For my birthday, my wonderful sister Linda got me a Blending Board. She also included a bunch of wonderful and colorful roving to go with it!! A Blending board is used to blend fibers for spinning. You can also use it for combing out fiber to straighten it. I find it MUCH easier to use than 2 combs and I like using the rolags created with it. I find them much easier to hold and spin from (I have arthritis in my hands so spinning has not been easy and this makes it better).
Linda and I had been looking at these since we started to spin and I was so excited to actually own one. The board does come with directions but I have had much more luck with the You Tube videos I have watched (listed below). It is a simple process but does take a bit of practice.
To begin, you need a firm non-skid surface to work on. I use a piece of Rubbermaid non-skid shelf liner under mine and it holds it pretty well. You will be pushing and pulling on the board, especially when you remove the roving by making rolags, so you need a steady surface to work on like a table that won’t move around when leaning against it ( the lady in the video uses this board on her lap but I couldn’t do it that way, I found I needed the edge of a table to hold it steady when taking the roving off in rolags. You may find it works fine on your lap).
You start by taking a strip or pieces of roving and wipe it on the board by catching the needles and pulling it downward. It doesn’t have to be started at the top, you can actually start anywhere on the board if you are adding different colors. You add what color(s) you want to until the board is covered but not too deeply. If the roving is too thick on the board, it makes it very hard to push it down into the needles and if it is too deep, you won’t be able to brush it down into the needles evenly. You need to brush the roving into the needles in order for the fibers to align from top to bottom.
You will do as many layers as you want, depending on what you are looking for in your finished yarn. You can add bits of novelty yarns, Angelina fibers, locks and all kinds of fibers. It is fun to design your own yarn this way! When you are happy with it, turn the board around so that the leg underneath is against a table or the edge of something sturdy. Pull the bottom of the roving up a bit on the end and position the 2 dowels so one is over and one is under this and wrap a little on the dowels so it is firmly on and then push forward to draft out, wrap, draft, over and over until you have about a quarter of the board on your dowels. Finish by rolling it on the needles to lock it all together and pull first one dowel out and then the other. Yay, a rolag!! I may not have explained this as well as I could and I cannot stress enough that you go watch the You Tube video (it is in 2 parts) below. It is much easier to actually watch it.
I have made a number of rolags now and have spun most of them (see photos below). I tried to remember to take pictures as I went for the blog. For me, I find the rolags easier to work with but that might just be me. They are light and fit my hand well. It is really fun to mix colors and so far it is a surprise when I spin it. I expect you should / could plan ahead so you would have a big basket of the same rolag and would know pretty well what you will have at the end. I am still experimenting so I try to make enough so I can make something with it but so far it is just fun to try new things. I may have a bunch of hats or headbands because I get bored doing the same color combination over and over; I am always thinking about what might work with this or that. I need to find my box of Angelina fibers……
Hopefully this will encourage you to add this to your spinning equipment! It was enough for me to know that my sister HAD to have one of these so I ordered her one. We have the Fancy Kitty brand but there are many others out there and you can also find the cloth (the part with the needles) and add it to a board of your own to keep costs down.
Fancy Kitty Bending Board: http://www.fancykitty.com/blending-palette.html
You Tube Video, Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYUWXqqVALU