So you’ve got some freshly spun yarn that you’re ready to ply. The great news is that you’re half way to finished yarn, and this post will teach you how to take two (or three) single bobbins and ply them into a beautiful, well balanced yarn.
How to Ply Yarn
There are several ways to ply yarn, most commonly used are the Navajo (Chain) ply, and the 2-ply which we will be discussing in this post today.
In order to have a nicely plied finished product, you want to start with singles that are evenly spun. This means that they are as close to the same thickness and with the same twist as possible. It would be a miracle if this happens (even for experienced spinners), so don’t beat yourself up if they are not. We are all learning, after all! The best way to learn is to just do it.
Some people like to let the singles rest a bit before plying. If one yarn is super energized (meaning that it is “fresh” and the yarn wants to untwist) and the other is stale (meaning its been sitting there a while) it could make for a less balanced yarn. Some people say there is no difference, but I thought it worth mentioning at any rate.
First you’ll want to load your lazy kate with the two (or three) singles you wish to ply.
Make sure that the tails from both (all) bobbins are facing the same direction. You don’t want one spinning one direction while the other is going the opposite.)
Using a fresh bobbin, attach both (all three) singles to the leader. I simply tie a knot.
Remember that we will always ply in the opposite direction as you spun the singles. Typically, you’ll spin the singles with a Z twist (clockwise) and ply them with an S twist (counter-clockwise). More on that here.
Keep the front hand closer to the orifice so that you can guide the twist into the yarn, without allowing it to over twist. This just takes practice, but you can check the amount of twist by allowing the plied yarn to hang suspended – just a little bit – in order to see if it hangs there nicely or kinks up on itself. (It should not kink.)
Keep the two yarns separated with your back hand. Try not to put a finger in between the strands. This can cause even the slightest bit of drag on just one of the singles, making half of the yarn tighter than the other, resulting in wobbly yarn.
Now you’ll ply the entirety of both singles around each other and onto one bobbin.
When you run out of yarn on just one of the bobbins, it is time to finish and set your yarn!
If you have enough extra yarn left on just one of the singles (you will always have at least some) then you can use that to practice a Navajo ply, also known as Chain ply.
Things to remember:
Practice with store-bought yarn first so you don’t ruin your handspun. I can not stress this enough! My first dozen (or so) attempts at plying were, shall we say, less than great. It felt like I ruined my hard work – which I did. Practice first with commercial or scrap yarn!
If one of the singles breaks, simply overlap the two broken ends a bit (similar to using a drop spindle) and continue plying. The other single will help to hide the spot and secure it.
With practice you will be a plying fool in no time!