Plies and Whys: Cabled Yarns

25 May 2022
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If you have been reading this series, you know by now that loose fibres are spun into singles and that most of the time, those singles are plied into what we think of as standard yarn. But did you know that sometimes a mill (or a hand spinner) will ply plied yarns? The process of twisting two or more plied yarns together is called cabling, and the resulting yarn is often referred to as a cabled yarn or cord yarn.

This is the third in a three-part series exploring yarn structure and how the manner in which yarn is plied affects the cloth we make from it.
Part One: Singles
Part Two: Plied Yarns

The definition of this category of yarn is as complex as its structure. There can be different directions or amounts of twist used to spin the singles, then ply and cable particular yarns. Each variation creates a different style of yarn. Some cabled yarns include singles to add texture, and some even add another layer of twist to the cable. Each of these variations has its own specific name, and sometimes that name changes based on the fibre used to spin the yarn.

All images by Michelle Boyd.

Copyright © Michelle Boyd except as indicated.

About Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd is a Master Spinner, weaver, and writer who lives in Olds, Alberta, located in Treaty 7 Territory, the ancestral lands of the peoples of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Michelle learned to spin in 1995 when her local yarn shop closed, and she became obsessed with the art and science of making yarn. She has taught workshops across North America and instructed for the Olds College Master Spinner Program for fifteen years. She is also a frequent contributor to both PLY Magazine and Digits & Threads and is currently completing her first book about spinning.

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