Late Night Plying
Many are the posts and pins about plying from a center pull ball, though most of these are discussing plying using a wheel. Many are the instructions for plying using two balls and things like flower pots for the drop spindle. This latter is where I started when I was plying with a single and some thread. It worked, but you had to pretty much ply everything at once and it could be tricksy. Owning a ball winder I decided the center pull ball was a great next step in plying my handspun singles. Both plies coming from the same ball should mean that things would even out a bit and that the color would end up fairly uniform throughout. Unfortunately you sort of need one hand to control the ball, one hand to spin the spindle and one hand to feed the singles, which is one more hand than I have. This would be fabulous for wheel plying since you can use your feet to spin the wheel, but my feet while monkey like in their ability to open doors and pick things up off the floor can’t do any of the three required tasks for centerpull ball plying on a spindle. Tangles galore. Half my time was spent trying to untangle enough to ply a bit before stopping to untangle yet more. Sometimes it even got knotted. Ugh. In order to finish my plying I had to enlist my husband, which was not his favorite thing.
In an effort to find the mysterious trick to making this work I turned again to Youtube. There I found Luca Costigliolo, an Italian spindler with many useful videos on spinning basics. He seems very down to earth with practical no frills methods and tools. Do I envy him his 3 interchangeable spindles, with their simplistic versatility? Absolutely. Check him out. Any way, one of his videos was on spinning from a plying ball. Another was on how to wind a plying ball, where all of your singles feed from the same source to the spindle for plying. This seemed like an obvious and practical option, which would allow for using as many plies as one likes with ease. Having now tried this out on a few recently spun skeins I can tell you it is awesome. The plying ball method means you now have a spindle and a ball of yarn to carry, no pots or multiple balls. Time for dinner? Just wind the ball and the spindle tightly and set them next to each other and pick it up again later. No more getting stuck with a backlog of unplied singles because you are waiting for a large chunk of time at home when you can ply an entire skein. You can ply anywhere you can spin, even walking. Simplicity for the win.
In other news, tonight I will go to my first gathering of spinners (apart from Angel’s Wilderness Woolery). During a recent heritage festival I encountered several spinners from a group that meets somewhat locally and was invited to their monthly meeting. As far as I can tell they are all wheel spinners, but spinners are spinners and they seem like they are skilled and knowledgeable and would be an excellent resource and crafty social connection. Wish me luck.