A few weeks ago I went to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and the lovely people of Natural Born Dyers taught me stick spinning. Cheap, portable, easy – I was hooked! Whilst I’d never handspin anything other than luxurious natural fiber (it’s easy but slow, spending a week spinning acrylic yarn I could buy for £1 seems like a false economy to me!) I did soon start to think about my stash of scraps and odd balls of acrylic.
I hit upon the idea of plying together disparate balls of acrylic into something new and it was surprisingly effective! The only difficulty is in “setting the twist” – that is to say, making sure the disparate yarns didn’t separate once taken off the spurtzleur (that’s the name of the tool used in the video below, go to http://www.naturalborndyers.com if you want to find out how to buy one).
The easiest way to set the twist is to wind the newly plied yarn onto a holder (toilet or kitchen roll tubes work well for this) and leave it to sit, twisted onto the roll, for as long as possible. I’ve left the sample below for a week, now, and the twist is set, but quite loose. Another week would probably be best.
This heat-free method keeps the two yarns’ textures as they were beforehand, and produces an airier fabric, that I imagine would be warmer and squishier than the next method.
The quicker, but more dangerous, way to set the twist is to full it with heat and soap – as you would natural fiber, but at a higher heat. This is done by carefully skeining up the newly plied yarn and submerging it in hot, soapy water, then scrubbing it and swilling it about quite vigorously in the water. Then, plunge it into cold water. Finally, wrap it in a towel, beat the wrapped skein against a wall or other sturdy object for a minute or two, then hang it up to drip dry.
This results in slightly squeaky but perfectly useable yarn – those who dislike the feel of acrylic mightn’t appreciate a jumper made of this, but for me it just feels like budget yarn.
Video tutorial for plying:
And photos of heat fulled yarn plied with this method: