Monday, November 10, 2008

a little bit of plying

I decided to jump in at the deep end and teach myself to navajo ply. I must have been feeling incredibly adventurous! I figured that I understood the concept... and really... it couldn't be all that hard, could it???

I know that some of you have no background at all in the world of spinning... when you take the raw fleece, and twist it into a single strand of yarn... that process is called spinning. When you take two or more strands of yarn and twist them together (in the opposite direction to which they were first spun) to make a thicker, stronger yarn... that process is called plying.

With navajo plying, you take a single strand of spun yarn and work it into giant chain stitches (just like crochet) with your hands as you ply it... the result is a three ply yarn, created from a single bobbin.

Sounds a little bit complicated, doesn't it?

Well... as I was saying... I was obviously feeling incredibly adventurous... and I just ploughed straight into it. The process felt fairly simple and I seemed to be in control of what I was doing... but I'm not convinced by the results.

pigs tails

Obviously, like any new technique, it will take practice... but can anyone tell me what these little 'pig tails' are about??? I know they're not supposed to be there - but I have LOTS of them! In fact, my yarn is pretty much full of them.

Am I putting too much twist into my plying? Or was there too much twist in the original bobbin? Have I even understood the navajo plying concept correctly? These are the questions I need to find answers to...

My yarn is also a little tough. I wouldn't quite call it rope, but it doesn't have the softness to it which I was hoping for.

Not that I'm disappointed. Please don't get me wrong. I'm just looking for how I can learn from the experience. Good golly... that was my FIRST ATTEMPT... and it actually looks like yarn... I'm delighted and encouraged by that!

And it has fabulous character. Those 'pig tails' will make an interesting feature when the yarn is worked up...

Now to decide... knit or crochet... and what shall I make?

first navajo


JC said...

I'm no expert at spinning, but these insights might help...

When you spin, the thicker areas acquire less "twist" than the thinner areas. That means that the thinner areas are more likely to be over-spun, crimp back on themselves and leave you pigtails.

Things that can help. Obviously, less "lumpy" singles. This is hard to do when you're beginning (when you're learning), and hard to avoid if you're making a deliberately bumpy yarn.

When you're plying, make sure that you're spools have some tension/friction on them, so when you pull on them they don't untwist more than you want them to. Yarn will tend to ply with itself if you have too much "slack."

Spin your yarn with less twist. Personally, I tend to overspin my yarn a little bit because I like a nice, tight twist, and I like my yarn to have very little give or stretch to it. A less spun yarn is looser, puffier, and has more stretch to it.

As for why your yarn turned out not as soft as you anticipated... this could be because you overspun it, so when it plied it still had quite a bit of unnecessary twist in it. It would mean that the fibers are more compacted together, so the yarn has less loft. It could also be because of the fiber you chose. Finally, I find that my 3-ply tends to be a bit more "rope-y" than my 2-ply. I don't really know why, it's just my experience.

Hope this helped!

laughing purple goldfish said...

jc - sweetie... thank you so very much for your detailed response... wonderful information, and I really appreciate it! I definitely have too much slack on my spools when plying (in fact, it was driving me insane the way far too much yarn was coming out at any given time) so I will have to investigate the best way to add some tension... and yet, it didn't dawn on me that that might be the problem... thanks again :)

Sam said...

I think it looks really good, and I agree that the pig tails will look great in a project.

Obviously can't answer any of your questions. I'm still trying to get my head round the idea that you spin the fleece in one direction, then ply in the opposite. (Why? Doesn't it un-"spin"?) And Navajo plying made a whooshing noise as it travelled over my head, lol.

Just Money said...

The only person I know that spins is spinninggrandma. You can find her here:

I hope she can help you.

Oh, by the way I would love to see something crochet with that great yarn.


oglasi said...

good post

Robert said...

That has got to take a lot of practice.

laughing purple goldfish said...

sam - it's a confusing new wold, isn't it... but fun... so much fun! oh and the yarn doesn't untwist, because it is wrapping around a second strand

renee - thanks for the link... I'll definitely go and visit spinninggrandma

oglasi - thank you

robert - yes... and I need a lot more practice I think :) just as well it's fun!