How can I fix my 2-ply yarn?

Did you spin up your yarn, ply it, wash it, let it dry and then decide it just won't work?

Breathe in, breathe out, and take another look. What's wrong with it? overtwist, undertwist, too thick, too thin? I once rescued some too-thin two ply by unplying it into 2 strands, then re-plying two 2-strand balls together into a 4 strand yarn. So now it's a lovely 4-ply worsted weight, perfect for the sweater I want to knit. After all, with purple merino, you can hardly go wrong!

Here are some things you can do with a finished skein of 2-ply:
  • add twist then turn it into a cable yarn by plying it back on itself in the opposite direction (singles Z, 2-ply S, cable-ply Z, usually)
  • add twist while plying on a thin outer yarn that wraps it, then take the twist back out while plying on another thin outer yarn in the opposite direction to make a "diamond" yarn. Ran across this in a plying workshop and just recently saw it written up in the new book Creative Spinning.
  • cut it into 3-inch lengths, run it through your hand cards to turn it back into unspun rolags and respin it (ok, this is drastic!) -- this is alot of work!!
  • unply it and then reply 2 balls into a 4 ply (ala my project)
  • unply it and then with two ballwinders (or two skeiners) working in parallel, wind it into two separate balls (helps if you have 2 helpers each on a ballwinder or skeiner, you on the bobbin making sure it doesn't get all jumbly-messed up by getting ahead of the game) ((ask me how I know... LOL)) - then you can have singles, reply into a 3 ply, or whatever. -- also a lot of work!!
  • overdye it to make it perfect for a different project
  • if it's underplied or overplied, add ply twist or remove ply twist, then wash it again to reset the twist without weights
  • repurpose it for a different project -- I just finished spinning a skein and it's too thick, so it'll not be socks, but a hat maybe. And a new project is also turning out thicker than desired, but I so want to Navajo 4-ply it that it'll be repurposed rather than just 2- or 3-plied. (Navajo 4-ply is when you Navajo 3-ply but carry along another strand, alternating which strand you do the chains with to get color shifts as you change strands).

I hope you find some interesting ideas in these to help spur solutions to your spinning "mishaps". Spinning's an adventure with alot of twists in it (ha ha).


Related posts:

How do you make a good looking 2-ply yarn?
Why won't the twist go into the thick spots of my singles?
Why are my singles separating during plying?
How fine do I spin my singles to get a target WPI in my plied yarn?


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Questions on repurposing yarn? See the comments in this post for questions so far! I'd love to hear them! Contact me or post them on the blog. Thanks!


Puddnik said...

Any recommendations for unplying? Every time I've tried, I end up with a tangled mess, and a heavy dose of frustration.

Cutting and recarding - that's an intriguing thought - I'll have to keep it in mind!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all those tips! Thanks also for explaining the Navajo 4-ply: that's very interesting. And please post a picture of your Navajo 4-plied yarn when it's done: I'm very curous to see how it turns out!

Anonymous said...

Your knowledge is amazing. thank you for sharing with all of us. My natalie is going fine by the way. Thanks again.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@vicki - thanks, as always!

@josiane - working on it, it got skeined up last night :-)

@ puddnik -- I unplyed onto another bobbin, taking out all the plying twist. I then left two of those un-plyed, 2-strand bobbins for a while (a week, maybe longer -- time does funny things with two schoolkids, sheep & llamas and a husband in the mix!) before taking the bobbins and replying them it up into a 4 ply.

If I had wanted to separate the plies into singles again, I would have had at least one (probably two!) friends over to help, put the bobbin in a tensioned lazy kate, and had two ball-winders going synchronously while keeping a light tension between the bobbin on the kate and the ball winders. Since those are singles-ready-to-ply, I'd expect them to have a fair bit of activity in them, so once again, leaving the bobbins in their 2-strand un-plyed state for a week would help a fair bit.

Oh, if you can get your hands onto a gossip wheel, I suppose you could use it as a dual-ball winder of sorts, separating strands onto two bobbins simultaneously from the 2-strand bobbin on the kate. But I don't have one of those handy ...

Warm water will always reinvigorate "stale" yarn for re-plying later or to determine how much plying twist was needed.

Thanks for asking!
- Amelia.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@josiane: the writeup on Navajo 4-ply is up -- in today's post!

Lisa said...

Is it possible to run the two ply through again and add more twist without taking it apart into singles again?

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for your question. You can add more plying twist without taking it apart to singles again, but you can't change the amount of twist in the singles. So, if your skein is underplied, you can fix it by adding more plying twist. And, if it's underplied but you want a thicker yarn, you could add more ply twist with 2 strands of 2-ply; this is called a hawser yarn, and is nicely described in Sarah Anderson's book "The Spinner's Book of Yarn Design".