I had always assumed that twist was added, or taken away (depending on the input yarn) when you wound a ball on the ball winder. So, when another raveler asked me about that, I almost flippantly replied "yes". But then I thought, I ought to see which direction the twist is in.
And the best way to "see" twist is to use a flat ribbon -- Patsy Zawistoski uses this to graphically demonstrate why you roll the yarn onto the wraps-per-inch tool rather than winding it around it, in her video Spinning Wool: Basics and Beyond.
So, I hooked up a roll of ribbon to my ballwinder, and ...
There's no twist in those wraps! The ribbon is twisted through half a revolution from the bobbin it is on to where it reaches the ball winder, but there, there's no twist put in. You could have knocked me over with a feather!
Okay, so let's think about this. Why do so many teachers say the ball winder will affect the twist? Because it can. And no, I'm not contradicting myself.
Notice how I have the spool of ribbon on my Lazy Kate? I'm feeding the ribbon off the side of the spool, "side feed". This is crucial -- side feed ensures the ribbon comes off the spool without adding twist. Ditto our spinning wheel bobbins -- if you pull the yarn off the side, letting the bobbin rotate freely, you pull it off without adding twist.
But looks what happens when I pull the center of the ball of ribbon straight up:
There it is -- TWIST! It was as if a lightbulb was turned on -- I knew this -- the end-feed effect (is that what it's always called? I've no idea, I do this by the seat of my pants) -- when you pull the yarn up off the end, rather than from the side, you add twist -- one complete twist for each round of yarn you pull off (so it varies as the diameter of the ball changes, in terms of twist per length...).
What does this mean? If you wind a center-pull ball to ply from, consider that when you ply from it, if you ply from an end (or both ends -- we all do it, come on, admit it... ok, I do it, even if you don't!) you're adding twist to the yarn. Which direction? In my case, I wound the ball clockwise, and the strand is getting S twist (counterclockwise) as I pull it up from the center of the ball.
That means, if I'm plying from two center-pull balls, I'm taking twist out of my singles before I ply them (oops...) ... so if I am matching up to a sample from my singles, my yarn is going to end up slightly overplied. Honestly, the amount of twist removed isn't much -- but it's going to decrease over the length of the single, as the diameter of the core of the ball increases, so my wanna-be-perfect yarn is going to be that much less than perfectly consistent.
If I wind a skein into a center-pull ball and then re-wind it to loosen the ball, feeding from the center of the first ball, I'm changing the amount of twist in the yarn. Oops.
So if you wind into a center-pull ball, what can you do to avoid this extra twist? Push the ball from the ballwinder onto a sturdy core -- a TP tube, a paper towel core, or even some lengths of PVC pipe. Nancy's Knit Knacks sells a really tough cardboard core made for this, which has the benefit of fitting to the top of the Royal ball winder (like mine) and letting you slide the ball right onto it. Once you have it mounted, put that on your lazy kate and feed off the side, letting the ball rotate freely, so twist isn't put into the yarn as it's pulled from the ball.
There you go. Now, we both know :-)
posted 31 March 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/