Do I need a different twist angle in my singles for different plies?

3 ply CVMBy Amelia © February 18, 2010

I know it’s counterintuitive, but you want less twist in your singles for the 3-ply, to have the same twist angle as the 2-ply will. Think of it this way: you have 3 strands contributing twist to the plying – so the same TPI (twists per inch) in the 3-ply would result from singles with less twist in them - each single has to contribute less twist, since there are more of them. Oh, and … Mabel Ross, in The Essentials of Yarn Design, goes into this in detail. OOP but well worth scooping up if you find a copy, if this sort of thing excites you (it does me!)

I have tried this out; I usually spin, these days, a fairly high-twist single for a nice bouncy round 2-ply. If I forget and spin the same single for a 3-ply, it seems a bit harsh to me, too high a twist angle for softness of the fiber to come through. So, I spin the 3-ply singles with a little less twist, to get the same bouncy round yarn I enjoy with my 2-plies.

Besides not needing as much twist in your singles for a 3-ply (so you can regain some of the time spent spinning that third single), another benefit of a 3-ply yarn is that it averages out the irregularities of the singles a bit better. In general, a 3-ply yarn looks more consistent than a 2-ply yarn from the same singles. Yeah, Murphy's Law can strike and there might be areas that magnify errors, but in general a true 3-ply hides more than it reveals. That's why the local county fair judge comes with an Ott light and a magnifying glass -- she knows this, too!

California Red Navajo-pliedI would note that I mean a true 3-ply; a Navajo/Chain-ply tends to magnify inconsistencies since it folds a single on itself locally -- remember local minima and local maxima from high school trigonometry? A Navajo ply is like taking the derivative of your single, magnifying fineness or thickness along the length of each chain made. Only by taking three separate bobbins of singles and plying them together can we mask the irregularities of one bobbin with the irregularities of the other two.

Of course, we can also work on making our singles more consistent, so that no matter how we ply our yarn, it will be consistent.

Related Posts:
How do I spin thicker plied yarns?
How do you make a good looking 2-ply yarn?
How can I fix the twist in my 2-ply yarn?
How do I spin a more even single?
How much twist does singles yarn need?
How can I divide roving evenly for a 2-ply or a 3-ply?

© 18 February 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at

No comments: