I like textured yarns. Some textured yarns take a lot of thinking and are fiddly, or more fiddly than I sometimes have the brain power on a particular day to spin.
That’s why I love spiral plying. At it’s most basic, a spiral ply is plying a 2-ply yarn with one ply held straight from the orifice under a bit of tension with the second ply held at a 30-45 degree angle with almost no tension. Magically, the angled ply wraps around the vertical ply in a lovely spiral.
I usually hold my vertical ply taunt , but not pulling against the uptake and the angled ply so loose it almost just runs through my hands. The combination of the difference in angle and the difference in tension makes the angled ply spiral around the vertical ply.
Spiraling works best if the two plys are of a different size, with the spiraling ply being bigger. I like to spin my thinner ply worsted and my spiraling ply woolen for extra contrast. I also like to use different fibers and different colors for even more visual contrast. I spun and knit a few samples this weekend.
I spun all of my silk at once, I didn’t want to vary that yarn. I spun it worsted at about 26 WPI. I spun the Shetland three different ways: a fingering weight, a thick and thin and a bulky super puffy. The photos below show (L to R) the front of a stockinette swatch, a bit of the yarn and the reverse of the stockinette swatch.
With these samples I think the yarns were too close in size and I wasn’t getting enough angle on the spiral. It looks like an interesting-ish marled yarn.
I love this, especially the reverse side of the knitted fabric, all randomly bumpy with shots of the silk. For choosing knitting needles, I split the difference between the thick and the thin, but more toward the thick end. The knitted fabric is really lightweight.
I like this one too, but not as much as the thick and thin. With this one I like the reverse side of the knitted swatch too. The silk on the front side looks random in a way that’s not pleasant to me – kind of clumpy, but on the reverse side it looks organically random, which I like.
I also did a thick and thin sample with both yarns from the same fiber.
Again I am in love with the texture of the reverse side of the knitted swatch, and really like the tone on tone.
I wonder what a sweater out of spiral plied yarn would be like?
Jillian is the author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts.
She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing.
Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com