All About Plying with Judith Mackenzie

Why ply? Judith MacKenzie offers a long list of very good reasons in her classic video The Gentle Art of Plying (2009, Interweave). Plied yarns can balance loft and durability for plump knitted stitches or be dense and hardworking for rug warps.

If you are one of the many new and experienced spinners who feel that their plying skills need some fine-tuning, The Gentle Art of Plying is for you.

In Judith’s two-part video on plying, she starts with a conversation about the fundamental structure of plied yarns, how they behave, and why we ply in different directions for different types of knitted and woven textiles.

Judith goes on to explain how she holds singles for plying, where she places her lazy kate, and how you can adjust your wheel for comfortable, successful plying. Small modifications to any of these steps can change your plying practice.

When you feel comfortable with these basics, you can move on to investigate plying mistakes, determining how to fix mistakes, and how to finish your plied yarns for different textile purposes.

plying with Judith MacKenzie

The Schacht Lazy Kate (affiliate link) presents the side of the bobbin to the spinner, allowing the singles to be easily removed during plying.” Photo by Donald Scott

Handspinning should never leave you stressed, experiencing pain in your body, or feeling out of control of your yarn. When some of us begin plying, we might experience one (or all!) of these things. If that sounds familiar, don’t worry—you are not alone! Spend a couple of hours with Judith, carefully watch how she moves around a wheel and how the yarn moves through her relaxed hands, and you’ll start to see how to move your plying practice forward.

And if you’re wondering, “Should I always ply?”— not necessarily. The fact is, most fiber artists, authors, and instructors create plied and singles yarns for all sorts of textiles. As the timeless handspinner’s adage goes, “It just depends!”

If you want to learn more about singles yarns, Jillian Moreno and Kathryn Alexander can tell you more in their lessons!


Featured Image: Spend a few hours exploring the gentle art of plying with Judith MacKenzie… Photo by Kate Larson

Learn more about plying!

One Comment

  1. Terri G at 10:45 am December 13, 2018

    Thanks, Kate, perfect timing! I’ve been doing some plying and needed the refresher. TTFN, Terri in New Mexico

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