And now I have a limp

This was the weekend for catching up. Last week I took a serious look at where I was in the Tour de Fleece and I realized… It’s not good. I’m behind. Not a little behind, not slightly behind. Seriously behind. I’m the Wim Vansevenant of the Tour de Fleece. Wim is contending this year to be the first ever guy to be the Lanterne Rouge three times in the Tour de France – if he can maintain his position, that is. In the Tour, apparently it’s better to be dead last than second last. The last guy gets a title. He is the Lanterne Rouge. (I admit, part of the charm of this maybe that I quite like the idea of being the “Red Lantern”, perhaps because of some youthful association with “The Green Lantern- who has great jewellery and superpowers.) The second last guy? Nobody cares.

I love this idea. If you’re going to fail, darn it all, why not be the best failure you can be. Why be in the middle when you could be the very last guy in the peloton. Everybody remembers the extremes, and there’s really something to be said for hauling it up in last place without quitting. There’s a certain dignity in it – failure or not… but I figured (while realizing that I’m definttly in the running for the Lanterne Rouge) that there’s no dignity in failure without effort. It has to be an honest last place, not a deliberate one, and to that end, this weekend I spun my little heart out, though all I have to show for it is singles.

It is my understanding that it’s a good practice to let singles “rest” on the bobbin, at least overnight, before plying them, and I don’t mind that. Usually I spin the singles the day before, the ply in the morning and then start that day’s crop of singles. This time something happened, not sure what, but I just never got around to plying. There’s two bobbins of this,


a bobbin of that,


and a bobbin of something else.


Clearly I need to have a plying party, before I run out of bobbins. If I sit down and ply my little heart out I’ll be soundly rewarded with another huge leap forward in the game. Does anybody know why you should let singles rest? Does it make it easier to ply? What happens if you don’t? Is it too hard? Could I just be plying as I go with no rest phase? Who decides how long is long enough? Does everybody do this? A thousand questions…

All of which may have to wait to be answered, because I sure would like to wear that Flow tank top to the thing at the Vaughan Library tomorrow.. and I’ve got a bunch of it left to knit.

PS. As far as I know, there’s no baby for Megan yet.

142 thoughts on “And now I have a limp

  1. Wow! I’ve never been first!
    Sorry I can’t help you with your plying questions. I am still in awe of all you spinners and what you do. Still thinking about trying it myself one day.
    Spin on!

  2. First? Holy cow! I love the name Lanterne Rouge too, very raffish and spy sounding. Don’t know anything about spinning and singles and that other pre-yarn stuff, but it all sure looks pretty.

  3. I know nothing about spinning, but I can’t see why yarn would need to rest.
    I was sure there was going to be a baby today! Maybe you need to finish your tank top, and then it will come?

  4. I have never worried about the resting part. I have some very odd yarn because of my laxity in the specifics department, but if I have a good singles I haven’t seen a difference in the stuff that rested and the pro active yarn. I think a principle of be happy with your yarn is more important than rules. This could explain the skein of stuff I chose to call an active boucle.

  5. I have no idea why you’re supposed to let the singles rest overnight, or however long- I never do. Or at least I never do on purpose- I ply immediately after spinning, if I’m in the mood and have the time. I’m apt to spin, ply, wash, and then knit the next day. Never had any problems doing it that way.

  6. I’ve plyed right away for years, with no ill effects. It could be that if ones singles are high twist, they’re hard to control until they’ve rested. Certainly singles that have been spun for a while go “dead” until the twist is revived by water. I’d try plying right away, and see if it works for you.

  7. I’m a self-taught spinner so no one ever told me not to ply my singles right away…
    In my experience if you let the singles sit for awhile they’re happier with their own twist and more co-operative (personify my fiber? never…)
    Plying them without letting them rest is the spinning equivelent of knitting the yarn without setting the twist first.

  8. I’m only a very new spinner, but those bobbins look like a lot of singles to me. And I have no idea about letting them rest, although it seems to me that since you aren’t setting the twist or steaming them or anything like that, it really shouldn’t matter.
    I hope (for her sake) that Megan’s baby comes soon!

  9. Supposedly, the purpose of letting the single rest on the bobbin is to help the twist to set. Of couse, I’ve never tested NOT letting it rest, because mine always manages to rest for way more than overnight (months in some cases).

  10. I saw a spinning wheel, live in person for the first time last week. It scared me. Kudos to you for working that machine!
    I also thought I would tell you that your chapter on sweaters in Knitting Rules! inspired me to take on my first sweater (really a cardigan). I’ll thank you if it works out (if it doesn’t, I’m sending a sleeve with an intarsia acorn on it to your can have it).

  11. I let my singles rest just cause I’m a slow spinner and by the time I get around to plying, my singles have had a nice long rest. Other than that I don’t pay much attention to rules. also, my hubby always said if you can’t be first then be dead last — the only two people anyone remembers are the one who finished first, and the one who brought up the rear. Good luck with that!

