Navajo Plying

Every once in a while I start to worry that there must be lots to do before we go away. I have been spinning to make that feeling go away. There is now a reasonable pile of relatively thick turquoise yarn. I’m not sure my thicker yarn is even yet but it is getting better. Yesterday, I decided to spin some more of the orange stuff on the lighter spindle about the weight I was getting before all this desire for thick yarn and then try navajo plying. I’d looked up information last week. Here’s what I wrote then

But then I was reading this (scroll down to the bit about the wool for Joe’s gansey) and I thought, “3 ply. Maybe I need 3 ply.” It had never occured to me. But once it did, I then recalled that Stephanie had posted about navajo plying a while ago. So I googled. Top tip. You get interesting links if you google ‘navaho ply’ but a very frustrating nothing if you do a site specific search for ‘navaho’ on This is because Stephanie, quite correctly, spells it ‘navajo’. Believe it or not, I took Spanish for 3 years in University.

Here are some of the sites I found. There are even little video clips.

With a spindle (useful because that is what I have; I like the tip about the andean bracelet on the wine bottle because I have those, too. I’m assuming full but not open for weight without danger of wine on the carpet.)

with useful audio (useful because a nice bossy voice often helps)

no video but lots of photos

The last 2 were linked from Stephanie’s post and, like her post, are done on a wheel. I’m going to have to try this to see how it works with a spindle. I’m thinking perhaps off the lighter spindle and onto the heavier one will work. Must go dig out a shoe-box and put some holes in it to turn the spindle into a lazy kate (or have I completely misunderstood what a lazy kate does?).

I did indeed wind off the lighter spindle and ply with the heavier one. My first try I just held the spindle between my feet which worked reasonably well but was a bit frustrating. Ted had suggested (in the comments?) that with a spindle you could stop the spindle to make the next chain and then spin again. I did this a bit but it was actually quite easy to get a rhythm going. You need to hold the strand up so that it is maintaining the tension on the loop but you can fudge it by not removing your thumb until the last minute.

For the second skein I went and found a shoebox, cut some grooves in the edges to hold the spindle and had that on the floor at my feet. There are moments when the upward pull on the yarn lifts the spindle instead of unwinding it (mostly at the ends where it gets stuck a bit) and the pressure broke the yarn a couple of times but mostly that worked better. I had a real rhythm going with the chains and could even pay attention to CSI while I did it. There are a couple of uneven spots where the tension on the loop got relaxed too soon and I didn’t redo it.

I am really happy with the results. As Ted also said in the comments, it is a lot of spinning per length of yarn but it looks nice. And it keeps the colour blocks of the dyed roving. So if you want a yarn with blocks of colours (insted of all the colours mixed together for a heathery effect), this is the way to go. Well, I suppose you could ply from two bobbins and have the colours match up. That will be an experiment for another day.


One thought on “Navajo Plying

  1. My brain turns to toast when I try to understand this. Those pictures helped me NOT ONE BIT. I do want to learn it someday, but apparently I’m not ready yet.


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