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The Ply’s the Thing

December 24, 2004

In response to Susan’s question in the comments, I thought I’d try to explain the plying disc a little better. I’ve been starting to branch out into multi-ply yarns. The more plies there are, the more challenging it is to keep an even tension. Uneven tension can really mess with the consistency of the final yarn. Awhile back, I read somewhere (I believe in Diane Varney’s, “Spinning Designer Yarns”) that using a plying disc can be helpful, and that the plastic liner from a spice jar works really well. Here’s mine (cannibalized from my allspice jar):

I’ve been experimenting with and without the disc, and particuarly at lace weight, I find the disc useful in keeping the plies seperated and the tension even. Using it is a teeny bit awkward at first, but it gets comfortable quickly. First, I thread the plies through the holes:

Next, I slide the disc down a bit and attach the plies to leader. I have a doubled leader thread with a knot tied in the end, which forms a loop. I thread my plies through the loop (like through the eye of a needle), double the yarn back on itself for a few inches, and I’m ready to go:

To ply, I position the fingers of my left hand in bewteen the plies, and my hand bewteen the spinning wheel and the disc. I use the fingers of my right hand to keep the plies seperated behind the plying disc, and to feed the yarn in from the lazy kate. Here’s how it looks. I apologize for the blurry photo, but I think you can still make it out alright:


As the yarn takes up on the bobbin, I use my left hand to slide the disc back. You can get a nice rhythm going on, and it’s very relaxing. I also like the plying disc because I can actually get up from my wheel if I need to without the plies turning into a tangled mess. That’s all there is to it. I hope that’s a little clearer explanation!

  1. December 24, 2004 6:40 pm

    Hah, I should be that coordinated! If I ever get up the nerve to do 3 ply I’ll have to try it.

  2. December 25, 2004 6:30 am

    Wow, great instructions with pics even! Thank you, thank you! I might just try it today before folks start coming over for Christmas day doings.

  3. sam permalink
    December 25, 2004 10:18 am

    Oh, good! I’m glad it was helpful, Susan. I’ll be curious to hear how it turns out for you!

  4. sam permalink
    December 25, 2004 10:20 am

    Um, Ms. Fiddletwist, I’m thinking that, since you can fiddle, you’re already twelve times more coordinated than I’ll ever be on my best day. 😉

  5. vanessa permalink
    December 27, 2004 4:16 am

    man, those are some teeny tiny plies!

  6. December 30, 2004 5:18 am

    I was hoping there’d be an explanation – its just what I supposed but your photos and text definitely helps me understand how I can use this myself. Thanks!!

  7. sam permalink
    January 1, 2005 1:00 pm

    I’m glad you found it helpful, Jenanne – it’s nice to know! 🙂

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