Skip to content

Let’s Hang On!

Sometimes I have great success plying from a center pull ball and sometimes I wind up with a tangled mess. I’ve heard that letting the singles relax before winding them onto the ball winder can help but I’m usually not patient enough to wait at that point. So, I was thrilled when Laura shared a tip that she had read on Spinning Spider Jenny’s blog.

Jenny’s method, which comes from her good friend Rita Buchanan, involved a flower pot and a felted ball. Laura’s recap of the technique was a little simpler. In her words, “You take the inner strand and the outer strand which you will ply together. Hold them together and make a ball of yarn with the entire bit so that you have a 2-strand ball of yarn, just not plied and twisted together. THEN, when you now have this new ball of yarn, which is in a ball like wound around a felt ball or something like that…. THEN you start from the outside, which is supposedly the center point of the original center pull ball and is just the loop/bent piece and should be on the outside of the new ball, that’s what you start plying with. It’s already all there held together, no kinks that can’t be worked out as you go, no clumps.”

I tried it Laura’s way on Monday night and it worked like a charm. No kinks, no tangled mess, no waste! Woo and also Hoo. I did have one issue, though. Sometimes when I’m plying, my singles either break because they are over spun or fall apart because they are under spun. When I’m plying with regular ole wool I just spit splice the ends together. However, that doesn’t work with super wash and I’ve had to tie the ends together. Is there a better way to handle this situation? Other than spinning singles that don’t break or fall apart, that is? I’d appreciate any advice you have on this.


Joining problems aside, I wound up with two skeins (260 yards each) of this beautiful superwash from Crown Mountain Farms in the colorway “Let’s Hang On.”

I love it! The colors, the barber poley-ness of the whole thing makes me happy.

And happy is good.

This Post Has 47 Comments

  1. your yarn looks lovely! thanks for the tip. I am so new to spinning I barely know what it-all means, but I bookmark…
    by the way- knots are good enough for Noro the giant, so………

  2. your yarn looks lovely! thanks for the tip. I am so new to spinning I barely know what it-all means, but I bookmark…
    by the way- knots are good enough for Noro the giant, so………

  3. Beautiful yarn! I too have had center pull plying issues. And what I’ve found out is it has a lot to do with the wobble of the ball winder. Winding onto a ball winder takes as much technique as spinning in the first place. The blue plastic ball winders have a lot of wobble (they weren’t designed for plying but for winding finished yarn). I finally bought a nice big wood ball winder. Wobble issues were addressed in that design but the directions also include tips, which clued me in to some other issues. Since I’ve been studying the problem, my plying from center pull balls has improved significantly.

  4. When you said you were spinning “Let’s Hang On” I thought what the hell song is that! I couldn’t remember it…but as soon as I saw your post the song popped into my head. Now it will be there all day!
    It turned out beautifully!

  5. Now that is some beautiful yarn! I just got J Mac’s new book (Teach yourself Visually handspinning) and she addresses the snapped single issue. When I get home I’ll e-mail you that section.

  6. The yarn looks great. The colors are so springy and happy. Thanks for sharing the plying method. I’ll have to try that.

  7. What happy colors! Teyani’s roving is so much fun!

    Cindy from Cindyknits had a little tutorial using the felted ball a few weeks ago as well. It sounds like a good way to ply!

  8. Such pretty colors! I’ll have to go check out that link, as I don’t get where a felted ball comes into the picture, but I’m also still low on the caffeine meter this morning!

  9. I generally use that method when I ply fine singles and when I ply on a drop spindle, things that tangle easily. It gives me two hands for plying instead of the three I’d need to control tangles. Rita Buchanan showed that method at a workshop a couple of years ago. It is one more good tool to add to our toolboxes.

  10. I read about that method too and would like to try it one of these days. Did you make a felted ball just for this purpose?

    I’ll be curious to see what you get for advice on joining together breaks in superwash. I haven’t had it happen with SW yet,but it’s bound to eventually.

    Your yarn looks great!

  11. Lovely yarn! I’ll be interested to see what people say about a snapped single when plying. I sometimes have the same problem.

  12. Woo and a Hoo indeed. I hate the waste when plying from 2 bobbins that are uneven in size. I just got the new J Mac book too and will have to try this out soon. Lord knows I’ve got 10 full bobbins in need of plying. Love your skeins btw.

  13. POO! I hate my computer sometimes. Typepad ATE my big fat long comment. Maybe that’s their way of saying I talk too much? Hmm.

