I was my FIRST TIME ever attempting a 3 ply. I weighed and divided up the braid of dyed wool. I spun one bobbin full and another. By the time I got to the 3rd bobbin, I spun for a while and realized that I had spun the 2nd bobbin the wrong way! I sought advice on Ravelry to unwinding and re-winding the singles. It seemed like an impossible task. Perhaps I’d just chain ply it, and forget the jumbled colour effect I was going for.
I went to my guild meeting, and told them my sad story. Immediately several people said: “Go ahead and ply it!” Apparently, sometimes people do this *on purpose*.
Yes, and it’s called Opposing Ply yarn. The singles twist in yarns generally relax when you ply them. If you have an opposing ply, then it gets added twist when you ply it. I’ve made a diagram to illustrate.
When I plied it, I could see indeed, the opposing ply was pulled tighter, and the two others sort of popped out.
Benefits of opposing ply yarn
In “The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs“, Sarah Anderson devoted a whole chapter to the technique. In her tests, the opposing ply added strength to sock yarn. The opposing ply added strength and durability and the two relaxed plies ensured the sock fabric was still soft and cushy. WOW! You can also use the technique to add elasticity to yarn because this opposing ply get “buried” in the finished yarn. This ply added energy into the yarn. She goes into way more detail of other ways you can use this technique. Pure genius.
Before washing, I don’t think I could tell what the difference was.
As soon as I added it to water it SPROING up into wee little curls.
I didn’t add weight to it when I dried it.
But it settled into a nice soft yarn with an interesting texture. I ended up using it in a garter stitch project, so I don’t think I really showed the yarn off to its potential. However, it’s always amazing to learn that something you thought was a mistake actually is a practiced and well known technique. 🙂
Also for more Sarah Anderson awesomeness, I recommend the video Building Blocks of Spinning on Interweave.