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“It’s not like yer fightin’ a bushfire, ya know! Ya can put it down!”

These were Dad’s words of wisdom when, after days of spinning assiduously at the painted batt that I brought with me to Kilcowera for the holidays, I lamented the lack of a good plying spindle.

Sourkraut spindle, SDspins batt and plying balls in progress.

You see, the sourkraut beauty you see above was a joy to spin on, truly. But I have a couple of wonderful spindles for plying, ones that I know and trust for the job, and ones that I could conceivably have gotten 50g or even the full 100g of yarn plied onto. My adorable (and adored) replica qashqai, gifted to me by the inconceivably talented Janet, who is one of my fibre-craft idols; or perhaps the relatively new-to-me replica Andean Grizzly Mountain Arts bottom-whorl, which just always makes me think of “The Little Engine That Could”; or maybe my stunning Forrester “North Country” top-whorl, which reminds me of the pony my sister had when we were kids – willing, brave, kind and at heart, a teacher (that spindle taught a knitter to be a spinner, once…).

But here I am, thousands of kilometres from home and with only the three spindles I had brought with me. There was nothing for it. Once I had those two plying balls wound, wild horses couldn’t keep me from plying this yarn, so I resolved to make little skeins, and ply on the sourkraut.

I’m a staunch fan of plying balls for spindle-spun singles, but I don’t like winding multi-stranded plying balls. I can never get the tension right, and end up with nasty unevenly plied yarn. So I prefer to pop my little single-stranded balls into small drawstring bags, suspend the bags from my (“fibre-hand”) wrist, and use the drawstrings as tensioners. My mum was good enough to take a series of photos to illustrate the process (she took a video, too, but neither of us knew that the bloody thing wouldn’t rotate once uploaded to the computer, so it has to be watched with your head on a 90-degree angle…let me know if you want to see it and I’ll upload it anyway).

Rough, handmade drawstring bags for plying.

A plying ball in each bag, the singles come out and are attached as normal to the spindle.

Pull gently and evenly on the singles to get a length for plying

Start the spindle, in the opposite direction to the spinning direction, of course. A thigh roll gets faster spin than a flick.

Plying goes fast if you let out a good wingspan length each time.

Four plying sessions, four filled spindles and two days later, I had four squishy, gorgeous, and surprisingly even little skeins. And my plying balls? I had approximately four metres of singles more on one than the other. I mean, it just doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

No, I don't know the weight or yardage yet. Get off my back!

Obligatory gratuitous macro shot.

I can’t wait to knit something with this yarn!