February 23, 2015

Nifty n-ply tool

I started drop spindle spinning about a month ago and I love it. Then I discovered chain plying on the fly and now I can't stop spinning. I like alternating spinning and plying and in the end I have an  plied yarn, no more steps to take (apart maybe from joining smaller balls to create one larger skein). There are a lot of videos on the internet showing ply on the fly with a spindle.

The drawback of chain plying on the fly is how to keep the yarn loop of the last made chain open. For this I came up with the "nifty n-ply tool" (chain plying is also known as n-plying, where the n stands for Navajo, I think "nifty n-ply tool" has a nice ring to it).

How to make the tool

To make the tool all you need is a juice box or milk carton. You could use some other sturdy paper too, but I like the juice box carton because of the smooth surface. It keeps the yarn from catching on it. Also it is sturdy and cheap, it is easy to make a new tool.

The size of the tool will depend on the yarn you want to make, a thicker yarn will require a larger tool. There is no need to be super precise when making the tool, I just cut it out without using a template, but here I will give you a template of the overall shape:



The gray part should be cut out, I make it tapered so the yarn does not slip out easily. Fold over the dotted line.

How to use the tool

Make your first chain ply loop as usual, but before plying hook the tool into the chain like this:


Then hold the tool and the yarn and ply (I find the tool also helps keeping an even tension on the three strands). After you are done plying the first chain, wind the yarn onto your spindle and in the end you can wind the remaining single at least one time around the tool to secure the tool in place while you spin the next length of single:


After every length of singles I keep winding one time around the tool so it helps me count how many lengths I have done, but that is just a personal trick and not necessary.

When you made a single long enough for the next chain plying step, unwind the single from the spindle until you come to the tool, then unwind a little more and secure the yarn. I personally wind the single around my index and middle fingers because I find it easy to feed the yarn into the new loop this way. Now you can use the tool to make the next chain. I could try to explain this in words, but that is quite hard and I think this picture shows it (although making a good picture was also hard, I've tried to draw in the missing hand feeding the single and holding the fiber). The tool keeps the loop open and the folded over piece makes sure you can make your new loop smoothly:


Once your loop is as long as you want it to be, unhook the tool from the old chain loop and insert it again at the top of the new loop as before. Continue chain plying in this way.

UPDATE: Alternative tool from plastic floss bobbin

In most craft store you can find cheap plastic bobbins for embroidery floss. I made a tool out of these as well, which is sturdier than the tool above. Just cut the tool out according to the template below. You won't have the "fold over" part, but instead you can use the hole to assist you with threading the single through the loop. I actually prefer this plastic tool to the tool above.


1 comment :

  1. I know this post is a few months old, but I would really like to see this "in action". I also love to Ply-on-the-Fly and have trouble with the yarn slipping on the spindle when I'm plying, even though it does have a notch. Thanks for your time!

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