    LOVELY Happy Yarn Carole! Have you tried overlapping the broken ends about 4″ on your superwash single? Might work but I haven’t tried spinning superwash yet so I don’t really know what I’m talking about. heh 🙂

  14. LOVE that yarn! I want to squeeze it! When my singles break (not as often anymore, thankfully), I do what Laura said and overlap the singles and ply that section really carefully to make sure the ply will hold the broken ends together. So far, so good! I’m curious to know other suggestions you recieve.

  15. Actually, a 2-inch overlap should suffice. Four inches is overkill. You can leave a half-inch end sticking out from each singles and give them a little tug later to even things out, then snip to tidy.

    Keep spinning and soon it won’t be an issue because your grist will become more consistent. A few years down the road you’ll have to re-learn how to spin inconsistently because your hands will automatically spin an even singles.

    As for plying, I’m a huge fan of storage bobbins!

  16. Very pretty!

    When something that can’t be spit-spliced together breaks as I’m plying, I usually just overlap the ends by a couple of inches and carry on.

    I love that Crown Mountain stuff.

  17. Those colors are wonderful…the yarn just made me smile! As for your plying issues, I rarely ever ply from a c/p ball unless I’m plying spindle yarn or am sampling. Rita’s trick, which she showed us in a class last spring, is mainly used for sampling and is not something I would ever use for a large project. When plying from bobbins, however, dealing with breaks is a fairly simple thing: simply insert the tail of the new yarn in between the two ends coming from your wheel. The new end will just twist itself in and be fine. (If you find you HAVE to ply from a c/p ball, try this instead. Use a nostepinne to wind the ball and ply right from the nostepinne! No collapsed center or tangles that way, either!)

  18. Nice trick. I’m planning on making a 2 ply out of the merino/tussah that is on my wheel now. Not sure I have the patience for this technique though…last time I did 2 ply from a center pull I didn’t have any problems…which now that I’ve said that of course means that I will!

  19. *stares at the instructions* So…you wind your single into a ball with your ball-winder, then take the outside and the inside ends, twist them together, hand-ball the whole thing, then…re-wind it with the ball winder?

  20. Very springy and Easter-eggy. 🙂 I like!

    I so suck at plying. I need to go to remedial plying school. Or only spin singles forever and ever…

  21. Yeah, you lost me at “plying.” Good little skimmer that I am, I’m back with you at “Woo and also Hoo” — haven’t heard that in a while! ; ) Barberpole yarn and one of my favorite Frankie Valli’s going through my head — what’s not to love over here today?

  22. Since I don’t spin (yet), I’m definitely not going to be any help to you but what I do know is that your yarn is gorgeous! I love the fiber at Crown Mountain Farms. I’m going to a fiber festival next February and Teyani is going to teach me to drop spindle. I’m so excited!

  23. Carole,

    I just spun some Spunky roving and have one single left on a bobbin, but the other ran out. I was trying to figure out how to ply it without doing the center pull ball method just for the reasons you mentioned. You saved me. I am going to go try this tonight!


  24. I think the yarn looks lurvely! When my SW breaks while plying, I unwind the yarn a wee bit splitting the two plies and then break a bit of one off and then proceed to join the two and continue plying. Does that make any sense? If not, I’ll try to explain it better when I’m less brain dead!

  25. That looks great girl!

    I have a ton of roving that can be dyed in any colorway in the gallery too. Just sayin’. I’m getting caught up. Byt next week I should be ready!

  26. no need for knots, dear you! (although I’m with the commentor that said *stares at directions and says huh*) You can either split one of the singles coming out of your wheel, and wrap the new end in between the split, or just open up the ply on the yarn coming from the orafice, lay the broken end in between, and keep on spinnning, (trim loose ends later) It really will grab, no need to worry.
    In the meantime, I’m singing along with Frankie Valli here, and LOVING the look of your yarn! Delightful spinning dear, and I* can’t wait to see how it looks knit – I haven’t had a chance to try that colorway yet . It looks wonderful!

  27. I knew Teyani would have the advice you need.

    The yarn is beautiful!!!!!!

    I have done the ball thing and it does work. But because I’m lazy, I’ve been switching back to the center-pull ball outside/inside. No problems lately, I don’t know why not.

    Happy spinning!

  28. Beautiful yarn! I don’t have any tips for you on the superwash splice other than Russian join. I think that is what Teyani is talking about.

  29. The colors of that yarn are so pretty. Teyani is so good with those dyes! It looks like you’ve already gotten lots of advice on what to do with broken superwash singles, but I do like just about everyone else already told you, and overlap the broken ends for a few inches, and keep spinning.

  30. You perhaps already got this answer, but often the breaks or splits happen in a thinner spot, so you can briefly overlap the broken bits while you ply for a small area of three ply. Because you have the other ply unbroken it holds it together. It is very sturdy once the yarn is used in knitting.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top