To ply or not to ply

A lot of times I’ll be at a guild meeting or on a spinning forum and someone will show a singles they’ve spun and ask, “Should I ply this?”

Each time I cringe a little bit inside. Why? Because the time to decide whether you want to ply your yarn is before you start spinning your singles.

The singles I spin for plying is not the same singles I spin to stand on its own as a singles.

Behold. Here are three skeins I spun. Each one started as 4oz of 75% BFL/25% tussah silk combed top in the Kandinsky colorway. (Just to remind you that you have options! You can get completely different looking yarn depending on how you spin and ply!)

Left-Right: Singles, 2 ply, Navajo ply

Left-Right: Singles, 2 ply, Navajo ply

These two bobbins both hold singles. But the one on the right is the singles I spun to be a singles. The one on the left is the one I spun to be Navajo plied. Each bobbin contains 4oz, but the one on the right is much loftier.


When I spin my singles, I’m spinning with intention. Not like some people who know exactly what project the yarn will be used in and how many wraps per inch the yarn should have, and several other details, since for me the yarn is often the finished product, but I’m thinking about what I want the yarn to be like from the beginning. Do I want it to be a singles? A 2 ply? A Navajo ply? So I spin the singles accordingly.

At its very simplest, here’s how I spin and ply:

  • Singles: spin using largest whorl
  • 2 ply: spin and ply using smallest whorl
  • Navajo ply: spin using smallest whorl, ply using largest whorl

Here are the same two bobbins after I Navajo plied. You can see the yarn on the left got loftier after Navajo plying, but it’s still not as lofty as the singles on the right.


If you’re doing Spinzilla this year, you can count your extra spinning involved in plying. For example, 100 yards of a 2 ply yarn counts as 300 yards (200 yards of singles + 100 yards of plying). 100 yards of a Navajo ply yarn counts as 400 yards (300 yards of singles + 100 yards of plying). So you can spin spin spin and ply to your heart’s content, and it will all count!

Just a reminder, Spinzilla team registration is open until September 22, and it’s September already! (I blinked and missed August. Did you too?) I hope you’ll join us in Team Happy Fuzzy Yarn Spinners!



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  1. Valerie Gayman

    LOVED this to the moon and back! Great advice and I will be following it! Thanks!

  2. jacey

    Great post and totally true!

  3. kelly

    An excellent explanation about the plying process.

  4. Jeri

    I understand using the different whorls. But, how do you set your tension for the lofty single?
    Thank you so much for this article. It’s very well written.
    God bless,

  5. Riin

    Thanks Jeri. For all of my yarns, I set my tension so it’s not so tight that it’s pulling the yarn out of my hands, but tight enough that it pulls it onto to the bobbin when I release it and doesn’t stay in my hands longer than I want. It’s a fine line, and a sweet spot.

  6. Jeri

    Thank you, Riin. I appreciate your response.
    I have an S10, and she’s a “grabby” wheel. (Greedy little thing!) Wonder if it’s even possible for me to spin these stand alone singles?

  7. Riin

    I spun all of these yarns on my S10. Try adjusting your tension, just a teensy little bit at a time!

  8. Jeri

    Hahaha! That’s too funny!
    Ok, you’ve inspired and challenged me! I will give it a try as soon as I get this other that I intend to coil off my bobbin.
    You’re right. I probably adjust too much at a time.
    Blessings to you!

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