Tips And Tricks Thursday – Plying

Photo credit: Plying with spindle and nostepinne by Woollymphotos on Flickr

Handspun singles are fun to work with and are quick and easy to spin but sometimes you might be looking for something different in your handspun yarns.  You might be looking for a more durable yarn, you might want to experiment with handpainted fiber and how it looks in two or more strands spun together, or you might just enjoy the look of a nicely plied yarn.  Whatever the reason, chances are that if you continue with your spinning you will eventually look toward learning to ply your handspun.

There are many, many resources out there for people to enjoy now so today I will list a few of my favorites:

1.  This knitty article explains my favorite way to ply on a drop spindle.  If you get tired of plying or need to scoot off to do something else, just slip the singles from your wrist over your hand and onto an empty toilet paper tube.  Your spinning won’t get tangled and it will be ready and waiting for you the next time you want to spin.

2.  Andean Plying “How To”.  This technique is worked similar to the link above but the singles are wrapped around the hand in a slightly different manner.  This page has a picture that would be great to print out and stick to your fridge for quick and easy reference.

3.  Megan LaCore demonstrates how to ply from two separate balls of singles in this video:

4.  Abby Franquemont offers more options for plying in this great article on her website, including making a two ply ball out of the singles for plying portability.

A really important note to remember when plying is that you will generally be plying in the opposite direction that you spin in.  So if your spindle is spinning clockwise when you are creating your singles, you will need to spin your spindle counter-clockwise when plying.

For those of you who really want to get jiggy with it, you can also learn to Navajo ply (also called chain ply).  This is a technique where you can take your single and turn it into a 3 ply yarn.  How cool is that!

I would recommend that you get comfortable with one of more of the above plying methods first but if you are super eager to give it a go, go for it.  It does take more coordination than the previous methods.

Simply Notable has a fantastic step-by-step photo tutorial on how to Navajo ply on a drop spindle . This would be an excellent page to print out for quick reference.

Paradise Fibers has a video demonstration for Navajo plying on a drop spindle if you would like to see the whole process in action:

And just because I’m in a silly mood today (and because I referenced it in the Navajo plying section), I’ll leave you with a little music … Getting Jiggy With It by Will Smith.

Happy spinning all!

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