Rainbow Dyed Wool Roving and Navaho-plying

Thought I would post what I’ve been up to lately. In my Ravelry groups there are always some type of monthly projects going on and this month’s project for my spinning group was to spin up some Easter coloured wool and then learn how to Navaho-ply the single. The reason spinners will Navaho-ply is to preserve the colour runs that they have spun into their single (one ply yarn). So you take your roving, spin it all up into one ball and then ply it back on itself. The single thread ends up being a 3-ply yarn.

Navaho-plying is very similar to crocheting in that you pull your single through a loop but at the same time the wheel is turning adding twist. So the trick is to pull a loop, twist, pull a loop, twist. The hard part is not letting to much twist into your working threads otherwise you won’t have a loop big enough to pull more single through. The other trick is to do this in a manner that you’re not over-plying the yarn. It took me almost the entire 100 grams of single before I caught on and made an even ply. What worked for me was learning to keep the hand that grabs the single through the loop still and close to my body at the top of the plying motion. The other hand controls the plying motion of bringing the thread to and from the wheel. Kind of hard to explain but once I learned this trick my plying became smoother, looser and it was like I was doing a 2-ply motion.

Anyhow here are a few photos of the dyed roving and finished yarn. One of these days I’ll remember to take pictures while I’m dyeing the wool.

roving rainbow
Shetland top dyed with Jaquard Sky Blue, Fire red and Yellow.

rainbow single
Single ply on the bobbin.

Easter rainbow skein
Navahoe-plied in a skein.

Easter rainbow cake
Final layer cake.

It was a good learning experience this March SAL (spin along). Not only did I learn to Navaho-ply but I also learned more about dyeing wool and what happens when I spin up coloured roving. Next time I dye some roving I’ll make sure I have more of a separation between the areas of colour. I wanted to blend the colours to get some green, purple and orange but what I found was except for the blue area in the roving I lost a lot of the original colour.

I thought having a couple of inches of colour would be enough to show up in the spinning but what I found was the twist moves into the wool about four inches at a time so it’s grabbing not only the first colour but it’s pulling in some adjacent colour as well so there was a lot of blending going on. This is great if you want that effect and it was quite pretty. The thing is Navaho plying combines thread so you get a 3-ply yarn and this really blends the colours so it does muddy the colour.

My final colours in the yarn were surprising to me because I didn’t expect to get them. I thought I was going for Easter rainbow and I ended up more or less with autumn leaves and blue sky. It’s nice just not what I wanted. I think the way to spin the purest colour is most likely just grabbing coloured top and spinning up a handful of this and then switching out to a handful of that. It’s fascinating really the countless combinations of colour that can be achieved through different dyeing techniques, carding and spinning.


4 responses to “Rainbow Dyed Wool Roving and Navaho-plying

  1. Oh my, those colours are beautiful!!! I love rainbow colours in roving, they are sooo pretty. That Navajo plied skein looks stunning, and it looks very even to me. I tried it once but I overplied quite badly, eeek! Think that this is something I need to practise. Great blog post 😀

  2. Lovely colours Karen. Well done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s