Posted by: mick | September 22, 2008

Navajo Plying

I’ve been slowly working my way through the Mohair/Romney fiber that I showed you a few weeks ago.  What really drew me to this particular batch of fiber were the colors: it’s got this vibrant, acidic purple and a really lovely, bright goldenrod, with little bits of teal and pink for good measure.  While I was really happy with the yarn I originally spun from it in terms of evenness and weight, I was a little disappointed in the color.  It ended up kind of muddy from all of the colors spinning together as singles and then plying onto each other, lending the yarn a heathered look.  While I’ve grown to love it, it reminds me a little of the indistinct color of dryer lint.  I knew I could do better.

I’ve been hearing about Navajo or Chain plying since well before I learned to spin, and I always thought it produced lovely results.  It didn’t make sense to me when I read about it, though.  How the heck do you ply the single with itself twice?  Then, I stumbled upon this video.

I must be a visual learner, because I sat down with my single bobbin and was plying immediately, and even got up to a really good speed.  Rexenne’s tutorial is very clear, and I love that she not only breaks it down into tiny steps, but also shows you the process in gradually increasing speed.  Plus, the music is rad.

So I plied no problem, Navajo style.  I couldn’t see that much of a difference in the yarns, though, and so I tried something new with my next single.  I was sure to separate the colors as closely as possible during the pre-drafting phase, which was really easy due to the fiber’s prep.  They came apart pretty much on their own.  After Navajo plying that bobbin, I really do love the technique.  Here are the two hanks of yarn, side by side for comparison.

I love that you can really see the vibrant gold and the deep purple.  While the yarn at top is still pretty in my eyes, I’m very sold on the hank at bottom as well.  I’ve been wanting to knit up a Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl ever since seeing Octopusknits’ GORGEOUS handspun version, and I bought some merino/silk roving at the Fiber Festival for this purpose.  I love the subtle stripes in her version, and definitely wanted to not only spin the yarn for mine, but also learn to preserve the color shifts as much as possible.  I’m going to keep practicing this technique, as you can see that the hank above is a little overspun, but overall I’m sold on the technique.  I think I’ll spin up some of the stripey version as well as some of the heathered version, and maybe use them together or separately for some interesting effects.  Either way, love love love this color even more now that I see it separated out.  It just sings.



  1. Oooh, it looks awesome! I have read about Navajo plying and it makes no sense to me, but maybe if I watch some more videos it will click. I can’t wait to see you knit up one of those Feather and Fan shawls!

  2. i absolutely love that color!. you really are doing a fantstic job.

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