January 24, 2010

Making Rolags from Combed Top

Filed under: Uncategorized — David @ 6:48 am

One of my favourite drafting methods is English Long Draw. Nothing beats spinning long draw from rolags. I also enjoy watching the changing colours slide through my fingers when spinning from handpainted top. Here is the method I came up with to have the best of both worlds.


Get yourself some combed top. I’m using Falkland top in the “Katoomba” colourway from Southern Cross Fibre. This technique will cause some of the colours to overlap, resulting in heathered sections in the finished yarn where the colours have blended. If you want a clean, crisp colour progression, then this technique is probably not for you.

If your top has been sitting around for a while, it may need loosening up. Compressed or sticky top makes for bad rolags. Most top is a flat length of fibre that has been rolled and twisted to hold it together. We’re going to undo the rolling and twisting to turn it back into a flat length of fibre. You should see a definite fold line along your top. Gently work your way along the top and open it up along the fold.

Next, you’re going to loosen up the fibres. Press down firmly across the full width of the top with one hand and pull gently with the other until the fibres just start to move. That’s it. No more. You just want to loosen the fibres, not draft them.


Move your hands about a staple length and repeat. Here’s what you’ll end up with:


Next, we’ll make the rolags. I use an old wooden rolling pin. It is well worn from years of use, has no rough edges and is a nice diameter for rolag-making. If you’re using a piece of dowel, ensure it is completely smooth by sanding it with fine sandpaper before use.

Wind the top around the rolling pin once as shown in the photo below:


Press down on the rolling pin with one hand and pull apart with the other. Roll up the remaining piece of fibre and slide it off the rolling pin.


That’s it! Keep going until you’re done with the rest of your fibre and spin your heart out.

Happy Spinning!


  1. Great tutorial, thanks!!

    Comment by Sherie — January 24, 2010 @ 6:59 am

  2. I can’t looking at the rolags at the top and drooling. Gorgeous.

    Comment by DrCris — January 24, 2010 @ 7:33 am

  3. I heard the Katoomba singing my name! Pop those in the mail, would you? There’s a good fella.

    Comment by DebbieB — January 24, 2010 @ 7:50 am

  4. I will have to try this! thanks for the detailled instructions. Sometimes I take combed top and card it with hand cards to make rolags, but your way seems much more reasonable. My way, it seems I am just introducing little knots and tangles into my already great fiber.

    Thanks David! as always, you Rock!

    Comment by Jolene — January 24, 2010 @ 8:06 am

  5. Retire the handcombs ? Woot !

    Comment by Audrey Edwards — January 24, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  6. I love this! Using a rolling pin is a wonderful idea, not too thick and not too thin, just right. I’ll have to give this a try.

    Comment by jody — January 24, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  7. Oh my gosh, this is a great idea! I love spinning from rolags for long draw but I hate making them with hand cards. I will certainly be trying this in the future.

    Comment by Hannahbelle — January 26, 2010 @ 6:30 am

  8. Really awesome tutorial! I have been working on my double drafting with rolags made on my handcards, but this is an excellent idea I will try with some handpainted top.

    Comment by Katie — January 26, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  9. Great technique. I sure would like to see a photo of the finished yarn.

    Comment by Rebeccajc — February 8, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

  10. […] “Green Tea” from Southern Cross Fibre Spinning method: Woollen spun 3-ply from rolags (see post here for details) Yardage: 174 yards / 160 metres Weight: 3 ounces / 86 grams Yards per Pound: 927 ypp […]

    Pingback by Southern Cross Fibre » Ravelympics – A Slow Start — February 18, 2010 @ 5:56 am

  11. […] “Green Tea” from Southern Cross Fibre Spinning method: Woollen spun 3-ply from rolags (see post here for details) Yardage: 2100 yards / 1930 metres Weight: 39 ounces / 1100 grams Yards per Pound: 920 […]

    Pingback by Southern Cross Fibre » Ravelympics – Yarn Finished — February 26, 2010 @ 2:20 am

  12. wonderful tutorial! I’ve been wanting to figure out how to turn tops into rolags. I fell in love with long draw but I really only have tops at the moment :) Thanks!

    Comment by amie — March 11, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  13. Wow David, you’ve just made my day with this tutorial. Thank you so much! I love rolags too, but just don’t have the time to devote to hand carding. I’m going to try this. You’re a genious!

    Comment by Faith — March 13, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  14. Great tutorial and wonderful photos as always David. Thank you :)

    Comment by jam_mam — March 22, 2010 @ 5:40 am

  15. Oh, thanks for this technique! I thought I had to hand-card all my rolags, but now I will try this! I also love the long draw method and it’s so super quick!!

    Comment by Chandi — April 23, 2010 @ 3:29 am

  16. As a new spinner, loving long draw, and seeing so many gorgeous combed tops available on the marketplace, I am very happy to read this post! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by twinsetellen — June 13, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

  17. I have been looking for a method like this. Thanks so much for step by step instructions.

    Comment by philnmtl — August 9, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  18. Thank you. I spin with support spindles and can not believe how much using rolags improves the uniformity of my drafts and yarn. I saw it on revelry.

    Comment by Ginny — January 15, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

  19. […] time to try something new. I turned it into fauxlags after watching David’s video and reading his description again. I had been trying to figure out what I could use to roll them. I didn’t want to use a […]

    Pingback by Saturday spinning update: ooh, shiny | Natalie Servant Designs — February 17, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  20. airbnb paris pretty paris grenelle…

    Southern Cross Fibre » Making Rolags from Combed Top…

    Trackback by airbnb paris pretty paris grenelle — March 15, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

  21. Learn More Here…

    Southern Cross Fibre » Making Rolags from Combed Top…

    Trackback by Learn More Here — May 2, 2013 @ 3:55 am

  22. […] Southern Cross Fibre » Making Rolags from Combed Top From southerncrossfibre.com - Today, 6:36 AM more… Delete the scoop? […]

    Pingback by Southern Cross Fibre » Making Rolags from... — January 17, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress