How to Make a Kate or Plying Ball

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To make two or three-ply yarn, you need the singles that you have spun, either on two bobbins if you are using a wheel, or rolled into a plying ball if you are using a hand spindle. If your singles are on bobbins, you should use a kate to keep them organized. Many beautiful kates are available, but you can easily make one yourself. If you are going to ply from a ball, you should use a basket or box—even your shoe can work in a pinch—to keep it from rolling away.

Use a Kate

If you are using a wheel, you need to transfer your singles to a kate before you can ply. You can make the kate that is pictured here using materials that are easily available. You need a sturdy cardboard box or a small basket, four metal knitting needles, and a handful of cloth-covered hair elastics. Make sure that the knitting needles are the right size to fit through your bobbins.

  1. Push the knitting needles through the box or the holes in the basket. Try to line the holes up so that the bobbins are straight.

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  2. Twist the hair elastics over the knitting needles to prevent them from sliding out.

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  3. Slide the bobbins onto the knitting needles.

  4. Secure with the hair elastics.

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    Make sure that the threads are all coming off the bobbins in the same direction, either over the top or from underneath. If they do not pull off in the same direction, they will make a terrible tangle.

Make a plying ball

If you are using a hand spindle instead of a wheel, you need to make a plying ball to wind the yarn off the spindle. If you do not have a nøstepinde, you can use a paper towel core or dowelling.

  1. Take the ends of the two singles that you are going to ply, and tape them together to the top of the nøstepinde, paper towel core, or dowel.

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  2. Hold the core in one hand and the joined singles in the other. Wrap the singles on a diagonal around the core so that they lie side by side.

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  3. When you have wrapped the singles so that half of the core is covered, give the core a quarter turn and continue wrapping.

  4. Keep turning a quarter turn and wrapping until you come to the end of your singles.

    If the two balls of singles don’t come out evenly, continue to wrap the remaining single around the plying ball in the same pattern.

  5. Tuck the ends of the singles securely in place on the outside of the plying ball.

  6. Unfasten the singles that are taped to the core. Tie a big, obvious knot in them.

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  7. Keeping the knot in one hand, slip the ball off of the core.

    You now have a plying ball that you can pull easily from the knotted end in the center of the ball.


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