There were a few concerned suggestions that I must not, must not turn the two Corriedale bobbins into a two-ply. The reason? The singles were (thanks to the arrangement of the batt) possessed silky-smooth transitions from the deep purple to paler purple to green, and only a chain/Navajo ply would preserve those transitions in the finished yarn.
I appreciate the concern, but I didn't want to chain ply. As I explained in the previous entry, chain plying is the only sort of plying I've ever done. Joining the Tour de Fleece isn't about doing what I've already done, it's about trying as many new things as I possibly can.
Plying happened a day later than planned. I sat down to work on schedule, but then–as might happen in the real race–I immediately got a flat. The little dome-shaped wooden whatsit at the orifice end of my flyer came unglued. Not that I should be surprised–this wheel is probably a year or two older than I, and bits of me have also started coming unglued.
The mend was easy, but I am my father's son and you do not fiddle around with a glued join until the glue is completely dry. That's a lesson from day one of Making Stuff in the Garage with Dad class.
Twenty-four hours later I tried again. My guiding lights–Alden Amos's Big Book of Handspinning and The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin–were once again enormously helpful. I like to see what Alden says, compare it to what Judith says, then lay out a battle plan.
Both advise that the set-up for plying ought to allow for plenty of room between the bobbin rack (in my case, a Lendrum lazy kate from The Fold, in Marengo, Illinois–contender for Best Spinning Shop in North America), the spinner's hands, and the orifice.
Plenty of room, for me, meant seven feet from the lazy kate to my hands, and about 18 inches from my hands to the wheel. That is the utmost my apartment will accommodate without removing all the furniture from the room.
Before beginning, I made a general announcement that the strands being plied were not to be used as a jump rope, clothesline, limbo stick, or tripwire. Then I posted Harry as guard, which gave him an excuse to wear the butch little "SECURITY" ball band he wore while working the door at the Yarn Pride dance this year. So everyone was happy.
The long, long set-up allows the twists in the singles to re-distribute themselves as they approach the wheel. It helps even things out, said the experts–and it certainly seems to have worked. My singles didn't magically morph into perfection, but the tighter kinks that had me worried did vanish. That was magic enough for me.
Alden's method for holding the yarns seemed more straightforward (if you want to know about it, get the book–it's worth it), so I went with that. Judith's description of the actual hand motions (in which the hand nearer the orifice moves and the other hand does not) made more sense, so I went with that. I also liked her take on counting while you draft (yes, you should–at least at first).
Here's how I counted. This will be of no use to anyone except me, next time I need to remember what I did.
One: Treadle. (Orifice hand holds back the twist.)Repeat.
Two: Treadle. (Orifice hand holds back the twist.)
Three: Treadle and release twist into the strand.
Four: Treadle and feed the plied yarn to the wheel.
I started slowly and focused on the counting and on spinning the wheel counterclockwise rather than clockwise. When that was going well I added in Alden's "rolling release" (again, see the book) which does, in fact, seem to help smooth the plying twist.
Much more quickly than expected, I had this.
Not perfect. Not even close. But it is plied.
I confess that I carried the bobbin around like a teddy bear so I could turn it over in my hands and just look at it. It may have spent the night on my nightstand, but you'll never know.
Then, today, I wound it off to the niddy-noddy. As with plying, I made sure to keep a good distance between myself and the flyer–another chance for the twist to even itself out.
This niddy-noddy was hand-turned. I got it (on the same day as the the lazy kate) at The Fold. If you've never been The Fold, you need to put it on your life list. Toni should be sent on an all-expenses-paid world tour so everyone can see what the owner of a fiber business ought to be.
As I write, the yarn is still on the niddy-noddy awaiting lease ties (the little strands that keep it from tangling) because, as I said before, I can't stop looking at it. I'm mesmerized by what the colors in the original batt did when I plied them together. It's barber pole all the way, but echoes of the original transitions persist.
I want to order another "Smoothie" from Lunabudknits, spin the colors in a different order, and see what happens with those.
But first, this lot has to been skeined and then wet finished. More after that's complete...