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.