Spinning: Let’s Do the Twist

My last post was on plying and how I usually go by the feel of it.  If you are a perfectionist, then my by-feel method probably won’t work for you.  It can be hit or miss at times, though with the majority of my spinning I get what I want and that’s close enough for me.

So how much twist do we really need in the yarn?

Only a little twist and it will fall apart, too much and you’ve made rope.  Fiber choices and how they are spun make all the difference. The one thing that is for sure, besides death and taxes, is the amount of twist determines the yarn strength as well as the number of plies.  With the more plies you use in the yarn, the stronger and longer life in the wear of the item.

A few ways to know how much twist:

  • Good old experience or as I call it, “by-feel”
  • Sampling and recording your results
  • Duplicating another yarn
  • Technical grist and twist charts
  • Counting your turns and twists

Making It Count:  
You can check any of your yarn’s twist using a measurement of length and by counting the number of turns in your yarn.  Measure a length of yarn and count the number of single turns within it. Divide the number of single turns by the number of plies, then divide by the measured length.  The final answer gives you your TPI (twists per inch).



I used the count of the lighter colored single. Very simple math.

What can we do with this information?

Let’s say we  are spinning up a full fleece for a specific yarn-weight project.  This could take quite some time to complete and making a sample with this information will be a great tool to stay consistent in the spinning with all the stopping and starting in the life of the project.

Sample Card

Simple Record Keeping:

  • Make a sample of your yarn
  • Make a sample card to attach the sampled plied yarn to and write the calculation of TPI.
  • Hang it on your wheel for reference during your project.

pretty twist card

A sample of a prettier sample card I think I will include in #spin15in15 for gifting.

As Chubby Checker sings, “Come on baby, let’s do the twist.”

Spin on!

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