  12. Me, I just ply away home. If it makes a difference, it likely wouldn’t be one that anybody else could ever remotely discern.
    Beautiful singles, can’t wait to see them all grown up.

  13. At West Point he’s called The Goat and is applauded by all (and as you say, no one cares who came in next to last.) Trick seems to be to become The Goat without flunking out altogether. (I believe Pickett of Pickett’s Charge was The Goat of his class.)
    I seriously doubt that I’m sufficiently finely calibrated to tell the difference between a well-rested yarn and a hot-to-ply.

  14. I read in Spin Off that it is best to let the singles sit to set the twist and a week later talked with spinners at the NH S&W who told me to ply away so my view is to ply when you get to it! I have three children and if I waited for one night it may be waiting for weeks!! Beautiful singles- they will catch you up quick.

  15. I don’t know about spinning, but I do seem to remember that at Annapolis the lowest ranking, grade wise, member of the graduating class gets a dollar from every classman above him/her! That can’t be so bad.
    Maybe as Lantern Rouge you should be rewarded with “rouge” pre-yarn fleece.

  16. I love that! I’ll be the Lantern Rouge in my field any time! And although I know nothing about spinning, I would imagine that it might take a little time for the yarn to ‘air-bloom’–find it’s true texture, unspring a little from the trauma of being strangled, folded, and mutilated. But, again, I take my yarn pre-spun.

  17. I understand the theory of letting the singles sit, but as people keep commenting to the effect of “well, I’ve never had a problem”, I’d say go right ahead and ply ’em when you’ve got ’em!

  18. My son found out about the last place “winner” in road rally racing. His first race, he came in next to the last. The last place racer gets the POR Trophy. (Press On Regardless).
    Sometimes I feel like that in my knitting endeavors.

  19. I love the idea of being proudly last. And remember, it’s not a failure if you enjoyed doing it! Lovely singles, by the way. My singles always “rest” simply because I never have the oomph to ply them on the same day they’re spun.
    How’s the weather in Toronto? Any break from the heat yet? Here in Kansas it’s 104F (that’s 40C) and that’s not even counting the humidity, it’s actual degrees. Birds are bursting into flame in midair.

  20. Maybe that applies to singles when you’ve let one sit for a while and the other is fresh?
    I love that you’re concerned with the Red Lantern and all your singles are reddish.

  21. Dare one hope, then, that you’ve already procured the camisole you’ll be wanting to wear under the Flow top?

  22. Sorry Stephanie, I’m going to be the Lanterne Rouge!
    I’m new at this spinning thing and am working on a spindle, but when I plyed a single over the weekend without letting it rest I had a lot of back spinning. I think that’s what its called when you get those corkscrew thingies in the single as it comes off my untensioned lazy kate.

  23. I think it’s part “easier to ply” (less kinky) and part “even out the quietude of the twist,” to coin a phrase; if one was spun yesterday and one ten minutes ago, better to have ’em both a little more flattened than one calm and one highly energized.
    Not that it really matters once you wash, but I bet it makes it easier to keep them even during plying.

  24. They do this at West Point Millitary Academy as well. The person with the MOST Demarets that still graduates gets a prize….I can’t remember what it is called

  25. I’ve heard the ‘let them rest’ theory too, and if I have a batch of particularly angsty singles (all twisty and emo, you see), I’ll let them sit overnight to help the plying go a bit more smoothly. But in all honesty, I haven’t been able to tell a difference between the eventual yarn from “rested” versus “freshly spun” singles.
    Of course, I’m usually spinning late at night and when I’m finally done with my singles at 2:30am, I’m too tired to ply at that point anyway. So we both end up resting regardless.

  26. “Birds are bursting into flame in midair.”
    Hahaha – good one Violet. That’s exactly what it’s been like in NYC the past week. (Except add pavement so hot the bottom of your flip flops melt a little every time you cross the street.)

  27. I’ve plied both ways. I find that sometimes I don’t put enough twist in if I ply after a bit of a wait. When I soak it afterwards, it ends up looking loose s the singles re-energize.
    My birthday’s Friday. It’s a good day to be born, but, then again, so’s today, and Megan would probably prefer that.

  28. The Lanterne Rouge is a dignified spot-and so easy to lose. If the last person doesn’t finish within certain percentage of time that the leader sets, he is out of the race entirely. Subsequently, he has to work hard enough to stay in the race.

  29. There’s always a rule. There’s always a reason to break the rule. Do what works for you.
    My only race since junior high: I came in last. On skis, barely. Ignominy, totally. NO PRIZE. Nada.

