How To Ply Yarn

...or Process Part 5 of Spinning Yarn on a Spindle. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

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After how much time it took my hands to learn how to draft fiber and flick a spindle, plying yarn seemed like such a simple thing. Put two or more singles together (or one single that’s been doubled or tripled) and spin them together counter-clockwise to make one intertwined strand. That’s it. The only thing I had to think about was how much twist to add. It seemed so much simpler than spinning up the singles but I knew there was more to it. At the same, I wasn’t worried about the details because I knew I’d figure them out eventually.

So, if you’re worried about ruining your singles, just jump in and go for it. As long as you ply opposite the singles and add enough twist, you’re golden.  

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A spindle, 2-ply plying ball, and a bowl for wrangling.

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Tie the singles together in a knot. If you’re using a top whorl spindle, slip the hook between the plies. For a bottom whorl, tie the singles around the shaft.

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Flick the spindle counter-clockwise to add twist since singles are typically spun clockwise.

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Once there’s at least an arm’s length of yarn and you’re happy with the amount of twist, wrap the yarn around the shaft. Bring the yarn back around to the hook or tie a slip knot and leave just yarn enough free to get the spindle going again. 

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Repeat until you have one very full spindle and all the singles are plied. Woot!

To get your new yarn off the spindle and into a skein, you can wrap the yarn around your arm from palm to wrist or use a niddy noddy. Add a few ties around the skein to keep it from tangling.

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Wash the skein to set the twist (I like Eucalan for this part) and hang it up to dry after a few good thwacks.  In this case, a thwack is pulling at both ends of the skein to make the fibers bloom and even out the twist. You don’t have to be about it gentle either. 

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Ready to knit.

Now that I’ve gotten a little more practice under my belt, I’m beginning to see more of the nuances of plying. I’m refining my technique and experimenting with different methods (chain plying, anyone?). I’m making yarn that I love and can’t wait to knit with once I find that perfect pattern. This never would have happened I hadn’t thrown caution to the wind, and just tried in the first place. The first skein isn’t perfect but it’s still yarn and a first step.