Winter Rose and Andean wrist plying

Many many months ago, I started spinning singles for Winter Rose, SW merino from Sosae Caetano (colors are way more accurate in the yarn pictures ahead).

Since it was so long from start to when I finished it, I can’t be certain, but I believe I prepped for a fractal-style spin as follows: I folded the roving along the length in thirds and tore at those points. Each 1/3 would be one ply. I vertically stripped each of these thirds into a different number of sections. I think maybe it was something like 4, 6 and 10 sections. This way, when I spun them up, each ply would have a different number of color repeats and the colors would blend together in lots of different combinations.

So I finally got my wheel set up in the new place and finished spinning the singles in a hurry. You’ll notice I’ve got two Woolee Winder bobbins and one standard Lendrum. The WW fills my heart with joy, but the bobbins sure don’t show off colors very well!

Inevitably when plying, I end up with one bobbin running out before the others. Because I hate to waste anything, I splice the remaining bobbin(s) together to stretch a little more yarn out of the singles. You can do this with any number of plies as long as your spinning isn’t perfect enough that they all finish at the same time. :)

One thing I did during prep was to make sure that I had one end on each bit that was the same color – brown, in this case – so that I could splice ends together later without a color jog. I used to think a color jog in one strand of a 3-ply wouldn’t be very noticeable, but I learned otherwise when I knit this:

To splice, I picked the bobbin with more singles left on it to wind off onto my hand. This will use up this bobbin twice as fast now.

I learned this as “Andean plying”, though I’ve heard that term used to describe other things related to spinning, so I generally refer to it as wrist plying. It also works really well for spindling. (Apologies for the poor lighting, but it was dark out and I was excited to finish the skein.)

The first step is to wind all the remaining singles off your chosen bobbin on to your hand.

Step 1: From over your thumb, loop the strand around your middle finger, from the ring finger side to the pointer finger side

Step 2: Bring the strand around your hand in the back – I don’t actually turn my hand over for this; my palm faces me the whole time

Step 3: Loop it over your middle finger again from the pointer finger side to the ring finger side (strand will follow more where the arrow is, mine was getting away from me)

Step 4: Bring the strand around the back of your hand again toward the thumb (again, palm faces me the whole time)

Repeat from step 1 until your bobbin runs out. I don’t have very much here, but you can build a LOT of yarn up on your hand this way. Be sure to wind loosely or you’ll cut off circulation in your middle finger.

Next, gather all those loops at your middle finger and carefully lift them off your middle finger. Let them settle at your wrist. Make sure you’ve saved out the end from the bobbin.

What you’re left with is a curly bracelet. The loops over your middle finger don’t actually connect to each other and are currently held together with wool grippiness and the fact that the singles are trying to twist together. Two strands come out of the swirl: the strand leading to the wheel and the end from the bobbin.

Splice the end from your bracelet to the end hanging off the wheel that was leftover from the bobbin that ran out first. Voila! You can 3-ply again! (or 2-ply or 4-ply or…) The loops at your wrist should release one at a time as you pull on the strands, keeping anything from getting tangled.

If I’m spindling, I tension the wrist strands with the same hand they’re on. For this ply, I was working two strands off my wrist and one from the remaining bobbin, so I tensioned all three from the opposite hand.

I’ve got a fiddly method for splicing but the pictures didn’t come out, so I’ll have to try that demo again next time.

Finished yarn!

With SW merino, I like to thwack pretty vigorously. I don’t have to worry about it felting and the deliberately high-twist sock yarn needs some beating into submission to keep it from being twisty while knitting. This one still didn’t calm down completely, but it’ll knit up just fine:

I chose a 3-ply for this yarn because I hoped it’d blend in the brown and make it less Christmassy. I think it was sort of successful, since it now looks like peppermint chocolate to me, but since I associate that with Christmas… not totally successful. I love it anyway and already caked it to cast on today:


Let me know if the plying thing makes sense. I’ve only ever taught it in person before.


Woodland Creek Socks

I enable myself.

Last post’s discussion of the Woodland Creek yarn caused me to immediately pull it out of hibernation and knit socks for my dad with it.

Every time I finish spinning a sock yarn, I become furiously curious about how it will knit up: the stripe width, if it makes matching socks, where the colors will fall. (Heather, when you work up the Tigerlily yarn, I reeeally want to see what it looks like!)

I’m pleased that the colors almost match – the colors change at a close rate, though the right-foot sock somehow got one ply with a lot more of the dark brown, which shows at the heel and the cuff where it doesn’t have the perfect gold-to-brown transition that the other does.

I think it is also interesting to see the difference that foot size makes. This skein was almost identical to the Arabian Nights skein in terms of yardage: both were 4 oz, traditional 3-ply, 404 yds for Arabian Nights and 408 yds for Woodland Creek (sometimes I amaze myself with my consistency.) If you look at the previous post, you’ll see that the purple transitions seamlessly around the heel. Actually… hrm, here’s a full shot of both socks:

Those are women’s US size 9.5 socks at 10″ long over 64 sts. The Woodland Creek socks are for men’s US size 11 at 11″ long over 72 sts. (Both pairs knit on 2.5mm/US 1.5 needles) Just those 8 stitches and one inch are enough to shift the gradient off so that there is a sharp color change at the ankle. The purple heel may be aided by the fact that the Arabian Nights yarn had more variegation. The turquoise here is a bright, solid color that highlights the color change, where the purple hides any color changes in the lovely random shaded stripes. The lesson to be learned from it is that if I want to make yarn like this again, I should deliberately choose roving that has been dyed to leave spots of white or with lots of varying color saturation. Also, ideally I’ll knit it into socks for someone with close to 10″ feet.

I knit the Woodland Creek socks two-at-a-time on a long circular needle, which let me use all of the yarn and also gave me the freedom to make up the pattern as I went and not have to write down or otherwise remember it for later. I stuck a little traveling cable on the sides that I’m quite amused by:

I’ll definitely have to do more this way, because the ribbing and the “V” on the instep make for really nice fitting socks. I might be tempted to keep these if I hadn’t knit them for Dad-sized feet. :)

More pictures on my Ravelry project page.