I got an email yesterday from Cathy, asking for my feelings on plying with a Schacht wheel. I haven't spun in a while, not since the red Romney, so I was inspired to pull out the wheel. After all, if I'm going to give my thoughts on plying, I really should do some plying so my thoughts are current, right?!
I browsed my fiber closet, and ended up going with the newest addition:
This is a lovely little bundle of fiber that I won for being the 2000th page viewer over at Panda Bonzai. Not sure how I managed to be there at exactly the right moment, but the prize is lovely! I'm pretty sure it's merino (mmmm, soft), and is dyed a beautiful mottled sapphire blue.
I spun the first half before lunch:
and the second after lunch. I plied it after dinner, washed it, and it dried overnight. Voila!
This is 3.0 oz, 365 yards, and it poofed out to 10 wpi after washing. Super soft, squishy, and lovely. It was a joy to spin. Now I just need to figure out something to make with it. The yarn will stripe, so I'm thinking a triangular shawl, knit from the center neck out so the stripes will make chevrons (or partial chevrons).
As for my thoughts on plying with the Schacht, Cathy was specifically asking about the soft takeup when plying. Here are the paraphrased questions and my responses, for my own reference in the future and for anyone else who cares to read them:
Double drive or Scotch tension? Single treadle or double?
I leave my Schacht set up for scotch tension all the time because I feel like I have much more control that way. I have a single-treadle wheel.
What whorl/ratio do you use to ply? Favorite whorl?
As far as what whorl I use to ply, it's nearly always the same one I used to spin the singles. I get a balanced ply by drafting farther than I drafted when I spun the singles. Does that make sense? Like if I drafted 1"/treadle for the singles, I'd draft (or whatever it's called when you're plying) out 3"/2 treadles when I ply. That way the ply gets slightly less twist than the single. I'm not rigid about the measurements, though I do count treadles. I just get into a rhythm and the counting becomes pretty much unconscious. Of course, it all depends on the yarn. Some yarn gets less singles twist and more ply twist, some gets low twist in both, etc. I don't have one favorite whorl, though I tend to like the smaller ones because I like to spin fine. It just depends on what yarn I want to spin. I rarely use the whorls larger than 11:1, for singles or plying.
Are you happy with your plying, or do you ever have to re-ply?
I'm usually happy without re-plying. The exception is super-fine laceweight (40+ wpi), just because it takes SO MUCH TWIST. Those I sometimes underply the first time through. I've found it helps to put in slightly more twist than your self-plied-singles-sample says you need, because the act of winding onto the bobbin removes a bit of twist. If it looks very slightly overplied right before the orifice, it's likely that it will look just right when it gets to the bobbin.
Do you have a problem with soft takeup?
The soft takeup. It's a problem, but I have noticed that it's much more of a problem for thicker yarn. Plying thinner than about 15 wpi, I usually have no problem. It also helps a lot to put the brake band around the larger end of the bobbin. I sometimes use the smaller end when I'm spinning fine singles, for the specific reason that it gives a softer takeup (less friction). By using the larger end, and a grabby brake band, the soft takeup is greatly alleviated. I do change brake bands depending on what I'm spinning. Various weights of crochet threads make good brakes, and the right brake can make a world of difference, both for increasing and decreasing the takeup.
I love my Schacht, but I've not tried a huge variety of wheels. I think it's a very versatile machine, but it does have that takeup problem with thicker yarns.
This yarn, though had absolutely no problems.