Plying Ball Tutorial

How to empty a drop spindle by winding a singles into a ball for plying?

How to empty a drop spindle Wind a plying ball.  Cynthia D. Haney of Cynthia Wood Spinner made two top whorl drop spindles, in Sycamore Black Walnut and Maple, and spun the singles that are wound into two plying balls sitting on a purple background.

Step by Step Photo Guide
How to empty a drop spindle by winding a singles into a ball for plying? You also will see how to fix a slub (overly thick section of single) and get a deconstructed view of how the cop (spun yarn) was wrapped on the spindle shaft.

Baby plying ball with singles yarn in yellow red and black stripes next two a high whorl suspended spindle with a black walnut whorl on a sycamore shaft and a full cop.  On the right a second top whorl drop spindle with a full cop of the same yarn, this spindle has a sycamore whorl and a maple shaft.  All the work of Cynthia D. Haney.

Here you see two spindles, the lower one already partly emptied into a plying ball. They contain roughly equal amount of singles. I plan on making this a two ply so will wind both into plying balls.

From right a fist sized ball of singles yarn in red yellow and black, high whorl suspended spindle empty lying upside down with a black walnut whorl and a sycamore shaft;  Top whorl drop spindle in Sycamore on Maple with a full oval shaped cop of singles yarn; small felt ball with the end of the yarn from the spindle wrapped around it twice.  all the creative work of Cynthia D. Haney

The beginning: I always wind over some sort of ‘core’ for easy handling. This can be a tennis ball, a felted dryer ball, or in this case a small ball felted from scraps. First you take the end of the single out of the hook and wind it around the ball a few times overlapping the loose end. In the background you see the other spindle empty and the finished ball.

Sycamore and Maple Branch size top whorl drop spindle handmade one of a kind by Cynthia D. Haney.  Full cop of handspun singles yarn and the first wraps around a felt core for a plying ball.

Keep wrapping around whatever you are using as a core. I find it easiest to hold the spindle loosely by the shaft and let it spin in my hand as I wind.

Partly wound plying ball, branch size top whorl drop spindle made by Cynthia D. Haney of Cynthia Wood Spinner in her Virginia USA workshop.  Whorl is sycamore and shaft maple.

Continue to wind changing direction to cover more of the core. In this picture I had extra single between the spindle and ball so it pigtailed. I had finished spinning that portion the night before so the twist was still somewhat active. If you have pigtails just stretch them out until they straighten before winding into the ball.

Good view of the notch on the whorl of this drop spindle along with a plying ball being wound.  The spindle is finished to a shiny luster by Cynthia D. Haney of Cynthia Wood Spinner.  You can see a reflection on the sycamore whorl.

More progress changing direction as I wrap covering more of the core. You are aiming at a firm ball to keep the singles from being loose and getting tangled later.

Sycamore wood has neat patterns in the grain making for a beautiful side to this top whorl drop spindle hand turned by Cynthia D. Haney.  The cop of spun yarn is partly transferred to a plying ball.

Core fully covered. Just continue winding changing directions to keep it round.

As the spindle empties you can see better the cop shaping.

See the deeply hollowed whorl making for a rim weighted spinning style on this top whorl drop spindle by Cynthia D. Haney.  The spindle shaft has a decorate flare on the end and is fully handturned from maple.  Hook is a little piece of jewelry handmade from copper.  This is a OOAK one of a kind signed numbered tool.  The co of yarn is being wound into a plying ball.

About half way.

Rim weighted sycamore high whorl with a maple shaft suspended spindle notched with a handmade hook.  The cop of yarn stored on the spindle is oval, football, or pregnant shaped.  Partly transferred into the plying ball.

One benefit of winding a plying ball is the twist can even out along the single. I actually hold the spindle further from the ball as I work allowing that to happen.

Top whorl drop spindle with a notch and a cop of single being wound into a ball.  Shingle has a slub which will be corrected.

By looking over my singles I can make decisions on trouble spots such as this thick slub area. While it is fine to leave it I am going to show how I improve the consistency since this is about four times thicker than the rest.

Spindle with single running in the notch to the hook ready to be used in fixing the slub or lump or thick spot in the handspun yarn.  Learn how to master your spinning.

I bring the single on the spindle back along the notch and into the hook. My leader portion includes the problem area. The plying ball will act as my fiber supply. Since I cannot draft it thinner due to the twist I will let the spindle back spin releasing twist from the yarn. My goal is to park and draft the slub thinner before spinning the spindle to return the normal amount of twist.

Slub repair gone too far, the slub pulled completely apart so now the repair is a join not just a thinning out of the thick spot.  Using a top whorl drop spindle for the repair, made by Cynthia D. Haney

I succeeded at releasing the twist but drafted too much. So I will have to rejoin the single.

Close up of the join between the spindle and the plying ball, in this hand spun single yarn that drifted apart.

Just like any other join, I make sure each end is about half as thick as I want. I overlap being sure to pinch right at the tips of the part coming from the ball. Then I spun the spindle building up some twist and parked. I carefully released the twist into the break sliding my fingers along it as I did. This reattached it and kept from having wispy bits of fiber from the ends.

Join completed and spindle hanging from the plying ball.

Then I inspected it and made sure I had a consistent amount of twist to the rest of the spinning, so the singles matched. This looks much better than the before.

Top whorl drop spindle in sycamore and maple showing how the cop of spun yarn has been shaped on the spindle shaft for stable storage.  Plying ball almost fully wound.  Designed and taught by Cynthia D. Haney

I removed the single from the hook and resumed winding the plying ball.

High whorl suspended spindle for spinning yarn from wool fiber with most of the yarn wound into a ball for plying on the same spindle.

Getting closer.

The very beginning of winding the cop on the maple shaft of this drop spindle revealed.  The sycamore whorl has beautiful grain and the plying ball is getting full.

You can see how I build the cop shape now that the spindle is almost empty.

Success both spindles empty of their yarn which is wound into the two plying balls .  Spindles and spinning by Cynthia D. Haney of Cynthia Wood Spinner.  Branch size top whorl one ounce rim weighted drop spindles.

All wound into the plying ball.
About the pictures: this idea came to me while I was recovering from a cold so I apologize for the casual photography. The blanket for the backdrop is purple and the singles are yellow, red, and black. I corrected the color as best as possible but focused on making sure you could see what was happening.
About the drop spindles: both are top whorl of my own creation, branch size, and part of my personal collection. The one on the bottom in the final picture has a Walnut whorl on a Sycamore shaft and weighs about 1 oz. The other one has a Sycamore whorl, with less common reddish coloring, on a Maple shaft and weighs 1 oz.
About the singles: I bought the fiber at Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair 2017 from Jehovah Jireh Woolmill the color is called Lava and is a blend of 40% Alpaca (from MI and KY), 30% Tunis wool (from PA), and 30% Corriedale (from MI) all from small flock shepherds. I spun most of it demoing in public starting the last day of that festival. The rich fall colors showed how the roving twisted into a single.

The roving that was spun for this tutorial along with the high whorl suspended spindle used for spinning one single of what will be this two ply.  Wool and alpaca fiber blend in the US spindle made in Virginia by Cynthia D. Haney of Cynthia Wood Spinner.

The roving and some of the spun singles yarn.

The spindles shown are both my Branch size Top Whorl Drop Spindles. I then ply the yarn as a two ply using a Trunk size Top Whorl Drop Spindle. I made a video on How to Ply Yarn using a drop spindle. To get a spindle like these please visit my webstore, I have a page just for spindles that are Beginner Friendly.