Andean Plying is great for plying small amounts of yarn without needing extra bobbins or other equipment. It is a favoured method of spindle spinners and those who wish to sample small amounts of yarn before embarking on the spinning for a large project. The singles yarn is wound in a specific manner around the plying hand (usually the left), then dropped to the wrist and the yarn is plied on itself from both ends of this improvised bracelet.
It is possible to use a specially made tool – sometimes called a Peruvian Plyer – to make an Andean Bracelet, but this tutorial is about not needing any special equipment, just quickly and easily plying a sample of your yarn so you can see how it’s going to turn out before committing yourself to several bobbins full.
Step one: Spin some yarn.
For a sample, I tend to spin two bumps on the bobbin. This generally gives me enough to knit a small swatch from the plied yarn if I want to, and gauge any colour effects properly. It is possible to safely ply quite large amounts using a bracelet but be aware that you will be attached to your wheel or spindle for quite a while if this is the case, so for large amounts it is perhaps better to choose another method.
Step two: Wind your bracelet.
There are several ways to wind an Andean Bracelet. Almost all involve wrapping the yarn around the back of the wrist and one or more fingers, and all then drop the yarn to the wrist to form a bracelet.
I decided to only include one method to avoid confusion; I have found no difference in the difficulty in wrapping, or effectiveness for plying in any of the methods I’ve tried. The important thing for every method, however, is to be consistent in your wrapping. Do not switch direction halfway through and start winding a different way. You’ll pay for it when your yarn becomes a tangled mess of spaghetti squiggle!
1. Attach the free end of your singles to the little finger of your non-preferred hand by wrapping it around a couple of times.
2. Take the yarn across the front of your hand, below the thumb and around the back of your wrist
3. Bring the yarn around to the front of your hand and take it back between your middle and index fingers, then forward between your middle and ring fingers
4. Take the yarn down past your thumb again and behind your wrist.
Repeat steps 3 and 4, always wrapping in the same direction, until you have run out of yarn. Ignore the phone if it rings, or make the cat answer it (this is why some people use a Peruvian Plyer).
5. Detach the tail of yarn from your little finger and hold it together with the other end
6. Slip your middle finger out of the loop and let the bracelet fall to your wrist. You can safely switch the bracelet to your other hand if you prefer, before plying, just keep a good hold on both the ends of yarn.
Step three: Ply from the bracelet.
Simply attach the two ends together to the leader on your spindle or wheel and start to ply. The singles will draw out from the inside and outside of the bracelet without tangling until the whole length is doubled back on itself in a 2-ply yarn.
Almost any type of 2-ply yarn can be made in this way: I have plied fine yarns, fuzzy yarns and yarns with bits hanging off them! A contrast 2-ply can be created by spinning a length of one type/colour of fibre then an equal length of another. When plied back on itself the first will be combined with the second.
Really, the possibilities are endless and you can have a lot of fun with this handy and convenient technique.
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