Friday, November 29, 2013

Plying steam stabilized singles

I like working with steam stabilized singles.  I made a lot of them by passing singles through a steam chamber as I wound off the spinning wheel.  Steam stabilized singles are the only way I know of to make yarns with a large number (10) of very fine plies (23,000 ypp) without a big tangle.  Steamed singles are much stronger and better endure the stress of plying. And, steam stabilized singles can be handled under lower tension, because they are less likely to tangle.  Believe me,  5-ply is much easier easier if you tame the singles first.

It is only in the last few days that I thought of blocking yarn on with steam on the niddy.  This was an epiphany.  For a long time, I had wondered how cottage spinners produced hanks of  fine (23,000 ypp) singles that were stable enough to pack into saddle bags  and move by pack train to the dyer.  Now, I know.  All they needed was a niddy or two and a tea kettle.  It also gives new perspective into the tea kettles that gave Watt the idea for steam engines.  He may well have seen tea kettles putting out a blast of steam as they block yarn.

Even after the laws requiring yarn to be measured on a "weasel", the yarn could still be first blocked on a niddy. And, if you measured a hank on the niddy, the weasel would take more.

Plying twist for raw singles can be estimated by various intuitive methods.  However, estimating plying twist for steam stabilized singles must be calculated.  The math is discussed in AA's Big Book of Handspinning. The  intuitive methods will not suffice to ply steam stabilized singles into a balanced yarn.

The final yarn plied up from team stabilized singles must be steamed or it will be very unbalanced.

Or, the same DRS whorl combination used to make the singles can be used to ply the singles. This almost always works like magic.

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