Lap Waste: A Definition

After posting this Tuesday’s Spring Single, I got to thinking . . . what is “lap waste” anyway? And is it different from “mill ends”? I was sold “mill ends” and “lap waste” from different sources and they pretty much look the same, spin the same, and, well, are the same. Here’s my “waste” bin–pretty, right? These fibers are not exactly on their way to becoming fiber fill or dryer balls! I’ve spun up a lot (I know, I know–there is still a LOT left!), and it’s produced some great yarn–including my Spring Single.


The “mill ends” are on the left and the “lap waste” is on the right in this image.

So, off to do some research! According to The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles, mill ends are related to fabric runs, rather than fiber runs:

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You can find a good, modern example of such mill ends at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store. By this definition, “lap waste” would be the more correct term when we’re talking about fiber that is basically broken up pieces of top, roving, sliver, or other preparations. Check out these definitions from The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles:

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I found a few older publications (around the World Wars), such as The Waste Trade Journal, that focus on all of the industrial waste products that are useful, from metal to paper to fiber. And there are a few contemporary recycling efforts that help make waste wool useful beyond spinning and yarn-production. And, yes, as long as we are going down the “waste” chute: there’s also “throwster’s waste,” which, as far as I can tell comes from silk production . . . maybe I’ll leave that for another post 🙂

The trick with lap waste is to make the most of it and embrace the randomness of color and texture. Sometimes, you get lucky. I have a few 4oz chunks of lap waste that are all the same color and fiber. Wahoo! But the other bits and bobs will likely meet my drum carder and be added to batts as contrast or accent colors. Other folks love to use lap waste for needle and other felting projects. My dear Amazon reviewer and I are working on a brief tutorial about working with lap waste for beginners–using it requires some prep and sorting time and lots of spinning joins. But the results can be terrific! And have I mentioned the cost savings? Yeah. I’ll post the video tutorial here as soon as it’s ready. In the meantime, get ye some lap waste and enjoy!

This entry was posted in big questions, definition, fiber, history, information, lap waste, mill ends, tricks and tips. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Lap Waste: A Definition

  1. polwygle says:

    I’ve always thought of mill ends as being what remains after meeting the length requirements for spooling, be it fabric or yarn. I had never considered roving! Enjoy your waste. 🙂


  2. Pingback: Merino and silk laps – Seaford Spinners and Weavers

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