An Ode to Plying
Ahh, plying. That most important of finishing steps, when the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Plying is where the magic happens – when multiple melodies come together to create a greater harmony.
But what do you choose? 2-ply, 3-ply, Navajo ply, cabled? Will your method of plying balance your yarn, or give it new energy? Blend colors, or highlight them? Create a smooth finished surface, or introduce texture?
It can be easy to treat plying as an afterthought, to put the process on autopilot, or to default to the same tried and true technique every time. But plying is an opportunity for contemplation, experimentation, and deliberate action. And a thorough understanding of plying means a more thorough understanding of your finished yarn. What are its strengths? Its weaknesses? What projects is it best for? Will it hold up to heavy use?
I've been refreshing my skills (and learning a lot of new tips and tricks) with Anne Merrow's upcoming The New Spinner's Guide to Plying video, which will be released June 1. Did you know that using weaving bobbins can be a great way to even out tension differences in your singles? Or that making a yarn that blooms beautifully can be as simple as a bit of purposeful under-plying? How about switching to a heavier spindle when plying spindle-spun yarn? Or using chain plying to preserve the color runs in your spinning fiber? Far from simply a utilitarian way to combine singles into a larger whole, plying can introduce new effects, provide strength and stability, or completely change the character of your yarn.
If you're new to plying, don't be afraid! If you can spin a singles, you can ply. And if you're an old pro, don't let yourself fall into a plying rut. Whatever your skill level and however you spin, meet plying each time with curiosity and purpose and your yarn will be the better for it.