Ply on the Fly



At last Saturday's guild meeting, I sat next to a woman that was using the Play on the Fly technique with her spindle.  She remarked that this was the first time she'd seen me bring a wheel to the meeting.  I usually bring a spindle. So much easier.  The timing was great though as I had been thinking about playing with that technique and asked her to show me what she was doing.  It has been a couple years since I was introduced to it and never actually got a comfortable rhythm using it.  Over the week, I've experimented.  I now feel comfortable using it. 

My thoughts are this..

It is great for sampling a three ply yarn.  If you use an Andean ply or chain ply for your three ply, this is another option.  Because your spindle size limits the amount of yarn that you can produce for one skein (or one cop), it isn't particularly good for my use.  I spindle to make enough yarn for a project.  I want good size skeins.  If I make 3 cops and ply them together, I can produce a 200 yd., 3 ply skein. Using this technique, I'd have 3 skeins of about 67 yds.  Something to consider when you are making a project.  How many joins do you want to deal with.  I played mostly with silk and if you knit with silk, you already know that it really requires a Russian or sewn join.  That alone would make my decision.

I'll use this, as I said, when I want a fast three ply sample.  Give it a try. There are several good You Tube tutorials.




Last winter, when I was packing up my booth at the NETA SPA, I found a beautiful mini batt sitting brightly on my work table.  It was a sweet gift from Josette of Enchanted Knoll Farm.  I can't tell you how happy that thoughtful little gift made me.  I carried the batt around in my project bag for a few weeks before deciding how I would spin it.  

I decided to use my Modular Spindle (Ledbetter, of course) and make a single, spinning the colors in sequence.  As it was a very little batt, under an ounce, I spun two more cops of a beautifil soft BFL / Silk blend from my stash.  


That spindle is very special to me.  Ken made it from my own spauted maple, cut and milled at home.  I've had that wood drying for over ten years.



The three singles were wound together into a plying ball to keep the tension equal.  

Plying ball

I love the way a plying ball looks..all the singles so orderly.


It was a cold day.  The idea of sitting at my wheel in the sunny window was too good to pass up.  Wheel plied.. on my Dixon!


It ended up to be 180 yds. of a 3 ply dk wt yarn.  Now, what to do with it?

Ten Minutes (for Tuesday)

You've seen them before.  The first is the spindle spun that I posted earlier this week winding onto a felted ball.  After checking my records, I found that it was the last of the llama and silk I bought from Barnswallow Farm.  It was spun on one of my beautiful Ledbetter spindles and plied on the same one.  This was truly a take with project, carried around in my knitting bag and spun bits at a time.  I plied it while taking breaks from my knitting this week. The 200 yd. skein brings the total yardage of this yarn to 640 yd.  That should be plenty for a little shawl.


alpaca / silk
total yardage: 640 yd. (approx. 2560 yd/lb.)
spindle spun : Ledbetter and Hardy spindles

The second project (my carded Shetland) has been spun in blocks of time that are for the most part hours, not minutes.  However, this week I am spinning in little bits of time, keeping my wheel handy so that I can keep this project going.  I spun almost another bobbin last Saturday at my friend Sue's end of the month Spin In.  Here's what is in the drawer so far, not including an almost full bobbin still on the wheel.  As soon as it's full, I'll ply a skein.  I'm still thinking that it will be a 3 ply yarn.


With six more weeks of winter predicted to the south (ground hogs in the north wouldn't think of showing their faces yet), there should be plenty of spinning time in my future.

making yogurt, one more thing

... and the Friday Project Round-up

brr-rr......! The wind is howling out there.  It doesn't make me want to do outdoor things, that's for sure.  What a miserable day to try to move tropical plants.  It's the kind of day when we ask ourselves why this business?  I tried to set us up for the day with a hot breakfast of mixed grains, oatmeal and chopped apples cooked with cinnamon, topped with last night's fresh yogurt.   


Every time I make yogurt I remind myself that there is one more thing I want to tell you about making yogurt.  Here goes.  Your starter is paramount.  Protect it.  Without some good yogurt put away, it is difficult to make a good next batch.  There's nothing magic about it.  Before I start eating a new batch, I fill a small glass jar with my fresh yogurt.  It gets stored away in the refrigerator.  The second thing I need to say about this is that I actually have two little jars stored.  One from each of the last two batches of yogurt I've made.  Call it insurance.  (This means that the first time, you will have to put away two little jars.) When I get ready to make a batch of yogurt, I take the oldest jar out for my starter.  For me, this means that it is probably about 1 1/2 weeks old.  However, There have been times when I've been away and my starter has waited for up to three months.  If the glass jars are full and capped, it probably will still work.  So, that's it.  Easy! 

The other thing I've been thinking about is a Friday posting regimen.  I want to make it easier for me to figure out what to post.  I'm thinking that Friday is a perfect day for the week's project round-up, a show of what I've been working on. 

Spindling: The cops I showed you earlier in the week turned into 200 yd. of a two ply lace wt.  It is soaking now. 


