If you have spent anytime at all looking over your spinning fiber options, you will have likely come across something called pencil roving. What on earth is pencil roving and what would you use it for, anyway?
Pencil roving is a thin wool roving, generally as thin or thinner than a pencil, that is used for spinning with little or no drafting. Pencil roving can be used with or without spinning it first and as the only spinning fiber or as an add in fiber for spinning, for instance using pencil roving to add spots of color or texture to yarn.
How To Spin Pencil Roving For Beginners goes over what you need to know to spin this special roving!
Pencil roving is thin roving
Pencil roving is a very thin round roving, so named because it is normally about the size of a pencil or smaller.
There are a variety of sizes of pencil roving and each fiber shop seems to have their own version.
All of the pencil rovings are thinner than normal roving, but that’s about where the similarities end.
Some pencil rovings have a noticeable twist and look like they are already spun into a nice bulky yarn, some don’t look to have any twist at all and some look just like worsted weight yarn!
Shop around a bit and see the variety of pencil rovings available to you. There are a ton of options, every shop seems to do their pencil roving a bit differently than the next!
Best Roving For Handspinners gives you a few easy to work with options and some tips to keep in mind when choosing your fiber.
Pencil roving is ideal for spinning with minimal drafting
Pencil roving will be great for anyone who wants to do as little drafting as possible when spinning.
Pencil roving would be great for a beginning handspinner who wants to work more on treadling and have less drafting to do.
Pencil roving is not the best choice for some spinners
Pencil roving is not the best choice for all handspinners, of course not!
Pencil roving a neat fiber preparation to try, for sure, but nothing is ideal for all situations, so here are some things that pencil roving is not the best option for.
If you enjoy drafting out your fibers as you spin, pencil roving may not be for you, especially since the main point of pencil roving is to reduce the amount of drafting needed!
If you tend to overdraft
If you tend to overdraft your fiber when spinning, then pencil roving isn’t an ideal choice for you, unless you change your ways or want to use pencil roving specifically to work on your drafting!
In case you are wondering, you can tell if you are overdrafting your fiber because your yarn will break at the thin spots.
The break in your yarn could also be caused by lack of twist, but if the fiber has enough twist the problem is likely to be that there isn’t enough fiber in the yarn to begin with, overdrafting strikes again.
If the end yarn is bigger than a pencil
The other reason that pencil roving may not work for you and your planning spinning project is the size of the pencil roving compared to the size of yarn you want to end up with.
True, this would be more for the really thin “already looks like yarn” pencil roving, but it is something to consider. You can’t spin a yarn that is thicker than the amount of fiber you have.
What you could do is double or triple up on the pencil roving you are spinning, but this would defeat the purpose of using pencil roving to begin with!
Pencil roving can be added to other spinning
Another use of pencil roving is to use it to add to other spinning projects, more in an art yarn kind of way.
If you are with the main fiber, but you would like to add a bit of interest and texture to the yarn as well, taking bits of pencil roving and adding them periodically to your yarn is an easy way to get creative!
Pencil roving could also be added to weaving
Just like you would choose to add a bit of color or texture to your spinning, you could also choose to incorporate some pencil roving to add a bit of color or texture to your weaving!
Pencil roving can be knitted without spinning first
Pencil roving, especially the more loosely twisted pencil rovings, would be super to use for a nice fluffy knit that you plan to felt down!
Wow, would this make a great, easy to work with felted project!
I tried knitting the pencil roving without spinning it first, it worked just fine! It looked like a fluffy single ply yarn.
I used a double strand for a swatch then a single, both were easy to use and only broke in spots where the roving was already a bit thin. It was easy.
Of course, you wouldn’t have to felt your knitted (or crocheted) pencil roving, you could just enjoy a beautifully puffy knit!
Pencil roving can be used for thrumming
Another use of pencil roving that is coming up in popularity is thrumming, which is putting little poofs of extra wool in with your knitting to make more of an insulation on the inside of knitted items like mittens.
The extra wool can be puffs of pencil roving that are just torn off and added every few stitches on spaced out rows or, I have also seen loops of the thinner pencil roving put inside the mitten, all to add warmth.
Using pencil roving for added warmth actually would be easier than working with tufts of loose wool, since the roving would be consistent from the start, whereas the tufts of wool you pick can vary a bit more.
Pencil roving is used for felting
Pencil roving can also be used for felting.
Weir Crafts has a selection of pencil roving for felting, specifically (so it’s in shorter lengths), and suggests that pencil roving be used for making letters and borders in both wet and needle felting projects.
The pencil roving for spinning is one full length for the entire 4 ounce ball that you buy. Pencil roving for felting is sold in shorter lengths, be sure you order the spinning bags if you decide to give pencil roving a shot.