How To Spin an Unbalanced Yarn

Spinning an unbalanced yarn - free tutorial

Unbalanced yarn is two (or more) plies twisted together in a way that gives an uneven, irregular yarn. Those types of yarn can be quite pretty. If you’re a handspinner you should definitely give unbalanced yarns a try. After all, one can buy normal, perfectly spun yarn in stores all over the world. Machines can make that yarn. But you, the talented and inspired maker of handcrafted yarn, can make it unbalanced and wonky. On purpose. Here’s how:


And if you’re not a fan of video tutorials, here is a quick description of how I’m making mine:

  • Start with two single plies.
  • Decide which single will the be ply that star of the show and spin it with low twist. For me that’s the pastel single. I also spun it to be thick-and-thin for extra irregularity.
  • The other single, which will form the core of your yarn, needs to be consistent in thickness and spun with more twist than the first.

Once you have those done, you are ready to ply. (Note that I always let my singles rest on the bobbins overnight to give the twist a chance to “set”. Spinning with fresh singles will give slightly different results.)

Start with a length of balanced plying, just to get yourself set. Then hold the ply you want to coil off to one side at an angle while holding the core ply straight towards you. Make a few inches of that. You’ll find that the steeper the angle you hold the coil ply, the more exaggerated the effect. You’ll also notice that the core yarn is loosing twist fast. In fact if you keep up spinning with one ply off to the side for too long, you find the core ply untwisting completely and pulling apart.

That’s why you have to switch it up. After a coiled section, give both plies a tug and go back to spinning balanced. Or, try holding the core yarn off to the other side briefly. Either technique should get your yarn back in balance. Then you are ready to coil again.

How much coiled versus balanced you can get into your yarn will depend on your singles and how they were spun. After you have spun a few yards going back and forth you should have found the rhythm that works.

spinning unbalanced two-ply yarn - a free tutorial

Have fun with it! See just how irregular your yarn can be.

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4 Comments on "How To Spin an Unbalanced Yarn"

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Cool technique. What would you make with the yarn?


While I admit that I don’t spin… This looks particularly hard. You are very talented