Knitting:  I've wanted to knit Anne Hanson's Rivolo scarf.  It looked like perfect TV knitting, with only a small repeat of 9 sts. and 8 rows.  This is a project I can carry to meetings and enjoy while my aattention is divided.  I'd also recommend it to anyone thinking that lace is difficult.  Sweet and easy.  I'm knitting it in Ball and Skein's Elise, the Mist color-way.  Thanks, Anne for another enjoyable knit. 


Spinning:  I've got a lot of that lovely carded merino done, but nothing since last Sunday.  Tomorrow. 

Ten Minutes (for Tuesday)

Detail of yarn ball

One of the first things I do to prepare for a spinning workshop, retreat or other such meetup, is to gather up all of my partially filled bobbins and decide which ones I can empty.  Running out of bobbin space when you're away from home is counterproductive, right?  This also gives me the opportunity to see what projects I've got on hold, abandoned, or have finished and left the ends hanging.  This would be a good routine to program as once a month housekeeping, say before the spinning group meets.  In addition to the bobbins, I decide which of my spindles are coming along and again, what needs to be wound off.  Those cops (not all were large enough to be considered finished) were added to the drawer where the cops of spindled yarn are kept while more accumulate.  I was surprised to see how many were in there. I spindle quite a lot, a bit here and there.  Those minutes had really added up.  Time to get some plied. I decided to set up my Spindler's Kate on a corner of my desk, thinking that I'd use some of those lost minutes waiting on phone calls, etc. to wind off two strand balls in preparation for plying. 


That's a bit of cashmere and silk.  Somewhere in my stash are a skein or two already to go.  This will be a nice addition to the yardage.  


winding down

There is something about September.  I'd like to say that, after the summer, it is a more relaxed time.  That's probably not really true.  Depending on where you are, there is still much to harvest, made even more urgent by the chill of the nights and the knowing that the time left grows short. It's a gardener's roulette, impossible to predict which night will end the game.  If it were August, I'd be covering my beds on nights like these.  Seemingly endless tarps, dragged on at night, and off each morning when the sun reaches the point above the trees where the plants will cook under the plastic. By this time in September, I stop doing that.  Knowing that the end is in sight, somehow takes the pressure off.  it will be, what it will.  It is beyond my control.  I didn't always feel that way.  Ahead, there's the task of putting the summer's work to bed.  But now, I take what I can of what remains. (I feel a bit differently about the apples, they are just starting, another story.) 

C and I agreed that Sunday, we would finally take the VW somewhere and do nothing.  Wonderful!  I packed cheese and bread, almonds, cider and some rosemary crusted ham in a cooler.  Used to be, I'd have packed a bottle of wine.  I threw some walking shoes, books, my knitting and a spindle into a bag.  All for an afternoon, imagine.  I figure that covered all possibilities, any whim.  We headed for no place in particular, someplace out of the way, with as few people as possible and a bit of a beach.  We'd know when we got there.  We did.



Got my ten minutes in.  I've been lax with my spindling.  Funny how sometimes you don't know how much you miss doing something until you do it.


spindled silk

1 = 200

This dismal weather has affected the quality and color of my pictures.  I need some good, dry, natural light.  Every available horizontal flat surface is presently in use.  There are no set-ups, only hand held shots.  These taken at 1/6 sec.  The Rhinebeck sweater will have to wait for the weekend.  The spindled silk, well.. we'll make pretend the color is right.  In real life it is a lovely soft pastel of peach and olive.  Very light.  The spinning isn't as even as I'd like, but given the conditions, I'm pleased.   This was my first project spindling silk from the fold and it was a carry around, 10 minutes a day, or whenever project, so the conditions where more or less all over the place.  Restaurants, nursing home, TV, meetings, doctor's offices, you get the picture.  I kept the spindle in my bag and worked when I could.  When you see the skein it looks pretty even.  Close up, you can see the variation.


one ounce 100% silk
200 yds. 
spindle: Forrester "Granny" style
purchased from: Little Barn


spindle plying.. part 3


Last evening, I was going through Bloglines and ended up on Ask the Bellweather.  Wouldn't you know it, two posts ago Amelia wrote a very interesting post on Plying with a Spindle.  Check it out.  The post links to an article in Fiber Femmes written by Abby Franquemont, on Plying with a Spindle.    Read that one too.  The similarities are there, talk of portability, love of the spindle.   Each method produces a spindle plied yarn, each slightly different. 

Laurie mentioned in the comments, that she'd never again spindle without a straw.  That's the trick.  I collect straws wherever I can.  My spindles are a testiment to where I've stopped for coffee.  Every spindle is decked out with an unsightly plastic straw prior to spinning the singles.  If you've noticed a bit of red or green or pink and orange striped plastic sticking out from my cops, that's the plastic straw.  When I find a clear one, I hang on to it.  So much nicer.  The amount that a straw would increase the spindle weight is unimportant.  In any case, after winding on a bit of yarn, you'll have done the same thing.  No worries there.  The purpose of the straw is three fold.  It enables the cop to slide off the spindle more easily and without tangling on the way.  It keeps the center from collapsing.  It allows me to put the cop onto a spindler's or lazy kate for plying.  I use the same spindle to spin all of the yarn. 


Yards: 158    2 ply
Weight: 1 oz.
Fiber from a sample in our SOAR gift bag. Superwash merino in the Stained Glass colorway.
Spindle: Ken Ledbetter