Why Ply?

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Three swatches knitted in seed rib pattern using single, two-ply, and three-ply yarns

When you ply your spun singles do you prefer two-ply, three-ply, or four-ply yarns? Or perhaps you prefer to work with singles and skip the plying all together? In the Fall 2001 issue of Spin-Off Rita Buchanan shared that eighty-seven percent of spinners surveyed indicated that they created plied yarns. So, why do we ply? Plying increases the diameter of the yarn, which is great if you like worsted or bulky weight yarn but not a plus if you prefer sport or DK weight yarns. Singles are faster. You can use the yarn immediately—a definite bonus for those of us with a touch of impatience.


As a relatively new spinner, plying was not my first instinct. When I finally finished my first bobbin, I had already envisioned several projects for it. Then my mom asked how many plies I was planning on using. Rita shares eight reasons to ply your yarn. Let me share the three I find most persuasive with you.


Plying makes the yarn more manageable. This is especially important if you are going to manipulate the fibers after they are spun, such as for dyeing. One of the reasons I decided to learn to spin was to create my own yarn to dye. Plied yarns are less likely to felt when they are being handled during the dyeing process.


Plying makes the yarn more even. When your singles aren't as symmetrical in diameter as you would like, and my beginning bobbins certainly are not, plying multiple singles evens out the thick and thin sections of yarn. I love distinct stitch patterns and cables. Even yarns helps to enhance the sharpness of textured stitch patterns.


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Two-ply yarns. The yarn on the left used the two plies

to balance the thick and thin singles.

Plying allows you to combine fibers. Sure you can card multiple fibers together or purchase roving that combines multiple fibers such as merino and silk. But combining plies of different fibers creates a different feel and look. Currently I love the texture created by yarns combining merino and linen plies.


Maybe you ply because that is what you were taught, because it's tradition, because it is the look you like, or maybe you don't ply your yarn. Find out more reasons to ply as well as plying techniques and information on spinning singles with Spin-Off. Purchase the new 2001 and 2010 CD collections today.


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Yarn created with one ply of blue merino and one ply of purple

kid mohair

Best wishes,



P.S. I'd love to hear your thoughts on plying. Share your preference or opinions on the blog.

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