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On a Roll with Pseudorolags

Surprise! You don’t need a blending board in order to make colorful rolags! Learn to make “pseudorolags” with these helpful tips. Plus, a bonus project to make for subscribers to Spin Off!

Susan Z. Douglas , Rosemary S. Thomas Oct 31, 2023 - 9 min read

On a Roll with Pseudorolags Primary Image

Learn tips for making colorful pseudorolags. Photos by Joe Coca unless otherwise noted

Susan Z. Douglas (SZD): If the best ideas are brilliantly simple, then the pseudorolag is indeed one of the best. Rosemary Thomas began with a simple, extraordinary method for bundling fiber into a spinnable package.

Rosemary S. Thomas (RST): A friend gave me an old fleece that was, believe it or not, shorn in 1972! I had read about a new spinning technique, and I decided to try it using this old fleece. After a little experimentation, I felt that spinning from folded locks would give me the best results. However, the new technique called for a use of the hands that made it difficult to spin from a lock folded over my finger. Also, I wanted the not-having-to-stop convenience of spinning from a length of top.

I flicked a number of locks, laid them in a row, and then studied the matter. If I laid them out so that they overlapped slightly and I folded the whole bunch lengthwise, then wouldn’t it be a continuous-feed fold? That first try didn’t work because the whole thing fell apart. Then it hit me—roll them.

This fleece was too short-stapled to roll as I had originally planned, so I laid out two ranks of flicked locks, with the locks overlapping. I used a dog comb to aid in rolling the locks into a vaguely tubular shape. It worked! It worked perfectly! The fiber just flowed out of this tube like water from a jug. This preparation made the new spinning technique so much easier! I made lots of these tubes so that I could enjoy an uninterrupted spinning session. Seeing these tubes laying there on the table reminded me of something . . . what was it . . . oh, yes, rolags! And that’s how these rolls got the name pseudorolags.

Photos by Rosemary S. Thomas

Rosemary’s Method

Here’s how Rosemary created—and discovered—her pseudorolags (shown above, left to right).
1. Use a small amount in each flicked lock.
2. Flick one end, then the other.
3. Lay the lock on a piece of fabric. Add another lock, overlapping slightly.
4. A new column of locks has been started.
5. Two columns of locks make a nice rectangle.
6. Begin to roll the fibers into a tubelike shape.
7. Roll a few times in the same direction, not back and forth. Don’t push too hard.
8. Ready to spin!

Why the prefix pseudo? Well, these aren’t actual rolags because, as I understand it, rolags are the result of carding, and these are not carded but made from flicked locks. They spin much like spinning from the fold. I’ll leave it to others to determine whether or not this is a semiworsted or woolen spin, but all I know, and Susan’s experience concurs, is that once the pseudorolag is started, the fibers feed out of it much like they feed out of top.

I was perfectly happy to spin like this forever, ­using flicked locks to make pseudorolags, until Susan e-mailed me out of the blue. Her e-mail read, “. . . I also loved your pseudorolags. I’m going to try them,

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