Sunday, September 05, 2010

Plying on a spindle

Eleanor isn't the only one who doesn't feel happy doing this! I suppose, if I am honest, I didn't at first, but I really did feel that if I was spinning on a spindle, I should be able to ply on one as well. After all, in the beginning I spindle spun for convenience when going away on holiday. So much easier just to take a spindle than a wheel.......

I think that some of the early instructions in books may be to blame for any discomfort. Doorways, hooks and so forth tended to loom large in plying explanations. Life for me became so much easier plying-wise when I was introduced to a nostepinne. Even though it took me several teachers to get me comfortable with winding the singles on to it!

A nostepinne is just a stick, but a smooth, tapered stick, ideally with a neat groove at the sharp end. You wind one end of your yarn around this groove, then take the single down the shaft until you are just above the handle section. Wind straight for a few turns, then at an angle, passing from wood (south) to wood (north), or below and above the wound yarn. As you do so, give the nostepinne a quarter turn in your hand. Keep on doing this until all is wound on - you will have a miniature version of a centre pull ball as wound on a machine knitting type ball winder. (You can do it that wsy if you have a big spindleful.)

Depending on the nature of your yarn, you can either take it off the nostepinne or leave it on but slide the cop nearer to the tip.** Take up the free end wound in the groove, and the other free outside end, and bring them together. Keeping them under as equal a tension as possible, attach by your method of choice to the spindle, and keeping the yarns slightly taut, spin anit-clockwise until you like the plying twist inserted. Wind on, repeat until finished. Keeping the yarns under slight but as equal as possible tension is important to get a nice ply - it can look "wrapped" if one is looser than the other.

Alternatively, you can go fancy, and buy a purpose built kate. The one I have is the Lizzie Kate from Greensleeves.

It works best of all with Greensleeves spindles, but others work too as long as the shafts (you can do up to 4-ply) fit the docking holes and the spindles are not too tall. Each single is threaded through first the lower and then the upper guide, attached to your plying spindle and away you go. Easier to get a better balanced ply, but not as portable.

I recently realised the potential of another plying method; cheap, easily available if you have forgotten your nostepinne, portable and light. Actually, too light, so small stones or similar as ballast are helpful!

Yup, indulge in a couple of lattes to go, wash and dry plastic containers well, spin two cops of singles, pop into containers, pulling the end out through the hole in the lid and off you go as before. I'm quite proud of this one.......

I should mention the Andean plying methods. One, for small amounts of yarn, around the hand - I do this when appropriate, and it is a good method. The other Andean method is to take two spindlesworth of yarn, wind both ends together into one ball and then play the pair out to ply. I have done it this way, and can quite see that it is very suitable for a particular type of yarn and in particular circumstances - if you are spinning and plying on the move (literally) it is supremely sensible. But personally, I don't like it (see "wrapping", above - much more prone to it) and would only use it if all else failed.

But then, you pays your money and you takes your choice - we're all different!

Before I leave spindle spinning.....

This week arrived the new edition of the catalogue of a Famous Fibre Supplier. Being me, I looked for spindles.

Three. A pear tahkli, ok. A low whorl drop spindle - (the spinning action is slower than that of the high whorl and produces a thicker yarn.) A High whorl drop spindle - (the spinning action is faster than that of the low whorl and produces a thinner, finer yarn.)

That's it. Boom.


OK, now I am off to sample the Poll Dorset fleece just washed and dried on, guess what, a spindle. Predictable, or what?

.** Never, ever remove a ball from a nostepinne if it is a very fine yarn or especially, silk. At least not without inserting some card, or a pencil or something first. It will collapse and tangle irretrievably. Ask me how I know.

No, it won't work out ok just this once. Not even if the yarn has been sitting on the nostepinne for ages and ages.

Ask me how I know again. And again.........


Charlene Anderson said...

I learned the same lesson, with some fine silk. It's always good to get a reminder, as there is the tendency to think you can outsmart the yarn. No, you can't. Ask me how I know.

Eleanor said...

Brilliant post Carol....and yes, I have been trying to take the yarn off the nostepine, silly me I didn't think about leaving it on. Starts off ok Ha Ha then gradually descends into the above-mentioned tangle!I will start afresh, armed with your advice. Eleanor x