Colorful Rolags for Spinning

Back when I was new to yarn spinning I purchased a few pounds of merino top. Turns out, I had no idea how boring it would be to spin bobbin after bobbin of undyed wool. I had to find a way to add some color! This tutorial shows you how to add color and texture with add-ins using minimal tools. You will want to be familiar with how to load fiber onto the handcards and how to brush the fiber from one carder to the other. I was unable to really show those steps in photos, but there are plenty of youtube tutorials that cover the basics of hand carding.



Gather Supplies

A pair of hand carders and a set of wooden dowels (I’ve used chop sticks in a pinch), are the only tools needed. You will also need some fiber and add-ins. I used merino top and tussa silk, but feel free to experiment with locks, tinsel, or any combination of fiber and add- ins that you’d like for yarn spinning.

First Layer

Place one layer of your main fiber on the hand cards. You will most likely want to use some sort of wool fiber in a solid or semi-solid color for best results.

Second Layer and Carding

Now place a layer of silk or any other other add-ins you would like to use. Then make one pass with the carders to lightly blend your fibers together.

Using Dowels

For this step you can lay the carder flat on a table or hold it by the handle between your knees with the fiber facing away from you. Place one dowel behind the fiber that is sticking out from the top end of the carder, and place the other dowel in front of the fiber.

Rolling the Fiber

Now, grasping the ends of the dowels, roll the fiber from the top of the carder to the bottom, keeping it close against the tines of the carder. If you’ve ever used a blending board, you might be inclined to pull on the dowels in order to draft the fiber as you roll. For these rolags, don’t pull/draft! Just roll them right up like a jelly roll.


Lift the dowels along with your newly rolled fiber off the carder. You may want to roll it like a rolling pin over the carder a couple times just to tighten up your rolag and make sure it holds together well. Finally, pull one dowel out of the center of the rolag, then pull the second dowel out. Make several and spin up a colorful skein!



Have fun experimenting with different fibers and add-ins! I would love to see your creations if you try out this method. Tag me on instagram @mcgehee_textiles.