dyeing, plying, and thwacking (yarn play)

When I first started spinning, ‘lo these three months ago, I thought that I’d dislike plying as being too tedious, too boring, and not particularly necessary as I like working with singles.  But, then I decided that plying was part of my learning-to-spin process, and proceeded to ply my second skein of handspun, which was spun from a natural cream Corriedale top.  To better see the twist for my first plying job I lightly dyed the first ply with coffee: using vinegar for the mordant.  I  only let it soak for 15 minutes as I was looking for a fairly pale dye.  The color of a foamy cappuccino worked fine.

Cappuccino: first plied hanspun (Corriedale 2-ply)

Once the dyed skein was dry I wound the natural and the dyed singles together into a tight plying ball and started spinning them together.  It didn’t take too long to spin up – the finished two-ply is just 112 yards,  I quickly skeined my first plied yarn and soaked it to set the twist, after which came my favorite part – the thwacking.  Holding the wet skein by one end and thwacking it against the edge of the counter, shift your hold along the skein and continue around.  It seems to be when the yarn comes into its own – with the added benefit that it also gets rid of a lot of the water.

The downside of plying is that you’re spinning at least twice the yardage of the final skein, but the end result is well worth the effort.  And then there’s all the fun with different colored fibers, or hand-dyed or painted fibers.  I think it’s fairly certain that I’ll be adventuring into plying more often than I’d originally thought.


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