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Setting The Twist

The yarn has been spun, and perhaps it has even been plied. Now are you ready to put it to use? Not quite. There are a few steps to follow to make your handspun easier to work with.

First of all, if you are creating a single ply yarn, it will take more work to set the twist and prevent the yarn from being kinked. Spinning a good single ply yarn is a talent that very few spinners, even ones with years of experience, possess. The reason is that the spinner must impart just the right amount of twist to hold the fiber together, without over twisting and causing the yarn to want to double back on itself or create little springy coils. Because I will admit, I am not an accomplished singles spinner, I prefer to set my singles by following a few steps. First, I like to leave them on the bobbin for as long as possible. If you canít really spare bobbin space, you may want to wind it onto a swift or winder and just let it set for awhile. Compare it to setting your hair in rollers, the longer they are in, the longer the set will last. The second step for setting the single ply yarn is to soak it in very warm water. I allow it to just hang out for about an hour. The third and final step for setting the yarn is to hang it to dry with a weight tied to the bottom. I use a quart milk jug that has been filled with play sand.

Because we can balance an over-spun single by over-plying until it is balanced, multiple ply yarns are easier to relax. However, we still need to set all of that twist so that the yarn doesnít spring within our project and create distortions. For plied yarns, I skip the long time on the bobbin or swift and go right to the soak. I do like to whiz the yarn out after it soaks. This is the step of taking the hank while it is still quite wet and swinging it vigorously in a circle to remove the excess water. Rather than drying under tension, I dry plied yarns hanging freely on hooks. This allows the twist to spread evenly through the yarn so that any over-spun or under-spun areas can correct themselves.

It is also best to give yarns a few days after the twist has set just to be sure that it is stable and ready to use.

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