Handspinning for Beginners – Plying Yarn
In this article, I will go over plying yarn in a two-ply. This just means two strands spun simply together in the same direction (opposite of the direction they were spun so they can felt together a teeny bit). There are many variations and styles of plying but seeing as this is a beginner series we will start here. I pulled up photos from my very first plying experience to share. My yarn was so cushy and bulky that it shows the process better than the dark fiber I have been using recently. The natural colors also make it easier to see for those who may have trouble viewing certain colors. Using these older photos also allows me to showcase mistakes I made as well that others may experience as they learn.
If you are just starting out you may not want to invest in all the different “gear” there is available. One such thing is bobbins. With spinning, I generally see a lot of wood bobbins which makes them quite pricey. So instead I used (and still use!) empty toilet paper rolls. When you have finished spinning your yarn or you have filled your drop spindle and need to move the yarn off to spin more just take an empty roll of toilet paper and cut a slit into it. Take the end of your yarn and slide about an inch worth into the slit facing into the roll. Then start rolling your yarn into the roll from your spindle. When I first did this I just laid my spindle on the ground and gently tugged the yarn off as I went. You may want to do this in sections and hold the spindle in your lap or have someone else handle your spindle as you work. When you get to the end cut a slit into the opposite side and tuck the end in to hold it in place for later use. These work surprisingly well for a thin piece of cardboard.
Next, you may want to buy or make yourself a “Lazy Kate.” It is a tool that holds your bobbins so you can work with the yarn without bobbins flying everywhere. One can be as simple as a few wood pegs standing upright on a heavy board. I made one from an old shoe box and a dowel!
To make your own make sure your bobbins or toilet paper rolls can fit comfortably side by side in the box.
Then cut a hole using the tip of some scissors or another sharp tipped item and poke the dowel through. I used caution with the scissors but had to take a picture single handed so it looks stupidly dangerous here!
From there place the rolls on with them feeding the yarn in the same direction. I should also note the yarn needs to be spun in the same direction. As in both need to have been spun clockwise or counterclockwise. When you spin them together the friction will help slightly felt them together so they hold.
At this point, I removed the ends from the slit in the toilet paper and twisted them together before tying them onto the spindle (as you would in starting as shown in the previous article). From there I worked on loosening bits of yarn that were over-spun (you can tell by how it curls up that it is over-spun) and tried to straighten them out a bit before spinning. I spun in the opposite direction (clockwise in this case) than what I had spun the singles. I tested the spin to make sure it wasn’t overspun by loosening it and seeing if it curled up. If it didn’t I wound it onto the spindle and kept going. If it was over-spun I fed it more yarn to loosen the could.
At the end, the over spun bits were pretty bad so it took a bit more time to straighten it all out. It eventually worked out nicely and then I have the cushiest yarn to play with once I finished it by washing it! In the next article, I will tell you how to complete your yarn and the tools you can buy or create yourself!