Navajo Plying - 3 ply from one bobbin!
Because I suggest Navajo plying as an easy way of separating the colours out in my wool when spinning, I get quite a few enquiries as to how this is done. It's also a really good way to use up ends of singles left on the bobbin. You can use the little scraps of yarn to make an Anna-Maria hat or the Granny Square beanie.
I've made the video to try to explain it clearly; it's not a difficult technique to master - there are just two things that are important:
Ok - let's get going!
Written instructions below - or watch the video.
First, spin your singles - you'll only need one bobbin at a time to ply from, as Navajo plying magically creates a three-ply yarn from one single. Make sure your single yarn is about 1/3 more twisted than you would normally spin it. Because of its 3-ply nature, Navajo is more tighly plied and has a greater angle of twist when finished.
You will need to set up some method of tensioning the bobbin, as otherwise the reel has a tendency to react to wind-off by reversing spin.
This ranges from annoying to exasperating as it can cause all sorts of stops, loops and tangles.
My method is to use the same cotton crochet yarn as I do for the Scotch tension on my spinning wheel. I have had the same trusty reel of yarn for at least ten years, although I must admit it's getting a little near the end now. I have put two small flyer hooks (the cup hook shape, not the l-shape) opposite one another at the large end of the bobbin, then tied a rubber band to one end and attached the other with a sturdy non-running knot. I put several knots in the rubber band so I can vary the tension. Very crude I admit but it has served me well! The rubber bands perish quite quickly so keep a supply on hand.
Do some samples first to make sure you get it right before going on to ply a whole bobbin. The aim is to have a balanced yarn - not quite so easy to achieve as with two-ply but not impossible. Try plying a few metres, then skeining off and testing the twist.
Picking up a loop from previous loop.
At first you will want to proceed slowly; it takes a little practise but eventually you will get into a rhythm.
Use a two-ply leader on your bobbin, and put a knot in the end of the leader to hold the plies together. Now carefully open up the two plies and, folding a loop of about 4" (10cm) of your single, snap it into the open leader loop. Let go of the leader. Now you have a loop of singles firmly attached to your leader.
In the picture above, the existing loop is held loosely in the right hand while the new loop is picked up with the index finger and the twist is controlled by the left hand.
Looping the loop!
Extending the new loop
The basic plying movement is making long crochet loops with your hands. Always picking up the single coming directly from the bobbin, hold the loop open and pull a loop through, letting the twist up into the new loop.
Controlling the twist with the left hand, the right hand pulls out the loop to a comfortable length. The loops don't have to be very long, but it is nice to have them evenly spaced. If you want, you can space them to coincide with colour changes - this gives a nice, neat break between colours. A little knot appears at each overlap but this is not really noticeable in the finished yarn.
Once you have enough twist gathered, let the yarn go through onto the bobbin smoothly, pinching off the twist when there is a loop left big enough for your fingers to pick up the next loop.
And so on!