What Is Pin Drafted Roving And When Should You Use It?

Handspinners love to work with fibers that are new to us, whether it’s a new to us wool or a new to us fiber preparation like pin drafting.

What is pin drafted roving and should you use it or are you better off using the roving you have now?

Pin drafted roving is roving that has been put through an additional preparation step to partially align the wool fibers. Pin drafting is an intermediate fiber preparation between roving and combed top.

Which Roving Should You Use? goes over all of the mill sourced roving preparations, if you want to compare pindrafting to your other options.

What is pin drafted roving?

Pin drafted roving is roving that has been put through an additional preparation step to make the fibers in the roving more aligned than they currently are in the roving.

Pin drafting is an in between step, between roving, where the fibers are going in multiple directions, and top, where the fibers are parallel and flowing in one direction.

Pin drafting will not remove the shorter fibers or all of the noils or VM (vegetable matter) that would be removed if that same fiber were put through processing again for combed top.

What this really means is if the fleece that is pin drafted has any significant amount of contamination, either VM or second cuts, those unwanted little odd bits will still be in the finished pin drafted roving.

brown alpaca wool blend, pindrafted
This is a close up of the pindrafted roving I purchased. You can see the fibers are not as well aligned as they would be in combed top and the pindrafting left in more VM than I was expecting.

When should you spin pin drafted roving?

Pin drafted roving is ideal for those times when you want a yarn with a bit of bounce, but not too much.

If you want more “life” to your fiber than top but roving is a bit too much, consider pin drafted roving, since it is a nice more middle ground preparation.

You should reconsider pin drafted roving if you need your prepared fiber to be super clean and free of any and all shorter fibers.

Pin drafting is not enough for your spinning fiber to be at this level of perfection, it will need to be further processed into combed top.

Best Places To Buy Handspinning Wool gives you some ideas on where to find your project fibers.

Pin-drafted roving is one of my favorite preparations because it’s a balance between the bouncy, lively feel of roving and the smooth consistency of combed top.

Kate Larson https://spinoffmagazine.com/ode-pindrafted-roving/

My experience with pin drafted roving

I have to admit, I purchased a pin drafted alpaca and wool blend, mainly to try it out to see what the “big deal” is with pin drafted roving.

I have only done a bit of test spinning and knitting with it, but so far, I find it has way more VM than I would have thought from a processed fiber.

I commonly work with our own wool from our sheep, so I am used to VM and working around it, even so, I am still surprised at the level of little bits in this fiber, mostly because it was put through a fiber mill.

Please note, this is not a criticism of pin drafted wool, this is more about me not understanding what I was buying and then being surprised with the fiber that showed up.

How could I order next time to get pin drafted roving that suits me better? That’s easy, read the description very, very carefully and have no tolerance for VM.

The fact that this fiber would have VM in it was listed out, I did not realize to what extent it would be and how I would feel about that VM when spinning, it’s my mistake.

I’ll have to work more with this roving and what I can change to make it work better for me. Also, ordering another bump of pin drafted roving to see if this is a one off or normal, is surely a good idea!

The other factor is that is adding confusion, at least for me, is that I have not spun alpaca before, so part of the challenge of working with this roving surely is that some of the fiber in it is new to me.

I’m not sure if the wool or the alpaca is the source of the VM (maybe both!), but either way, the new to me preparation with the new to me fiber will take some more work on my part to figure out how to use it.

Ode To Pin-drafted Roving is a Spin Off article by Kate Larson, if you are interested in her take on pin drafting.

Where do you get pin drafted roving?

Pin drafted roving is available online from shops or individuals that have had their fiber professionally processed at a fiber mill.

Pin drafted fiber is not made at home. Of course, I’m sure some creative individual could set up a way to pin draft her own wool, but as far as I am aware, most folks don’t.

If they want pin drafted roving, they pay for it to be processed at a mill.

Why isn’t pin drafted roving more common?

Pin drafted roving was actually more difficult to find that I would have guessed. I’m not saying it was hard, just not as easy as I figured, which makes me wonder why is that?

The idea of pin drafting roving sounds good, at least to me. I think a lot of spinners would appreciate the “taming” down of a normal roving but not so much as a combed top.

If it sounds good to the spinner, the lack of pin drafted roving for sale must be something else.

The only thing I have been able to come up with is that since pin drafting roving is an additional step, it adds cost to the roving and needs to be done in larger quantities than the other fiber preparations.

The mill processor’s price sheet that I found listed out a minimum poundage for pin drafting at 44 pounds.

That is a lot of wool for a small producer processing wool from her own sheep, especially since the other processing minimums were 7 pounds.

This leads me to think that between higher minimum poundages and added costs, most small fiber producers choose to go with “roving” which is actually combed top, instead.

Especially since the extra processing of combing removes any of the little oddities that remain if that same fiber is pin drafted, which would make pin drafted roving less attractive to most spinners.

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