How much roving to spin yarn?

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Original Post

pamlacey says

Hi Everyone,

I'm a felter and I dye my own roving. My sister is an avid knitter and as a gift, I'd love to have some of my hand-dyed roving spun into yarn for her. I know there are a lot of variables to answering this question, so ball park is fine. I just want to order the right amount of wool for dyeing.

She's a size small - medium and knits a lot of sweaters. So how much roving would I need to dye to produce how much yarn for an average sweater? I have no idea how much roving is required to make X yards of yarn. Is there a formula to help gauge the quantity?

How much would you estimate I should expect to pay to have someone spin the yarn for me? Again, clueless and sure wouldn't want to offend anyone by asking/expecting a price that's too low. As a fellow artist, I respect the value of what goes into producing our work/items.

(Now I'm going to cross my fingers that she doesn't frequent this area of the Etsy site!)

Thanks bunches for whatever help you might be able to offer!


Posted at 10:09pm Aug 14, 2010 EDT


I think you would go by weight~ 8 oz. of roving will make 8 oz. of yarn, and the yardage will depend on the weight of the spun yarn~ ie if it is worsted weight, there is an average yardage for worsted weight yarn/ oz. vs. bulky weight.

So the sweater she makes ~ yardage will depend on weight and pattern...

Hopefully a spinner can help you more specifically :)

Posted at 10:20pm Aug 14, 2010 EDT

rosieok says

here's a quick link it will vary depending on how fine you spin, if you plan on spinning a single or plying, how much roving gets wasted when dyeing etc...

if you have a commercial pattern you want to use look at the yardage for her size and make some samples from roving you have and make a rough estimate from that + a bit extra.

says you're thinking of having someone spin for you so you could send this to a few sellers with the type of pattern you'd want it spun for and ask for a general extimate -how much roving they'd need to spin to the same guage

you can also look around etsy for the type of yarn you want. they will often include the wpi (wraps per inch) yardage and sometimes the weight so you could make an estimate for the amount of roving you'd need for that. eg a bulky yarn of 2oz might only make 100yds but another super fine yarn weighing 2oz might make 300yds.

Posted at 10:58pm Aug 14, 2010 EDT

rosieok says

not sure if you know and i forgot to say that you may need a finer wool roving than you use currently use for felting.

depending where you read, microns between 15-24 are used for clothing. 19-22 is reasonable for a sweater though.
*the higher the number the rougher the wool.
*lower the number the finer and softer the wool is next to the skin.

i use a 19.5 micron. it's super soft against skin and doesn't give that scratchy feeling. but it's not so fine that i felt it by accident when dyeing it.

Posted at 11:26pm Aug 14, 2010 EDT

UnusualEwe says

In my experience, most spinners have worked out a "basic number" to quote people when they ask such a question. Some charge per oz, some per gauge/oz (like 1ply sport weight, 8 oz = X dollars,) and some will just pull a number out of their ear.

Most of these figures are based on how fast we know we can spin, and what kind of request you are making. So really, you are most likely going to need more info about what sort of yarn you want at least before you can get any help with pricing. Particularly, what size yarn does she like to use most often? That would hit two birds with one stone (yardage/oz and cost.) Unless your convo box has already been swarmed, which is possible.

(I can tell you right now, on my little hand spindle it would take me daaaaaays to spin up a sweaters worth of even the simplest yarn, so I'm calling "Not it!" right now hehe)

Posted at 2:55am Aug 15, 2010 EDT

You need to figure out what pattern you would be using, and what size yarn and how much yardage it calls for. Then, look for a chart like the one here:
That should give you a very rough idea of how many pounds of roving you need to spin up that much yardage. Estimate a bit more, as there is some loss in the spinning process, and some yarns are denser than others.

As to pricing, my costs seem to run about the middle of the road. I know I can spin about the same yardage per hour, whether I'm spinning thick or thin. It takes more time to ply the yarn back on itself. A rough rule of thumb I use for pricing is to look at the yardage, move the decimal point over, and multiply by 2. So 100 yards is 10 x 2 = $20.

Posted at 3:43am Aug 15, 2010 EDT

Knitspin says

Usually and it depends on how her body is beside what type of pattern she wants to used. But usually you need about 2-3 lb of fiber to spin on the thin side of the yarn metric. That can be for someone that is small figure. If she is medium, large or bigger thant I would add 1 lb per size to that 2-3 lb to start with. Also this depends on the type of yarn you want too. The thicker the yarn the more fiber you will need so take that into consideration too.

Now for spinning, it all depends on what type of yarn you want and spinning for someone else you need to ask a lot of question for you to feel good about the person that is going to spin the fiber into yarn. Take a look at the spinners shop, read their description. Also take a look at how much they charge for the yarn that they are selling. This will give you a feel for the spinners and if you find a style of yarn from a spinner that you like than go ask her question about custom spinning your fiber. It is very important that you check them out first before committing to get them anything to spin.
Some of us, can't tell you how long it will take to spin into yarn and that is because we are in the middle of fiber festival and it might take longer to make since we are home probably 2-3 days a week before we need to pack and go on to another festival.

If you have any question send them by covo or post here. I will be glad to help you out.

Posted at 9:21am Aug 15, 2010 EDT

pamlacey says

Thanks so much! This has all been so helpful. I'll be seeing my sister in couple of weeks, so I'll ask some not so obvious questions. She's been taking some amazing classes, most recently about designing her own sweater. I'll see what she's up to. If I can get her into a yarn shop (oh the struggle - haha), I could also go with choosing a really nice pattern based on some things we talk about/see, even if for a cowl (she loves those too) and then have the yarn spun specifically for that pattern. Then she still has the choice to make that pattern or another, especially if I give her extra. I work with merino mostly and was thinking about a merino silk mix or perhaps something with a really soft shetland. I expected it would take someone a long time to spin the yarn, so I'll be starting the process long before the holidays and expecting the spinner will need ample time.

I'm planning to go to the new Fiber Festival held in November in West Springfield, MA. Anyone vending at that? It always fun to hi to someone from Etsy.

Thanks again - now to do a little investigative digging with my sister. '-)


Posted at 6:47pm Aug 15, 2010 EDT

pamlacey says

One other question - do spinners prefer to work with roving or batts? Wondered if it made a difference or if any form of wool is fine for spinning.



Posted at 7:17pm Aug 15, 2010 EDT

UnusualEwe says

Myself, it doesn't really matter. It takes all of about 30 seconds and a little ripping action to section off a batt into roving. Those with sewing machines or mother marions can spin right off the corner of the batt.

And although I do see a re-write of the "No wire hangers!" scene going in my head right now, I seriously doubt anyone will have a hissy fit over the way your fiber gets to them.

Posted at 7:40pm Aug 15, 2010 EDT