Sunday, July 19, 2009

plying on the spindolyn (a little more about)

A customer recently sent me this email (thank you Judy for asking and prompting me to post)

“I am wondering if anyone has tried plying with two spindolyns. I'm thinking that I could spin singles on both spindolyns and then ply directly from them onto another spindle. That would eliminate winding the singles off the spindolyn. I would probably need to have beanbags for both spindolyns so that they wouldn't tip over. It seems so simple that I'm sure someone must have tried it. Do you know if this would work well? “


The answer is yes, it can be done and is a method I use often, but I have not talked about it much because I assume that most people don’t have 3 spindolyn bases and a beanbag for each (though many spinners do have one base and two or more extra spindles to go with it) Also, plying is one of those “best practices vs. whatever get’s it done” skills, and I don’t want to advocate a method that might get the “plying police” after me. So with disclaimers included (and following) here is one way that I ply off of the spindolyns.

IMG_6575 (600x800)

In the picture above, I have placed the spindles on a chair in front of me, so that you can see them in the photo, but normally, they would be on the floor in front or to the side of me. The more distance you have between your source of singles, and the plying spindle, the more you will be able to use your hands to control the twist of the yarns coming together. The bases are sitting propped in the beanbags so that they lean on an angle and the yarn can feed off of the cop without getting caught on the hook. Also, I normally spin in a kicked back position, with the spindle more stuck in the crook of my knee, but in order to juggle the camera in one hand and get everything else in the view finder, I have to sort of place things awkwardly.

Another disclaimer, yes, that is a high whorl spindolyn you see in the photo. It is a prototype that I have been testing, to be called the “Octavia” It does spin nicely, but it’s drawback is does not feed off as nicely in this arrangement as the other spindolyn you see in the picture, which is also another prototype I am testing (possibly to be called the “piccolo”) But y’all aren’t supposed to notice those yet<g>

IMG_6576 (600x800)

Here you can see how I hold my hand when plying, with each strand tensioned as you see, to give me control of the angle and amount of twist in the ply.

Now for the other disclaimers: "best practices in plying" encourage you to wind off your singles so that you can rewind them in a tidy and consistent fashion to better prepare them for proper plying. Also, some even wind, then re-wind one again, so that the two sources have two different directions of end presentation imitate the "ply back upon itself" natural tendency of overspun.

But, sometimes, you are not after perfection, you are after the "git er done" satisfaction.

With that approach in mind, I also have been working on a lazy kate type base to put the spindles in for plying so that you don’t have to have multiple bases, sort of like this.

IMG_6625 (800x730)

But it still needs the following: for me to find an affordable and nearby source for wider wood. The wooden base has to compromise between stability and portability, as well as shipping weight. It needs more experimentation on the correct angle, and some sort of wire guide (which might not be as necessary, if i don’t release the high whorl spindolyn, it is the recalcitrant one that really needs a guide.)

And you thought I was just laying around on the beach idle this summer?

Meanwhile, all the R and D has been conducted with some old (maybe 9 years?) drum carded Romney fleece I found in a bag in the bottom of an antique trunk of mine. It is from my old favorite sheep of my long ago and misty past “Maggie” and I still like spinning her the best.


  1. Cady May, Thank you for continuing to bring us all such ingenious inventions. You do good work. Actually- your spindles are the only ones that I use for they work perfectly for the way I like to spin. Just got my new spindolyn in the mail today and am getting ready to try it out. I have one of your older models as well and am planning on doing the kind of plying that you show here. When you get the spindle holders ready to go - I will be first in line to purchase them! Thank you for opening the world of spinning up for me.

    Best wishes,
    Minneapolis, MN

  2. Janet in Cleveland, OhioJuly 28, 2009 at 11:33 PM

    Your wire guide solution may be something as simple as a metal shower ring. I ply cones of fine yarn together by putting them on the floor and above them I use a shower ring attached to whatever is convenient to hook it on. I have a bunch of stacking cupboards and drawers and I put it over the knobs or open it to put through the handles or I dangle it through an arm of an extended swing arm lamp mounted at the edge of a table. The yarn settles into the smaller end of the shower ring where the curtain would have gone. The higher the ring the better. The yarn doesn't tangle, snag, or fold back on itself when there is a greater distance between the ring and the source. This may or may not be marketable for you because you don't know what people have in their homes to hook it on but it may at least help you. I even use a shower ring on my lamp at my sewing machine when I use cone serger thread. I place the cone on the table behind my machine, thread through the ring, then down to the machine where the spool would have been. Just something to think about and/or try. Good luck and enjoy

  3. Misa, Thanks! I recently read the thread on Ravelry on "ply on the fly" and have gotten hung up on playing that fun! will have to post a photo tutorial of navajo plying and ply in the fly in the spindolyn soon.

  4. Janet, I have used all sorts of rigging for plying and for the knitting machine,except... the shower curtain ring!! what a great idea! Thank you for taking the time to share.

  5. I love the idea of the spindolyn plying base. Have you considered attaching fold out arms for stabilization, instead of a wider base that may also make it heavier? The arms folding out of the base would allow you to keep it light and very portable, but when open would stabilize it. Just a thought.

    I just ordered my first spindolyn and I am so excited!

  6. Hi Beverly,
    The fold out arms are a great idea! Jimmy suggested a thigh strap :) but your idea is a good one, thank you for sharing it.


Welcome to Spindolyns At Cady May's Corner

Frequently Asked Questions   Etsy Store