  30. I love that you equate the Lanterne Rouge with childhood memories of the Green Lantern, but it’s more likely a reference to the red lantern that the Conductor holds/places on the last car of a train so one knows when the train has passed (like the noise isn’t a clue). I had to re-read as I first read and thought it was a terrible insult and not an aspitation. I’m not a spinner but admire all who do – more for me!!!
    Best wishes to LYS/LK Megan.

  31. Hmm, Yarnharlot, Lanterne Rouge, natural fit I’d think – except knowing you via blog, you’re going to try really really hard to finish higher-placed. I mean, you knit holiday gifts right up to the moment of presentation, so it’s only natural you’ll be plying at 11:59 pm on the last day.
    Good luck!

  32. Rams beat me to the Goat at West Point. I like the idea of the Laterne Rouge. If you can’t have Chemise Jaune (is that the right color for the yellow jersey), you might as well go for last.

  33. While my boys were teens we played games and the “looser” was the “winner”! This kept the peace with the testosterone overload we had going on! Good luck on completing a fabulous loss!

  34. OOPs – I used arrows not ditto marks and the gods that rule deleted why I had to re-read – I first read “Latrine Rouge”. OOPs!!

  35. Can’t imagine you, Stephanie, as last in anything fibre-related, but Lanterne Rouge is a catchy name.
    Years ago at a multi-class, 24-hour, sports car race, I saw a little label on the dashboard of a little MG-B. The driving team and pit crew were comprised of only two men. The label said, “FINISH”.
    ‘Nuff said. Spin and ply on. Your results are lovely.

  36. There is a blog devoted to those who came in dead last at the Olympics: “because they’re there and you are not.” No post as to whether they’ll be doing Beijing, but it is a remarkably cheerful celebration of the also-ran. Maintained by a Canadian, naturally!

  37. Don’t injure yourself…falling off the bike (or whatever implement you use…) is worse than coming in last….

  38. question for you. are any of these bobbins going to be applied the the fabled gansey?

  39. I’ve done both – plied immediately after spinning and plied after a “rest” (okay… it was an extensive hibernation of the Frankenyarn). I liked the plied immediately yarn better, but then that was only the second try at spinning, so I’m really no help. I had not heard that the singles should rest first.
    I think Lanterne Rouge is a fabulous distinction. It makes one think of cabooses (caboosi?) and red light districts and all sorts of fun things. ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. I say active twist isn’t anything a tensioned Kate can’t take care of. Most times, as soon as I finish the last bobbin, I start plying, because plying is my favorite part. The only time I’ve really regretted not waiting was when I had very fine singles that I was trying to Navajo ply. If I put enough tension on the Kate to keep the single from kinking up on itself and wanting to make little two-ply ‘branches’ off my yarn, the singles would break. So I just had to be really careful and curse a lot, and it all worked out ok in the end.

  41. Some odd years ago, I graduated w/ over 1000 other loverly teenagers from a very large high school. Now, that is far too many kids to try to alphabetize, so the school has this loverly tradition of “Penny-Voting” for the person to be last across the stage. Its basically a popularity vote, with all of the pennies going to the class’s chosen charity. The person that is last – get a standing ovation of 1000 students because WE knew he was last – while everyone else in attendance did not.

  42. Sorry, I haven’t the slightest idea about the plying thing, although I can honestly say that I’ve had singles resting for months.
    I’m not doing well either: I haven’t even finished the first braid. Otoh I’m making some lovely blue laceweight. I guess I should pick it up to have an honest shot at the Lanterne Rouge.

  43. The old tradition for West Point Goats was that the Goat received a silver dollar from every other member of his class – so being the Goat had an upside.
    In latter years “goat” has been applied to all of those who are not academic standouts, or who collect a lot of time walking the area.
    I think it’s sad that the academy stopped officially recognizing the Goat, although the cadets all know who it is and applaud him when his name is called out. After all, managing to come in dead last while still managing to graduate requires a certain amount of both finesse and grim determination – considering that more than 20% of entering cadets don’t make it to graduation.
    And yes, I’m the daughter and the granddaughter of USMA grads and proud of both of them!

  44. I thought maybe your attraction to the “Red Lantern” had something to do with the “harlot” in you . . .

  45. Can you just imaging the two guys in the back trying to slow down for last place? They might have to just stop completely to win if they really get in a showdown. I think that’s funny!

  46. I believe the Iditarod (annual dog sled race held in Alaska) has a red lantern as well but it has a has a different significance. The red lantern is lit at the start of the race. The last musher puts out the red lantern signifying that no one was lost on the trail – everyone made it in safe and sound.

  47. guess you need to send the dog out
    to round up the sheep you need more wool
    red lanterns on the back of the caboose
    you could out to see batman finish the
    top- batman runs two and a half hours
    and stay cool
    its so hot in florida the fish come
    out of the water already deep fried

  48. Oh, do Navajo ply that last one. Those colors are beautiful.
    That looks like great spinning to me. Keep it up, Madame Lanterne Rouge!

