Recently, I have found that a group of people have started knitting at our local library on Wed afternoons. This is wonderful for me for several reasons. The main one being that because I homeschool my kids, I can’t get to any of the other regular meetings or spinning groups. I happen to be stopping at the library at Wed at the correct time anyway as we are in between activities and picking up children. Also, at this time, my oldest can go to the children’s area with my youngest and color or read for the 1/2 hour I have free to socialize. What people don’t understand about homeschooling your kids, it’s not the kids that need the socialization…. it’s the parents! Anyway, I digress.
One of the women who comes is pretty interesting. She re purposes old sweaters. She pulls them apart, and then dyes the yarn, or plies the yarn or whatever is needed and then makes these amazing sweaters out of them. She does all of the plying for this on home made drop spindles and her lazy kate is a re purposed Beer box. I love it. Today she was chain plying on a drop spindle. It was probably one of the most amazing things I have seen in a while. Mind you this woman does not do any of the primary spinning. She has just begun to explore spinning wool into yarn. So I would not call her an expert spinner. What she is, is fearless. She figures out what she needs to do to accomplish what she wants and then does it. Watching her do this chain ply on a spindle, changed everything for me. I have chain plied… several times, on my wheels. It can be challenging. You get treadling too fast, you over ply… it becomes all squirmy and squiggly…not happy yarn. With a spindle you have the utmost control. You chain out about three chains and pull them taught and ply. Fantastic. I came straight home to try it. I had this single I had spun 2 years ago out of Yak/merino/silk top and it is just too fine for my liking. Every time I cast on with it, I cast it right back off and put it down. I have known that it needed to to chain plied from almost the moment I spun it.. I really did not want to hassle with it. I came home and grabbed my neglected bottom whorl spindle, cleared all the old stuff off of it, and began. This is the process I used.
There were a few issues with this process. The first being that while I had an hour at the time I was fiddling with this, I had way more yarn to be plied than I could ply in an hour. What to do, what to do…. This was my solution. It was not perfect or fool proof. But a clothespin to hold the twist and something to hold the chain open (I ended up using a water bottle not pictured here to hold the loop open) saved my life during the second issue. Plying off a center pull ball. If you have ever used a center pull ball of yarn off a ball winder you know what I mean…. I pulled out a huge snarled mess about halfway through and spent about two hours plying and un-snagging this mess. Without that clothespin, this whole process would have been sunk. However, I persisted and ended up with a beautifully cushy well plied yarn. I can see some of the chain joins, so obviously I will need to practice this method more, but I think I may be sold on chain plying on my spindle from now on.