The question of how to ply a balanced yarn is one that comes up often in the various online spinning communities.
The following instructions are for my favourite method, which works whether your yarn is in the grease or not, and no matter how long the singles have been sitting on the bobbin.
If you’ve ever washed a skein of yarn that you thought was balanced, only to find that it has live twist once you remove it from the water, then this technique will help you overcome this annoying problem.
If you take a close look at a singles yarn, you’ll be able to see the fibres are twisted at an angle. This is called the “angle of twist”, and can be measured with a protractor if you’re so inclined.
The yarn in the photo on the left has a 45 degree angle of twist (approximately).
The amount of twist in your single will depend on how firmly you have spun your yarn and will differ depending on your personal taste, length of fibre staple and the project you wish to make with your finished yarn.
When you ply a perfectly balanced yarn, your fibres will lie roughly parallel to each other and be returned to a vertical direction.
The same angle of twist can still be seen in the plies, but the actual fibres are now vertical. All you need to do to ensure that you’re plying a balanced yarn is to stop every now and again and check that the fibres are vertical. You don’t need to worry if you’re plying isn’t perfect throughout the skein as the slightly loose bits and slightly over plied bits tend to even out during washing.
If you have plied your singles immediately after spinning them, then your yarn will be perfectly balanced as soon as you take it off the bobbin. If the singles were spun over a period of time you’ll need to soak your yarn for about half an hour in warm water with a little wool wash or shampoo. Rinse, spin out the excess water and lay out (or hang up) your skein to dry.
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