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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Plying with Silk Thread

I have a cone of very fine two-ply silk thread and want to ply it with singles to make laceweight three-ply. The first thing I had to do was discover the direction of the thread's ply. It was plied S, counterclockwise. I used a 10x magnifying glass to get a good look at it - it was too fine to see otherwise.

Once I knew that the thread had been plied S, I wanted to see what would happen if I plied it with a single that had been spun Z (clockwise), plying them both together S (counterclockwise). Are you with me?

The rust-colored sample is the result. The fiber is an alpaca/Rambo blend. After finishing it bloomed all right, and is a very kinky, still-energized 3-ply.

The pale brown sample is CVM, spun S (counterclockwise) and plied with the silk thread Z (clockwise). The result is much smoother, even after finishing. There is no residual twist energy.

So - silk two-ply (plied S) plied S again with Z-spun single equals lumpy, bumpy, fluffy, twisty yarn.

Silk two-ply (plied S) plied again Z, with S-spun single, equals smoother, even three-ply with no residual twist energy.

If you understood this the first time through, give yourself an A+!!


  1. I have to go back and read it again. Too many S's and Z's for one perusal. ;-)

  2. Woohoo, I get an A+! I have to wonder, and I know this is just extra work, but I wonder if it would make a difference if you were to spin the silk thread a bit to give it some active twist as I'm sure it is perfectly balanced before plying (does that make sense?) Just so you would have some twist to balance that of the spun single...

  3. This was exactly the commentary I was looking for, wondering if I should Z-ply my S-ply silk thread before S-plying it with a Z-ply single. Thank you for this experiment & pictures!