Her Handspun Habit: Drop-Spindle Plying for Larger Hanks

Last week, while plying on my e-spinner, I pondered a spindle-spinning myth in need of debunking. The misconception is that drop-spindle plying somehow limits the size of your resulting hank. In my opinion, it doesn’t—or at least no more so than the size of your bobbin (affiliate link) limits the size of your skein when plying on a wheel. Some of my largest skeins of yarn started out on multiple spindles (affiliate link).

I’m not sure where that myth began. Spindle users tend to spin on several different spindles when working on one project, which makes it easier to transport, but once the singles are spun, how does one go about connecting all of the individual cops into one large hank? Here’s my method for joining cops on a spindle (hint: the secret is in the twist).

drop-spindle plying

Debbie makes hefty handspun hanks plied on a spindle.

Tips for Drop-Spindle Joining

1. Make sure all ends have fuzzy, unspun tips. If necessary, untwist the ends and lightly tease them open.

2. Hold the new single over the working yarn, overlapping the 2 yarns about ¼ inch to ½ inch. At the same time, pinch off the ply twist with your working hand. Slowly begin to spin in the ply direction, but wait before releasing the accumulated twist energy.

3. I like to park the spindle between my knees for the next 2 steps. Using both hands, release the stored twist while holding the new single at a 45-degree angle, which helps it catch onto the working yarn. (But don’t let go of the two yarns yet!)

4. Next, still using both hands, gently pull on the overlapped yarns. The wool fibers will all grab onto each other and the two singles will nestle into place.

5. Test your new join with a light tug.

drop-spindle plying

Having the right spindle for the job makes drop-spindle plying a breeze.

You may be asking, “How does a person ply an entire 4-ounce braid of fiber onto just 1 spindle?” This is where having the right tool for the job comes into play: Use a plying spindle. A top-whorl spindle with a large-sized whorl and an extra-long shaft makes fitting an entire braid of plied yarn onto 1 spindle no problem (unless it’s an extra-bulky-weight yarn, but that’s a subject for another blog post). Plus, I find that drop-spindle plying with a slightly heavier, long-shaft spindle helps me maintain a more consistent twist angle.

Pretty cool, no?

Here’s to larger hanks of handspun!

Featured Image: Drop-spindle plying doesn’t have to yield skimpy skeins. Use these tips to make hefty hanks. Photos by Deborah Held.

Respect the power of the spindle!

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