Until now I’ve done simple plying with two strands held together but a couple of weeks ago there was The Stitch Up, an event at my local yarn shop. There were several stands with some of my favourite wooly people. One was Katie from Hilltop Cloud. I get a lot of my spinning fibre from her etsy shop. I love the colours she blends and the resultant yarns. She also specialises in British breeds of sheep which I think is interesting and positive. Katie was scheduled to do a demonstration of Navajo plying at the show and I decided that to get the most out of that, before the event I would find out about this method of plying and have a go at it.
Navajo plying (or chain plying) involves creating slip knots with one single and then plying the three strands created by the slip knot together making a yarn from a one single rather than two or more. The result is a three ply yarn. It makes sense to make the slip knots as long as possible, reducing the number of knots in the yarn (which should be largely undetectable) and the potential weak points associated with these. It sounds complicated but in practise it’s quite straightforward.
The main advantages of this method are that a three ply yarn is stronger and more robust than a two ply (a threefold cord is not quickly broken…), and that if your fibre is variegated you can keep the colours separate more easily as you ply one bit of single with the next bit of the same single. If you two ply a variegated yarn with two singles unless you are very careful and accurate about how you separate the colours in the fibre up, you are likely to get a barber pole effect which is fine if that’s what you want, but it’s nice to also have the choice to keep a more striped style to your yarn.
This was really good timing for me to learn about this as I have some really lovely variegated fibre (Sweet Georgia) comprised of browns and teal. I’m planning for this to become Scottish Reel and now I’ve learned this method of plying I can create a yarn of about the right weight with nice sections of the different colours.