  49. This is fascinating. You rest your singles overnight to relax them? Really?
    Mine wait for months on the bobbins sometimes. I must have the world’s most laid back yarn!

  50. I never let singles rest. It gives the yarn expectations of leisure that I’d rather not pass along, however long it ultimately may marinate in stash upon completion.
    I shouldn’t say never, because there have been bobbins I’ve left unplied for as long as… uh, well at least 2.5 years. I sent Denny one of those; it’s a merino/cashmere that I chain plied because it had started to really fill me with rage for neither plying itself nor spinning a second magical bobbin while I waited. YAY, that one’s gone and not my problem anymore!
    But, okay, seriously. You don’t have to let them rest. In fact if you do, it’s harder to avoid underplying. However, some folks find it easier to handle singles if they’ve rested and twist has gone dormant (the very same thing that tricks people into underplying a lot), and they’d rather not be dealing with singles that have a desire to kink up at all.
    However, if you can put them on a lazy kate which is, say, arm’s distance behind you or so, or one that feeds on an angle like the one Judith has that she takes to workshops? Ply whenever. Though if they’re very delicate and you plan to chain ply, then unless you’re a chain-plying ninja who never misses a beat, you may find the staler, rested singles are easier to wrangle.
    As for me, I still hope to solve my plying problems by hornswoggling my kid into plying, but it hasn’t worked yet. Dammit.
    P.S. You’re not even remotely in the running for last. Sorry. But at least you aren’t second last either.

  51. Supposedly, unrested singles are hard to control. That said, I have been plying my unrested singles for many years. ๐Ÿ™‚ I find that plying right away with the resting helps me solve some of my own underplying problems – I can much more easily see (and more importantly, feel) the alignment of the fibers when they are fresh – they aren’t settled into the overspun state of unplyed singles yet, and the active twist will flow into the two-ply more easily, in my opinion.

  52. Attacking the problem from what I thought was logical, I would ply immediately because you want the yarn to be ‘whole’ and the hooks in the wool would be locked together without forming so much in the way of different plies. Would the rested plied wool be more splitty?
    I haven’t spun for about 20 years though.
    Then once the wool is skeined and washed this ‘sets the twist’ and you are a step closer to the finished article.

  53. The idea of letting your singles rest before plying them is that the liveliness of the twist will have settled down a bit, making plying easier. This makes the most difference when you’re dealing with one bobbin you spun months ago, while another is freshly spun; if you don’t let the fresher bobbin sit for at least a few days, the two singles will seem to have different amounts of twist, making it difficult to ply them evenly.
    Given that you’ve spun them all recently, they’ll have about the same amount of twist. You might as well go ahead and ply them the same day.

  54. Beautiful singles!
    When I looked at all those bobbins of singles, my first thought was “Wow, she’s got a lot of bobbins! I really envy her!”
    If you spin two bobbins of singles fairly quickly, I would say that it’s all right to ply them right away. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. The singles will still be lively, the twist will not start to set, and you’ll be able to see easily if you’re plying a balanced yarn.
    If you’ve got a bobbin that’s been sitting for a few days, and a bobbin that you’ve just finished, it’s possible that letting it sit will allow it to become more consistent, i.e., the twist will start to set and be more like the singles you spun on the first bobbin. So, in that case, I guess waiting might contribute to consistency.
    But you can ply balanced yarn by stopping and checking it every once in a while. If it’s balanced, you’ll see the angle of each ply diagonally across the yarn, but the actual FIBERS in the individual plies will run parallel to the yarn.
    Go find some balanced yarn and check it out.

  55. As others have stated, the theory behind not plying right after spinning the singles is to avoid a squirrely yarn that does weird and unexpected things due to the twist put in during spinning. The same holds true with allowing the plied yarn to “rest” on a niddy noddy overnight (or so) before removing and setting the twist in hot water. If you try to knit with freshly spun/plied yarn, particularly if there is too much twist, the finished item can slant right or left (depending on an over abundance of S or Z twist). The darned stuff is called “energized” singles or yarn. Someone (Katherine Alexander?) has done articles in Spin-Off about using energized yarn. I try not to anger the spinning gods, and adhere to their rules of the universe by allowing singles and plied yarns to rest before proceeding to the next step.

  56. Since I know nothing about spinning, but a lot about baking:
    When making a pie, you let the dough rest before rolling it out, to let the gluten relax, so it won’t fight the rolling process. Could the crimp in the little scheep’s hairs relax and get comfortable during its overnight rest, like the proteins in the wheat?
    You could try plying fresh, unrested singles, and see whether they fight the rolling out, er, plying process.
    I love the colors you’re working with.

