Spinning – Plying – Getting A Little Better


I know – I have not really been posting much on spinning lately.  Between Christmas and the knitting projects and the immersion in natural dyeing, my wheel as not been getting the attention it deserves.  But the New Year also brought the start of a year of spinning classes directed toward creating a sweater from my own handspun wool.  Woo Hoo!!  I think an Elsbeth Lavold Viking pattern?  Could be great – if I learn just a wee (HAH!) bit more about spinning.

The first class in the series was a basic here is how you spin class that Claudia gave at the Community College.  No pics.  It always seems odd to tell people that you are going to take their picture to publish it on the internet when they may not really want you to do that, so I didn’t take pics.  Because I had basically already taken this class with Claudia, I used part of the end of the class to start plying the blue/brown I showed you three weeks ago (boy – have I been lax in posting).  This was not a plying class though so I was still kinda winging it.  I thought it was okay at the time.  I will show it to you in a bit.

First – lets remember where I am starting from.

The fact that it is in a ball is to save me some of the embarrasment that goes with showing all the kinks and overtwists and nubs and flubs in the overall yarn.   I am going to work with this yarn a little more to see if I can salvage any of it.  I used it today to wrap up the present with Elaine’s sweater in it.  Right now, it is still “cordage”.

This past Saturday was our second class in the series – the plying class.  For this class I needed to have two or more bobbins of spun singles (the term for an unplyed bobbin of spun roving) to ply.  Hmmmm.  I had no empty bobbins left and had not finished plying the blue/brown from the prior class.  So I set to spinning!!  First I finished plying the blue/brown based on what I had gleaned from looking at a couple of (incomplete) videos.  That gave me one skein of 3 ply and one skein of 2 ply “yarn”.  Then I took the Into The Whirled Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) wool Top in the Buddlea colorway that I got at Rhinebeck, and spun that onto two bobbins.

Top is cheating.  Top is made by taking your roving and combing it out with these long toothed rakes so that all of the short fibers come out, leaving you with long straight fibers all aligned in nice rows.  You can just pull apart the top into long thin rows – practically making the idea of drafting non-essential to spinning.  This stuff just flew out of my hands onto the bobbins.  Oh my!!  For folks who just love the spinning without all of the other stuff that goes with the production of roving from wool, this is the way to go!  I was able to fill both bobbins I needed for the class in two evenings – and could have done it in one long evening.

Okay, back to the plying.  What I learned in the class, in addition to alot about how to line up fibers and determine twist, was that after plying and putting in a hank form after winding on your niddy noddy, you need to wash your yarn (15 minutes in a bucket of warm water and Dawn), rinse the soap out (another 15 minutes in warmer to hot water) and then wap it!  Yes, just like it sounds.  Take the hank of yarn you just plyed and hit it (wap!)against a table leg, or a porch railing or a fence post or a cement foundation – moving your hand down the hank about four inches after every few waps – until you have wapped the entire hank.  Yeah, I thought it was pretty crazy too – but the point is that it will take out about 15% of the overtwisting you did during the plying to help the whole thing hang better.

So lets show you some yarn.  After I found out about the washing and wapping I came home and did the same with the blue/brown plyed yarn.  When looking at these, remember that they have not been reskeined yet – just wapped.

Here is the 3-ply – which I got 150 yards of and is in the worsted to bulky range I think.

While it looks pretty messy, after wapping it hung perfectly straight and loose – which is what it should look like after plying.

If you look at the bottom, it is not twisting.

When I had emptied the first bobbin of plyed roving with this one, I spun another smaller skein of two-ply – which was also washed and wapped.

Again – no twist – though very messy.  I am hoping that the reskeining pulls it into a better looking hank of yarn.  I got another 70 yards or so of fingering to dk yarn in the 2 ply.

Which brings us to this week’s BFL – which oddly enough, though it looked loosely plyed at the class, resulted in an overplyed skein – as shown by the counterclockwise twist in the finished hank.

Yes – that is dog hair on the carpet.  It is getting easier and easier to rationalize spending the money on the Dyson hand-held vacuum to keep upstairs – Sigh.

I’m not really sure what to do to correct the twist – so back to the books!!  The colors in this are great.  Here are some pics of the final 4 oz. skein of yarn – 146 yards of worsted weight.

 Now what to make with it.

Thank you all for visiting my blog.  During the past two weeks I really had to think about whether writing this was worth the time – if anyone read it.  However, even during that two weeks there were many views of the blog from all over the world.  It really made me feel good about doing this – that there are at least a few people who have found it useful and/or enjoyable enough to keep coming back.  Thank you.  It re-energized me to keep it up.

And keep trying to get it a little better.  🙂

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About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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5 Responses to Spinning – Plying – Getting A Little Better

  1. Now I feel even worse about the mess I created. Sigh. Love the combination you’ve done, also am lusting after a Dyson Animal vacuum, and am glad you decided to keep blogging.

    • Shelly R. says:

      Oh, we have the Dyson animal vacuum and LOVE it!! It is just heavy to lug up the 17 stairs to the second floor where my office is so this room is not vacuumed anywhere near enough. Caroline came to the knitting part of Saturday and was telling me about her handheld “stick” Dyson that she uses around the house and I started coveting. 🙂 Don’t feel at all bad about your yarn. I thought it looked wonderful from my side of the room. Take a look in the yarn stores – lots of companies are going for that look and getting good money for it. The colors were great and I could easily see it as a hat/mittens set. I also wanted to tell you to definitely keep blogging. You have a wonderful way of writing – very poetic I thought – and if this is what leads you to a future of being published, then it is a good thing.

  2. danielle says:

    Wow! I’d never heard of the wapping before. So you do that when it’s wet? And I think the yarn looks great! Very cowboy.

    • Shelly R. says:

      Yes, and it seems fairly rough to do to my fiber that I have just spent hours caressing into yarn – but that is what you do. In fact, you don’t know what your actually twist is as a yarn until you have done it. She actually said the best thing to use was concrete because if you have short fibers that are loose in the yarn, they will catch to the concrete and pull out. I used the porch support beam. As for these yarns, I must be in a blue/brown mood lately. I like the combination.

  3. Barbara Antonelli says:

    Well I read it all,even though I didn’t understand it all . Lots of work….and fun too, Love,mom

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