Where to Find Wool Roving between Boston, MA and Providence, RI

Hello, dear blog readers!

I hope you’ll forgive this brief break from the henna stuff while I take a moment to serve as a sign post to those who were looking for the same things I was, and finding it nowhere.

Wool roving – it’s not that easy to find!

I had this idea to use up my extra merino wool yarn from scarf projects by making felted soaps. I travel a lot and hoard mini hotel soaps. Plus, whoever is vending soaps is usually the #1 most likely person to want to trade me for henna on a slow festival day. It makes sense – both are all natural, slightly luxurious, handmade self-care stuff! Of course we love what each other does! Anyway, the point is this – I had a lot of soaps (an ungodly amount of soaps), and a little extra wool.

The first one went well. But I used up all my remaining wool, per the original plan, in making it. And I was already hooked – hooked on having a fun, easy, mindless project that would yield more Christmas presents, and also hooked on finding some way to pretend that my soap hoarding tendencies were actually going to prove useful.

I went to JoAnn Fabrics, and found that they had something that kind of should work – wool roving from Paton Yarns, twisted into skeins. Since I had basically carded my other much more spun/twisted yarn out into fluffy strands the night before, this seemed like a huge step up.

But when I got home and tried it, it proved to be a pain in the butt to get into a workable state for what I wanted to do. It took longer to hand-unravel than the twisted yarn took to kitty-brush-card apart. And if you try to use the kitty brush to separate it out, it just gets knotted and awful. So you can only do it by hand. And it’s really, REALLY slow.

So I continued looking up how others make felted soaps… because this cannot be the answer. People wouldn’t really put up with doing this much work to make a felted soap, would they?

No, they wouldn’t.
They would buy loose and fluffy wool roving.

I figure that Paradise Fibers won’t get mad if I share their photo of what I mean, so that you understand, if I also link to their site in case you want to buy this stuff online.

This is the stuff that people who do felting, or spin their own wool, use!! You can put it on practically in little sheets, rather than wrapping it around strand by strand. It seems incredibly efficient.

Anyway, when searching on my own for where to buy this, I met with many, many dead ends.

But I asked my friends, and they had answers! Lots of ’em!

Here are the places they recommended:

New England Felt Making Supply – Easthampton, MA
This is the mother lode. They have every kind of roving you could ever dream of or wish for. It doesn’t quite meet my desired travel range of somewhere between Boston and Providence, but it looks like it’s worth a road trip if I keep this up!

Want to follow the instagram of Deb, the nice lady who tipped me off? Look! Hats! Scarves! And really awesome crafty things of all stripes!

Artbeat – Arlington, MA
Don’t be confused – this is not the same as or associated with the Artbeat festival that I do henna at every summer in Somerville, MA. It’s a kid-centric pan-craftopia with high-end kids craft stuff of every stripe. I know about it mostly because of its oddly coincidental and confusing name (when looking for info about the festival) and because a friend used to work there. But yes – this place is so pan-crafty and high-end that they have packs of wool roving in a variety of colors. I just called them to confirm.

Mind’s Eye Yarns – Cambridge, MA
Judging by the supply page, this looks hopeful! There’s “Roving” right in the business name of one of ’em. This was described to me as “the red house yarn place in Porter square” – that’s how I found it with the help of the Google. It looks pretty great, and I will probably stop by there soon.
(looking at their webpage… I wonder if they would trade an upgrade for a website suitable for the 2000’s in exchange for lots and lots of fibercrafting goodies….?)

Both of these tips are from Karyn, a fellow henna artist who is also a music teacher and a pan-crafty woman herself! Go follow her on facebook and such!

Coventry Farmer’s Market – Coventry, CT
This is a recurring farmer’s market where my friend Jessica (an early American historian) used to go when she was at UConn. She says that the alpaca farm that has a stand there sells roving that they dye themselves. It’s pretty much a summertime thing, but worth looking into when the time is right! It also, of course, brings up the very valid point that your best place to get roving is probably from your local farmer. Alpacas seem to be pretty common to keep ’round these parts, and there must be plenty of places happy to sell the wool if you can get in touch with them!

WEBS – Yarn.com – Northampton, MA
Woah. These folks have just about everything you could possibly ever want. This is dangerous, and I see how this hobby could get addicting…and expensive.

Knitscape – Worcester, MA
It looks like they also have a lot here! There’s not much real evidence on their website about whether or not they have roving, but they do mention that they have felting supplies, so they must, right? It’s worth a call, if you’re looking 🙂

Rani, who suggested these two, likes fiber crafting stuff so much that her ceremony/event/art business is called Unravel!

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