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Did You Know You Can Fix Slubs While Plying?

Have you ever spun a yarn with mild slubs or a few neps in it? Sure, we all have. Generally speaking, most folks tend to say that if you don’t want those in your yarn, make sure they don’t go in while you’re spinning your singles. And that’s fine! That definitely makes sure they aren’t there. But on the other hand, sometimes I’m spinning with a technique that doesn’t lend itself to stopping to pick out a minor problem, or where if I try to correct it during spinning of the singles, will compromise other yarn attributes I’m going for.

Plus, sometimes I’m just lazy.

The slubby, neppy spot you see above is one that I ignored while spinning long draw. Several dozen of these occurred, which isn’t uncharacteristic for spinning long draw — and I don’t like to micromanage my long draw singles because that causes them to become compressed, losing the loft and airiness that is my chief reason for choosing long draw most of the time.

Now, if I left it just as it is, a rough finishing would minimize it. But what if I want it GONE?

I ply the yarn, but don’t allow it to wind on when I encounter the slub. Holding the yarn taut, I pinch with thumbnail and fingertip, and grab the meaty middle part of the neppy slub. I pull this away from the yarn. See it coming loose?

It just comes right off — nep, excess fiber in the slub, just peeling right away, and the yarn is staying intact. In this case, since the singles are fresh, the twist in them will equalize almost immediately — it’s just like if you’d corrected the slub while you were spinning, only with a little more support in the yarn because you’re plying it.

After this has been skeined and washed, you will never be able to find this spot. Here’s a before and after, right close together, during the plying process.

And here’s the plied bobbin:

…and the finished skein.

Because it was spun long draw and then plied very firmly, and because there’s crimpy wool in there, this skein has a fair bit of elasticity. I would have lost that elasticity in places if I’d stopped to micromanage the singles (even though that is my instinct). This is still a diverse-fibered, textural skein to a degree, but it isn’t lumpy, and it took a lot less time to spin and ply than if I’d been really really nitpicky while drafting the singles.

I really enjoyed spinning this! When you get diverse fibers in a blend, and the blend is really well done, you can do a lot of interesting things and it lets you bring a lot of different spinning styles and skills to the mix. But, it can be hard to get consistency and keep interesting elements in the yarn without losing structure or inclusions. If you have worsted spinning tendencies, and are a fan of micromanaging your singles, I have to say, trying to depart from that a bit is incredibly eye-opening. There are lots of yarns where you want slight imperfections, but yet to have a consistent yarn — tweeds are a great example. You don’t want your tweedy bits to just fall out. Then, too, the things you can learn by practicing a blend with inclusions extend to drafting skills you can use to get smooth, even yarn out of blends where fibers are really different from each other (like silk, which is long stapled, blended with cashmere, which is fluff, and if you simply spin it with old-school worsted draws, that’s when you run into the problem some folks mention about having all the silk pull out while the cashmere stays in your hand).

The absolutely delightful batts I spun for this yarn came from Enchanted Knoll Farms, and were a gift from Amy.

17 thoughts on “Did You Know You Can Fix Slubs While Plying?

  1. Abby, I’m not a spinner so I hardly understood a thing you just said, but the results look marvelous. It just feeds my desire to want to someday learn how to spin. Do you ever come to the central Jersey area? I would be interested in getting more info on classes you teach. By the by, do you ever barter? I’m a Very Good massage therapist (toss out of bait). Lol, Karen

  2. A very very useful post. Thank you!

  3. I did not know…. and I am ever so thankful for the enlightenment! yipee!

  4. Abby, when you first posted the pictures I thought you were talking about your “lovely adorable” kitten. That was until I actually looked at them!

  5. What a cool trick! I’m a beginning spinner trying to get the hang of long-draw. I have a few more than a dozen of these slub spots in my yarn. *ahem* You can bet I’ll be trying this next chance I get.

  6. I’m glad to know that you get lazy at times too! I recently finished an Enchanted Knoll batt too and love the resulting yarn.

  7. Thanks for showing this technique. I usually spin long draw and had no idea that you could fix it like that in plying. I’m definitely going to give it a try next time instead of fiddling with the singles.

  8. Thanks, that was really informative. I have a bit of fiber that I got from a certain place and it isn’t always well prepared. I’ve been leaving a lot of the slubs in because, like you said you don’t want to stop every time. I’m excited to try this in the plying. I also really loved the post about your mom.

  9. bewetiful.

  10. Yay! I’ve been doing this, but afraid that I might be compromising the integrity of the yarn and creating weak spots. Nice to know it’ll be ok. 🙂

  11. You have answered my frustration and shown me the way! Those little slubs that get by (I’m lazy too) will be a thing of the past! Whoot! Thank you, thank you!
    And that yarn makes me want to spin and spin.

    Btw, we were watching a show on PBS (photography) and they were in Cusco, on their way to a jungle preserve. Thought of you immediately.

  12. Ah, brilliant! This is exactly what I did over the weekend when I found slubs in my singles. Glad to know I was on the right track! 😀

  13. Hey Cool!!

    You mean I was doing something right that I figured out on my own by accident??

    That’s just cool.

  14. As a lazy spinner myself, I love this post! Well done.

  15. Oh so handy! I wish I had known this earlier – what I am spinning right now is horribly neppy. I’m too spoiled by your fiber. I’m plying the icky neppiness now, so any that I see will be treated with Abby Wisdom. I bow to you.

  16. Can’t wait to try out the slub removal technique! Thanks!

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