  57. I saw Megan strolling along Bloor Street today so I’d venture that no, still no baby!

  58. Oh there’s a baby – just one who doesn’t get messy diapers – YET!
    Great colours btw.

  59. Remember that the student who graduates at the bottom of the class from medical school is still called “doctor”.

  60. Oops i don’t recall reading anywhere about the resting business. My goal for tdf is to spin two half bobbins of my romney a day and ply them..which i’ve managed to do everyday so far. Now i’m a bit worried that the finished yarn will self destruct or something…it seems fine?

  61. Well, I know you are supposed to let a turkey or a pot roast rest for 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven before you carve it (being cooked is a tiring experience, I guess); but it beats me how that applies to “singles.”
    Plus, you’re a vegetarian; so maybe that analogy is even less helpful than it appears.

  62. I always figured the “rest” was to set the twist a bit. Which I always have, in my spinning career. It also keeps me from feeling guilty about taking so long to finish spinning my singles, so I’m all for that.

  63. On a spindle, it always seems to work better if I can ply immediately. Since I have the attention span of a gnat, this doesn’t happen *often*. But when it does, I’m always much happier with the yarn.
    (and no, letting it sit has no effect on how splitty the yarn is… if it is splitty, I didn’t beat the yarn up enough when I finished it. Must try harder next time!)

  64. On the yarn, as long as you know how much twist it needs in the plying, do as you please. The only time I’ve really had trouble with plying fresh singles is when I made a center pull ball and plied off both ends. Something happened and my thumb wasn’t holding the middle of the ball sufficiently well – things got ugly. It’s more likely to happen with really fine yarn. Have fun with it!

  65. That’s a whole heck of a lot of singles. On the resting front, I think I recently read (in Judith McKenzie McCuin’s book, maybe?) that it can help to let more delicate, low-twist singles rest so there’s less chance of them breaking apart when plying? That said, I usually just ply mine when I can, whether rested or not.

  66. On some blog or other (I apologize, but I’ve just finished going through Criminy Jickets’ blogroll – it took a week), there is a technique for plying while you are still spinning!

  67. I have never let the yarn rest before plying. (Well, one bobbin – yes while I am spinning the 2nd.) I think the more important point is to ply both bobbins with the scales of the wool going the same direction. That means you shouldn’t ply the start and finish of ONE bobbin. My info is from Judith McKenzie McQuin, my favorite spinning teacher of all times!!
    I love you colours. You must be having a good time having “permission” to take the time to spin all that stuff.

  68. my mum has been spinning for 35+ years and she told me to ALWAYS ply your yarn off right away. She said that leaving the yarn on the bobbin stretches it and messes with the tension. I don’t think it would affect the yarn either way really.
    maybe this whole ‘to ply or not to ply’ thing is sort of like that story about the lady who cuts off the ends of her ham for her first easter supper on her own. Her friend asks her why and she says she does it because her mum did. So she asks her mum and her mum says she did it because her mum did. So they ask grandma and grandma says she did it because her pan was too small.

  69. I love your singles and they will be gorgeous when plied. But I have to wonder, when did you start with the 1970’s appliance color theme? Or was this all purchased during your “Violet Period”???

  70. No help on the spinning, but I also like the idea of the prize for the dead last. It’s hard to keep going when you feel like everyone else is waiting for you to finish up so they can get on with it. It deserves a prize for sure.

  71. In my limited experience, it makes almost no difference to let them rest UNLESS you are navajo plying. Then a rest of at least 12 hours does seem to make it go more smoothly. I have heard that you can’t really get ‘stale” singles by leaving them on the bobbin for too long because, the moment they hit water, they remember they are supposed to be fluffy and return to their natural state. I think setting the twist is, ultimately, the most important part of making yarn, after actually spinning it.
    I am working my way through my pile, but I won’t get cocky yet…

  72. “but plying will be much easier and less frustrating if you let the singles rest overnight to stabilize the twist” start spinning by maggie casey
    i let mine rest because i follow directions ๐Ÿ™‚

  73. “Does anybody know why you should let singles rest?”
    I only have a smarty-pants answer… so the spinner has time to drink beer/wine/martinis/etc.?

  74. Thanks for the Megan update, I think about her frequently throughout the day. Thanks for asking all the timing questions about that fuzzy grey area that happens between spinning singles and plying. Thanks for inspiring me to order 8 gorgeous, warm brown ounces of camel/merino, even though I really had quite enough fiber already. And last but not least, thanks for inspiring me to haul my spinning wheel to the machine shop to reseat the bearings. It was especially nice because I never expected to go to a machine shop and find out the man working on my wheel grows flax to donate to a local historical plantation. Oh, and the repair was free! Makes me want to knit him a hat.

  75. I knew I was going to comment on something and then read all the other comments and forgot. It’s too damn hot out.
    Let them rest so you have an excuse to finish the tank top.
    But yes, chiming in with rams: limp?

  76. My theory? The Lanterne Rouge is a darned sight further ahead than all those millions of people who didn’t even compete. For example, he will beat the pants off of me, even if he is dead last. As will you.

