Spinning Consistent Singles Yarns

Before I became a spinner, singles yarns were one of my favorite yarns to knit with. When I became a spinner, I tried to replicate these millspun yarns. Eventually, I co-wrote a couple of articles with Carol Huebscher Rhoades about spinning single-ply yarns and replicating millspun yarns for Spin Off. I am not alone in my passion for singles! Recently, fellow single ply enthusiast Jillian Moreno paid a visit to the Spin Off studios to spread the love of singles.

Jillian says that the trick to spinning singles yarns is to be consistent, especially when it comes to grist or density. Density refers to how much fiber is spun into a yarn for a given length. The term “grist” can confuse a lot of spinners, but it might be more familiar as “ypp,” or yards per a pound. Keeping this measurement constant will help a lot in creating evenly spun singles. Different densities can create very different yarns—even if their wraps per an inch are the same.

Some of Jillian Moreno’s tips on spinning consistent singles:

singles yarns

The trick to smooth singles yarn is to keep your drafting length and speed consistent. Photo by George Boe

1. Keep moving your hands the same distance while you’re drafting.

Whether you’re spinning worsted or woolen, radical shifts in drafting distance will make for thick-and-thin yarns instead of uniformly spun single ply yarns. These thick-and-thin spots can really show in singles.

singles yarns

Singles yarns require less twist such as this example by Elizabeth Prose. Photo by Joe Coca

2. Singles require less twist than plied yarns.

Adjust your wheel take-up speed so that the yarn feeds onto your bobbin a little faster than for singles to be plied, but not too fast.

singles yarns

An assortment of whorls. Photo courtesy of Schacht Spindle Co

3. Use a larger whorl and slow down your treadling speed.

These adjustments should be subtle, but making them will lead to consistent, evenly spun singles. Whether your fibers are short or long, you use top or roving, or you draft worsted or woolen, spinning singles may take some initial adjustments and a bit of added concentration, but the results are worth the effort.

Happy Spinning!

P.S. Wondering about the difference between single, singles, and single ply? This is a subject of much discussion; Jillian explains that a “single” is one strand of yarn that will be plied, while a “singles” is a yarn that stands alone without plying. Many spinners feel that “single ply” is a contradiction because, the yarn being twisted in only one direction, plying doesn’t come into it at all. Still, some spinners find the idea easier to grasp when written that way. And don’t get us started on the debate on whether “singles” is singular or plural! Whatever you call them, these are delightful yarns.

Featured Image: Singles yarn spun by Elizabeth Prose. Photo by George Boe

Posted August 3, 2016. Updated February 12, 2019.

Spin for singles!!


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