Since I don't have a huge amount of yarn on the spindle for my Spindlers June challenge yarn, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to finally try a plying bracelet.
A common method of plying, especially among spindle spinners, is to ply from both ends of a center-pull ball. Essentially, what you are doing is folding your single in half and plying it from both ends to the middle of the single. There are arguments that can be made either for or against the idea of plying a single against itself, but especially for small lengths of yarn or for samples, it is the simplest method of plying.
There are several different ways of setting up this process: (1) winding a center-pull ball manually, (2) using a ball-winder, (3) winding a center-pull ball on a nostepinne and leaving the yarn on the nostepinne during plying, and (4) winding a plying bracelet on your hand.
I've tried the first three methods before, and I have to admit, I'm not a fan. There are spinners who swear by these methods of plying, but I have found it a frustrating process with lots of tangled yarn, so until now I only swear at these methods, not by them. The more you ply, the looser the ball becomes and the greater your chances for tangles to form in the ball. But I haven't yet tried using a plying bracelet and before I throw up my hands in utter surrender with regards to plying a single back on itself, I want to give it a try. I especially like the idea of having a simple method of plying that doesn't involve any tools except my hands.
So here goes..
In my quest for plying bracelet self-education, I went to my home library and read descriptions of the method in Amelia Garripoli's "Productive Spindling" and Priscilla Gibson-Roberts "Spinning in the Old Way." Oddly enough, their descriptions are mirror images of each other. Garripoli calls the method "Andean Plying Bracelet" and has the wraps of the bracelet form on the palm of the hand. Gibson-Roberts calls it "Peruvian hand-wrap plying" and forms the wraps on the back of the hand.
I decided to go with Garripoli's instructions, because it seemed like it would be easier to slip my finger out of the wraps if they are on my palm, rather than the back of my hand, when I come to that part of the process. You'll see what I mean.
To start, decide which hand is going to hold the yarn. I chose to wrap my left hand. I secured the end of my yarn to the inside of my left arm. I "cheated" by using a bit of tape on my arm:
Next, I brought the yarn over my palm and around my middle finger.
The yarn is then wrapped below the thumb and around the back of the hand to the other side. It comes back up from the pinky side of the palm to wrap around the middle finger again, then back down to the pinky side of the palm.
From there, wrap the yarn across the back of the hand to the thumb side, up around the middle finger, back to the thumb side.
Please note that when you wrap around the middle finger, you'll be alternating the sides of the finger that is wrapped. From the pinky side, wrap around the left side of the finger (palm facing you), and from the thumb side, wrap around the right side of the finger (again, palm facing you).
Repeat the process until all of the single yarn is wound around your hand. Some folks create beautiful wraps... mine is fairly ugly, but very functional:
Finally, you need to gently push the yarn wrapped around the bottom of your palm up a bit, to ease the tension just enough where you can slip your finger out of the loop of yarn that is wound around it. This is why I chose to wrap the single against my palm instead of the back of my hand. It was much easier to gently remove my finger from the loop in this direction. The key to creating the plying bracelet is using enough tension on the yarn during the wrapping process that it doesn't tangle back on itself, but not so much that you can't easily slip your finger out of the loop.
Once your finger is removed from the loop, the yarn becomes a circle that you gently ease back down to your wrist. Keep track of the ends, secure them back to the spindle, and start plying!
Using a plying bracelet is the first time I have enjoyed the process of plying a single back on itself to create a final 2-ply yarn. I didn't struggle with yarn tangling back on itself, and the plying process went very quickly and smoothly. I have now discovered my vastly preferred method for this kind of plying, and I will never bother with center-pull balls or a nostepinne for plying like this again.
I can see that the one potential problem is that you do need a bit of uninterrupted time for this method. Once the yarn is on your hand, you're more or less stuck with it until you're finished with plying. MNLacer commented on last Friday's post about this issue, and also suggested that in a pinch, you can ease the bracelet around another object like a paperback book if you are forced to take a break during plying. I will definitely keep that in mind!
Here is the spindle full of plied yarn:
Now I'm off to wind the yarn into a skein and wash it!