  77. Well I have some singles that should be *quite* well rested by now… (a few months worth, I think). Now the challenge is to figure out how much I will have to let the other two plies (which have not actually been spun yet) rest before I can ply them with my one bobbin of comatose, possibly quite flaccid, singles.
    This is probably one of those things where there opinions/beliefs on both sides with logical reasoning behind each. I know a woman who marks her skeins after she plies them because she says there is a proper end to start knitting from. And I thought I was fussy.

  78. You know, why not just leave them as is and use them as singles? That way, you can still meet your goal. I see some lovely laceweight there…
    Oh, and Rams? You were correct about George Pickett being the Goat of his class (and in case you were wondering, McClellan was #2).

  79. I’m sure someone already answered up above but I don’t have time to read all the comments, more’s the pity.
    But you let the singles rest to temporarily set the twist enough that they don’t twist back on themselves while you’re plying. I also do this myself so that both of my bobbins (the one from yesterday and the one from today) are more alike, not one active twist and one set, so that the plying is more predictable. Sometimes if I’m Andean plying I just let ‘er rip, though!

  80. The person who comes in last place in the Iditarod Sled Dog race receives the Red Lantern award too. Must be common reward for last place in a gruelingly long race! Dogs, bikes, doesn’t matter – they are both hellishly long races!

  81. My father had a college friend who had two goals – marry wealthy and graduate last in the class. As the story is told, the former is simple – date only rich women. The latter is difficult – you do have to do well enough to stay in school ๐Ÿ™‚ As I recall, the gentleman succeeded on both counts.

  82. Once I was in a bowing league and we finished in last place. Yes, we did try to do better. And yes, it was better than finishing second to last.

  83. I agree with Abby. I prefer to ply when the twist is still live because the ultimate character of the yarn is obvious. IOW, WYSIWYG. With live twist, you’ll tend to add just the right amount of plying twist to make a balanced yarn.
    With sleepy twist, the yarn is rather dead and the twist in the individual plies won’t come into play until you wash or steam the plied yarn. Thus, it’s easy to under- or overtwist the plied yarn.
    The drawback? If you’re spinning a huge batch of singles for a project where consistent twist and grist are important, it’s best to spin ALL the singles on the same bobbin and wind them onto storage bobbins in a continuous go over a few days, then adjust the wheel accordingly and do all the plying at once. UNLESS you have one wheel for spinning and another for plying, in which case no adjustments would be necessary and you can bounce over to the plying wheel when you’ve filled a few bobs with singles.
    To manage live twist in a singles so you don’t end up with corkscrews everywhere (and a short temper), use some rubber bands to brake or retard the unwinding of the singles from the bobbins on your kate.

  84. Oh yeah. So this question just came up again elsewhere, and I totally remembered that I forgot to list an exception, which since you’re a woolen spinner you might care about. If you have fine, delicate woolen singles from a short stapled fiber, an overnight rest can also help.
    But, generic wool singles? Fair game IMO.

  85. We play this dice game in my family called Farkle. The winner (most points) has to do a little dance and the loser (fewest points) also has to do a little dance. My goal in life is to score zero points which we call “the perfect game”. Why we call the art of losing completely the perfect game is beyond me. From now on I will call it the lanterne rouge.
    BTW, it was so hot and miserable here in Memphis today that we saw only 1 squirrel and 2 birds at our 4 feeders.
    Yarn pretty. Me like.

  86. I learn so much from your blog! All the responses about letting singles rest (or not, and why) are fascinating and funny as all get-out. The limp, though? Is it from spinning? Did the singles (lovely colors, by the by) wrap themselves around and trip you? Bobbin accident?

  87. Me again. Knittripps at 8:49 probably means bowling league instead of bowing league but this conjurs up all kind of images of competitions, all involving Monty Python characters. How badly do you have to bow to lose? Thanks for the chuckle, Knittripps.

  88. Looking forward to seeing a picture of the completed tank top. Her patterns are so unique and I always want to make them all-but have yet to make any since I am totally intimidated by her techniques. So, I guess so far I only collect her patterns. Maybe if I see a completed project it will spur me on to try . Her new fall patterns all look so cool.

  89. STILL no baby? Goodness…I hope it comes soon! As for the plying, I have wondered about the “resting” myself, so please share if you find out some good info! I know (probably because you’ve mentioned it) that singles left a long time on the bobbin will bias less when knit as singles, but I don’t know why having less of that energy is helpful for plying. Spinning is mysterious stuff sometimes.

  90. Usually I’d let mine rest just because I have a spindle and I have to do SOMETHING with the other singles while I spin up a new batch. But today I was really on a roll and I managed to spin an ungodly amount (for me. About 2 oz of lace weight silk) and got in a hurry and plied it with some gorgeous merino/tencel 70/30 blend and the result looks like fairy unicorn farts. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. Also, for people who are dumb like me, it is possible to cut your hand fairly fantastically with a finely spun silk single. Just an FYI for anyone else prone to freak accidents….

