party yarn! chain ply on left, two-ply on right

Finishing my first handspun yarn. Beginner Plying!

Plying is certainly one of those things that is much easier to understand when you try it. Right after I finished spinning my first handspun, I set about learning to ply.

Plying has turned my random singles into…. *drumroll*…

party yarn! chain ply on left, two-ply on right
party yarn! chain ply on left, two-ply on right


I can’t believe how lovely and FUN this yarn is. I don’t have anything like it in my stash. I’ve never seen arty handspun yarn in person. I know the variety of sizes and thicknesses is due to my lack of control, but this stuff came out so fun. If this is my mistake pancake, then more please!

  • The chain ply on the left kept the colours together so it’s sort of a gradient.
  • The two ply has a fun marled effect which is very random. I like when there are two contrasting thicknesses.

Sweet Georgia yarns has some great ideas for spinning gradient yarns based on how you pull apart your combed top braid.

Why ply?

As I learned from Knitters Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes, the more plies you add, the harder-wearing the yarn will be. A Singles yarn, unplied will tend to bias as there is no other ply to balance the twist.

Clara explained that a two ply yarn is actually “oblong, not round”. The two plies rotate like a propeller. A two ply yarn is good for lace to hold open holes.Β  A three ply is more round. Clara explains that it’s like adding a third leg to a stool and the yarn is more stable. A fourth ply offers good stitch definition, but the fourth ply will “stick out” as she point out.

Plies of yarn

I got to try both two ply and three ply! The Navaho or chain ply makes a 3 ply yarn. For these I’m talking about the actual number of plies, not the crazy “N ply” yarn weight system which makes absolutely no sense.

A two ply yarn

I thought that Abby’s Franqumont’s spinning video didn’t cover plying in much detail. She talks about plying in the last 10 mins of the class, where she spent a good few mins explaining how to roll a yarn ball. But, it’s only a 70 min video. The Craftsy course on Spindling filled in some of the gaps about plying.

I probably should have made a lazy kate like in the Craftsy video. But instead, I just wound the two sets of wool onto rolled up magazines and let them roll around on the floor and spun it onto my spindle. This really doesn’t seem like an ideal solution. Probably should have made balls like Abby showed!

But I got somewhere. And I loved the marled effect of the random thickness and colours. I’m pretty sure this is highly pool resistant.

Navaho or chain plying

After my first two weeks of spinning, I had divided the combed top into two batches, but I couldn’t get near a scale, so I was just purely guessing if I was half way through. After I finished spinning it was clear the second batch had more yarn.

This meant when I finished plying two together, I had a bunch leftover. So I had to decide between unwinding it all, weighing it, then dividing it. Or learning Navaho (chain) plying. I chose to learn a new technique!

Navaho or chain plying is much easier to understand when you try it. This short video was immensely helpful.

before washing
before washing it was a little wild

Setting the twist

After both yarns were plied, I wound them up using a swift into two loops. But I didn’t measure how big the swift is. I might get a noddy noddy one day. Looks like a handy tool. Since, right now, I have no idea how much yarn I have from a 100g bag of wool.

Before I washed the loops of new yarn, the two ply seemed “balanced”, meaning it hung in an open loop. The chain-plied loop sort of twisted on itself.

I tried a little “thwapping” on the more tight 3 ply. And I also put both loops over my arms and pulled on them a bit.

Now, to figure out what to make with this yarn

This guide on Three Ravens has many hand-spun pattern ideas. There are also two handy Ravelry search links:

I like these patterns:

  • Bulky Moebius CowlΒ  Seems like it would be challenging to learn the cast on, which would make it fun.
  • I probably don’t have enough yarn for this, but how lovely, a hoodie/cowl, with super thick yarn.
  • My yarn is probably too thick for these Knitty patterns: Kink and Purlieu, but they are nice. And maybe some ideas for future handspun. The Purlieu yarn is has a 1- to 4-inch-long fluffy section every 6 to 8 inches.

Of course, I actually have no idea how much yarn I have so it’s going to be an adventure!

7 thoughts on “Finishing my first handspun yarn. Beginner Plying!”

    1. Aww thanks! I’ve started on the second handspun to try and learn the long draw/woolen technique. Whoah it’s ugly! I think the hand dyed stuff added loads of magic πŸ˜‰

  1. That is one fine looking first handspun yarn you have there! Definitely a party! This is a really great post that I think will encourage a lot of other new spinners to just TRY stuff. πŸ™‚

  2. I loved reading your journey on learning to spin in the previous posts and this is quite an informative post too! If you ever want to go in depth into plying I would recommend The Gentle Art of Plying DVD, she uses a wheel but the tips she gives you is easily adaptable onto a spindle if you are willing to put in the effort.

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