Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

By The Fibreside

Knitting and spinning on the Sunshine Coast of BC

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Extreme plying

August is over, which means that my month off of homework is also over, but I figured I’d give myself Labour Day, and finish up the Frazzlebatt 3-ply.

This is how it started: 3 50-gram batts, two in blue-ish, one in black-ish.
This is how it started: 3 50-gram batts, two in blue-ish, one in black-ish.

I started spinning these on Aug. 17, and finished spinning the final singles on Sunday, so today it was time to ply.

Math done, bobbins at the ready.
Math done, bobbins at the ready.

I guessed the singles TPI at 7.5, so when I did my math, it said to do three treadles for a four-inch ply drafting length. I taped out four inches on my lap cloth, and got started.

Plying is one of those things in spinning. You don’t think it should take as long as it actually does. I mean, you’ve already done the hard part, right? The spinning, making sure your singles are nice and even and with good twist. Plying is just easy, treadle and feed, treadle and feed, and that’s it. Right?

At some point, you stretch out your neck and wonder, “How long have I been here? Why aren’t those bobbins empty yet? Good heavens, why is this taking so long?” But you keep going.

Then you reach this point.
Then you reach this point.

This point, after you’ve been plying for two hours straight, after you’ve had to call your fiance to kill a couple of bugs and open up your protein bar snack because you don’t want to let go with the hand that’s holding back the twist. This is the point where you start wondering, “Am I going to run out of singles first, or bobbin to ply on? Also, how much longer is this going to take? What should I do if I run out of singles first? Should I make an Andean bracelet and keep going until I really run out of blue, or just stop and figure out something else to do with the remaining singles? What if I run out of bobbin first? Could I use a spindle to do the rest, so I won’t have to break the yarn? Also, could I maybe have done this differently, because my finger really hurts…”

I figured out a different way after this, so I saved my finger, at least.
I figured out a different way after this, so I saved my finger, at least.

As it turned out, I did run out of one singles before I ran out of room on the plying bobbin, but it was a near run thing. At that point, I’d been plying for three hours, so I left the remaining singles. I have an idea to just two-ply them, as I signed up for a mini-sock-swap, and I think they’ll be a perfect mini-skein to send. You know, once I figure out new plying math for a two-ply with singles at 7.5 tpi (Level 3 is totally infecting my spinning, and that is not a bad thing).

That is a pretty full bobbin going on there...
That is a pretty full bobbin going on there…

Alastair has a Freedom Flyer, which means he’s got the jumbo bobbins, which is great, because you can fit a lot on them, and come out with fairly substantial skeins. I’ve only ever filled a bobbin past where I should have once (click to see, if you’re interested), so even though I was starting to get a little anxious about how much space was left, I knew I could still fit quite a bit on. But after three hours, I just wanted to get up and move around, so that’s what I did, and then got out the niddy noddy.

194 wraps in this skein.
194 wraps in this skein.

I’ve learned my lesson not to measure and declare yardage before washing, but that’s a pretty good amount of yarn. And not only that, but it’s almost the weight and colour that I’d envisioned.

3-ply, two bluish one blackish, semi-worsted (worsted spin from carded prep).
3-ply, two bluish one blackish, semi-worsted (worsted spin from carded prep).

But, there’s one final test… All that spinning, all that plying, all that math. One final test.

Will it balance?
Will it balance?

If I’m right about the singles TPI, then it will. IF I’m right.

We'll find out...
We’ll find out…

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