  91. I think it may be to set the twist. I was taught to transfer my singles to a skein winder and spritz it with water to set the twist. I still do this and probably need to because I really over twist when I spin. weaverwoman

  92. Oh, you guys! The limp is from the spinning wheel. I don’t spin, but I believe that you have to pedal the doggone thing with one foot, leading to the aforementioned limp.
    I love the yarn on the last bobbin!
    The colors are beautiful!

  93. Lanterne Rouge? I LOVE it, didn’t know about that, either. So far I haven’t succumbed to the blandishments of spinning (I HEARD THAT, YOU OTHER HOG-AND-BLOGGERS!) (my friends keep insisting it’s only a matter of time) but I would imagine resting would allow the fibers to Become One with the Universe and therefore more amenable to plying. (Doesn’t that sound all hippie and stuff?) Maybe I’ll begin to start anticipating the possiblity of *thinking about* spinning…when I finish my Dr Who scarf.

  94. My secret to not having 500 projects at once is to limit the number of needles I am allowed to own. I think to keep you on the plying pony, don’t buy more bobbins!

  95. The red lantern – would that refer to the red light at the end of the caboose on a train – the last car?

  96. I love the whole idea of the Lanterne Rouge. The idea that someone kept to it even though they knew they would never have the chance to win. Sort of the ultimate under dog. Nifty! As for plying, I must confess that this is the first time that I’ve ever heard the you are supposed to let singles rest on the bobbin. In an ideal world, I would ply the singles as soon as I was done spinning them. Occasionally though, I’ve had singles on a bobbin for months sometimes before I get to them. For me it seems to be a little easier to ply them right away. It’s easier to know how much twist to put in. I do a sample and set the twist, and use that for a guide as I ply. If I’ve just spun the singles, the yarn is more likely to hang properly when I let it hang in a loop with out looking like it’s over or under plied. Personally, I think that if you are going to knit with singles they are always happier if you knit with them after a little rest. Unless of course you’re going to knit with energized singles like Katherine Alexander, then you spin and knit right away. So, I think the moral of the story (and my personal philosophy on spinning, dyeing, and other assorted fiber crafts) is that there are no Spinning Police. Thank God! So as long as you get the kind of yarn that you wanted, that’s as sturdy as it needs to be for the project you made it for, you’re doing it right. It might not be the fastest way, it might be a little unorthodox, but who cares, your making something lovely. So spin away Stephanie, I’m just astounded at how much you accomplish in such a short period of time. Pretty darn amazing! I don’t know how you do it!

  97. Great minds think alike. I was just using Wim Vansevenant’s efforts to urge on knitters who are flagging in the Tour de France KAL.
    As ever it is the taking part that counts and the stars aren’t always the ones who win.
    Keep spinning, Sunday is fast approaching.

  98. In Baltimore, MD, we have a race once a year called the Kinetic Sculpture Race. In this race moving art powered by people must race across land, sea and mud in pursuit of the title Grand East Coast National Mediocre Champion. This is not first or last place, but dead center. There are lots of other peculiarities and awards around the race, but the most mediocre award is my favorite.

  99. Sometimes my singles sit for a day or so and sometimes I ply immediately after spinning – I’ve never noticed a difference between the two when plying. So go ahead, Steph, ply your heart out. Plying is the best part!

  100. Sometimes mine rest way more than overnight, but sometimes I spin, ply, wash, dry and knit all in the same day. I’ve never paid attention to note if there’s a difference or not.

  101. Resting? Never done it, at least not intentionally. I like to ply all at once so if I have time right then, I do it. If not, I wait. Don’t forget you can ply from a ball and then you won’t have a bobbin crisis.

  102. I’ve done it both ways, and once the yarn is washed you can’t tell any difference. The freshly spun immediately plied yarn looks nice right away before washing, but the rested yarn looks flat, as if it had been on a cone. Washing restores it.

  103. I’m new to spinning and I plied for the first time yesterday, so take this with a grain of salt. It takes me a week to draft and spin 2 bobbins. The first bobbin had a day of rest, the second had none. So, I spun one ‘rested’ bobbin and one ‘hot’ bobbin. No difference. But my spinning reminds me of an ugly dog – the owners still love it.
    I have made a smidgeon of improvement since the start of the Tour de Fleece for which I am eternally grateful to the hostess of this event, She’s been suffering through my pictures and my sad commentaries and I’m content just to be a contender.
    Meanwhile, what’s the difference between spinning lace weight and singles?

  104. Ah yes, just like the Red Lantern in the Iditarod. A definite good effort. In the Iditarod they even try to wait for that person to get to Nome before having the banquet, although not always.
    As for letting the singles sit, it is something about the twist balancing a bit with sitting. I usually try for 24 – 36 hours for both singles and plied, although I have been known to say that overnight is like a day so can just go ahead with the plying.
    I have 3.75 ounces left out of 12 for my Tour. I hope I make it.

