’ll remember…

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I picked these up these two packs from Bumblebee Acres.  Not ready to stop experimenting with supported long draw, that’s exactly how I spun these as well. They were different because the bands of color are often different fibers so to remain consistent, that required adapting the draw for each fiber within each rolag and accepting a little extra texture in each spin.

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I cruised through these fibers in a relatively short amount of time and got right to plying. I wound up with a pretty fabulous skein of yarn, if I do say so myself.

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Oh, can’t you just see all this practice paying off?!

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I added a smidge extra twist in the plying which got me a bit closer to the springy, lofty woolen spun yarn I was after.

And last, but not least, the fauxlags from the beginning of this post! I took 8oz of Three Waters Farm Maybela’s Promise on Shetland…

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Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

And rolled them into these fauxlags according to color, more or less.

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And I spun them into reds…

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Yellows & oranges…

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Greens…

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And Blue-Greys…

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As you can see, I wasn’t super fussy with how I separated colors, but I think together…

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They make a beautiful family of yarns! They are all roughly aran weight and I hope to use them in a colorwork project someday. I think they’ll be perfect together!

It would have been really easy to leave out the first spin I shared here or to break these spins up, highlighting each skein individually. On their own, they are all lovely, usable yarns. I think the story that all 4 spins tell in succession is much more compelling, though. Learning a new spinning technique doesn’t just happen overnight. To really explore a new skill, learn its ins and outs, and grasp all that it has to offer takes time and practice. It was no accident that I bought over 16oz of Shetland top or that I picked up those rolags at Shepherd’s Harvest because you need the right materials, too. Once you’ve got the tools & the time and you set out on a course of learning such as this, your understanding evolves as you experiment. Your yarns change, getting more consistent and easier to manage. The yarns you have in mind when you start slowly start to become the yarns you actually create. Whether its lessons in long draw, beginning spinning, or anything in between or beyond, it’s a process, a journey. Don’t break it up or water it down, embrace it. The whole story, from start to finish, is much more interesting.

 

7 thoughts on “Lessons in Long Draw: Fauxlags & Rolags

  1. I love how you show all your steps on the learning curve of long draw. I admit that I find long draw more than a bit intimidating. My first attempts were frustrating and disappointing. Perhaps I will try Shetland and take another go at it!

    1. To make it really work for long draw with Shetland top, you need to do the fauxlags (that’s my understanding anyway!), but still with it! Really getting the uptake and whorl right are crucial in the process, so take your time playing with that! Once you get it, it’ll just go!

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