  105. I have usually waited to ply, but just because I never have time to do it all in one day. I have heard it is better to let the twist “set” in the singles, but aren’t we doing that when we “wet set” it afterwards? In any event, the last time I spun, I spun two bobbins and then plied it in the same day. Nothing seemed different…? Maybe the difference is so small that it doesn’t make a difference?

  106. I have never been able to let anything “rest” on the bobbin. What a novel concept! I am really appreciating your Tour de Fleece updates..

  107. Some people say to let the singles rest on the bobbin to set the twist, but this is not how setting the twist should be done. Go ahead and ply them straight away if you’ve enough yarn to do so. I don’t spin fast enough to ply straight away, but would if I spun enough. There’s nothing wrong with plying straight away or waiting, but don’t let the singles or plied yarn wait on the bobbin as a way to set the twist, that’s just misinformation, which Spin-off is really good at publishing.

  108. I’ve heard about the theory of letting singles “sleep” overnight. I do know that when I was really frustrated with some over-spun singles, I let them sit for a few days. They sat for a year and were a delight to ply.

  109. I have never made a habit of waiting to ply my singles and don’t have a problem. particularly if it helps to to continue the Tour du fleece, ply on!

  110. Well, I’ve been spinning for about 3o years now and from experience I can tell you that I don’t think it makes much of a difference. If you really overspin, letting the yarn sit a while will temporarily set the twist and make it a little easier to handle, but, and this could be a important but, after you ply and wash the yarn and the original twist pops back, you may not have plied with enough twist to balance it. Letting the singles sit overnight before plying won’t be long enough to deaden the twist but I don’t think it makes any difference either. If I feel like plying right after filling the bobbin, I do. If I feel like waiting a day or so before getting around to plying, fine and dandy. I’ve never seen a difference. Do what you want and if you like the results, it was the right way to do it. That’s one of the things I like best about spinning.

  111. Well I’m another self taught but I’ve tried to get better and this is what I’ve settled on after talking to many spinners. I don’t pay any attention to the rules unless I’m working with a fiber that I’m trying really hard to make perfect. If so, I spin my singles, then walk up it a good two feet and make a ply back to find my natural ply twist. Put that aside, leave the singles on for a day (or weeks, depending on my schedule) to let the active twist settle out. The I ply, using my sample ply back to determine the amount of twist the single needs. That’s when I’m feeling fancy which happens only once or twice a year. Otherwise, yeah I usually rest my singles just because I don’t like to fight them, but more so I rest my ply, either on the bobbin or the niddy noddy, before I set it. Gives me a nice relaxed skein.
    Woah, how’s that for too much information from a fly by night spinner?

  112. Oh, forgot to say something about setting the twist. Remember that ‘setting’ the twist both by washing or leaving the singles on the bobbin for quite a while, only temporarily sets the twist. Plying sets the twist permanently. If you let go of the yarn, it won’t come untwisted, which is what setting the twist means, although washing will re-energize the twist.

  113. Im the one who told you on an early tour de france post to let your handspun stay on the bobbins for at least 24 hours before plying, as when you then ply it you will get better balanced yarn.
    This i learnt from Majacraft – but you dont have to do what i say if you want to ply straight away by all means do so ๐Ÿ™‚

  114. Had to add this; a friend offered to wear my business’ tee shirt during a locally televised marathon. He said, “Just understand I probably won’t come in first.” I laughed & told him he had his choice; come in first, last, or trip & fall in front of the camera. And of the three, I’d prefer the last. And to any squirrel hata’s out there, my bakery makes black squirrel cookies (our favorite local/imported rodent), so the shirt has a picture of a squirrel (cookie) with its head bitten off.

  115. Leaving your singles over-night is supposed to help set the twist. Or so I’ve read. But I don’t really notice any difference. Also seeing all the beautiful stuff you are spinning is encouraging me to spin more myself.

  116. I read a lot of spinning books before I actually started, and none of the authors mentioned something like rest (the yarn) before plying. Maybe this rest thing is the reason for your underplying tendency?

  117. I ran cross-country in high school. Badly. So badly that I once started in the first race and came in last for the second race. They actually sent out a search party.
    I find it is more difficult to ply if the singles don’t rest first. They’re a little more wild if you ply right after spinning. I think the rest period allows the twist to sort of even itself out a little before plying.

  118. I’ll ditto the comments about resting helping to set the twist, though I suspect it’s only important if singles are your finished product. I’ve plied immediately upon finishing a singles bobbin with no ill effect. I’ve plied with singles that have “set” on the bobbin for a couple of months, and ended up with yarn more “kinky” than the exact same fiber plied right away.

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