Finally! I got my Octarine yarn plied up, and now it’s washed and dried and ready to show you!
While we’re at it, though (and in case you’re at all interested), here’s a little about my process. Bouclé is a 3-ply yarn, sort of. It’s got three strands, but one of those doesn’t get along with the other two, which makes it loopy. I call them, for the sake of having a point of reference, the loop strand, the core ply and the locking ply.
For the loopy strand, I spun a Z-twist single of Wensleydale with slightly more twist than I would for a singles yarn. The core ply was next – I did an S-twist single in the silk/merino/firestar batt with as little twist as I could manage, slightly finer than the Wensleydale single.
The next bit is the bit that takes practice. You have to get the two strands to ply against one another, and get the loopy strand to … well, loop. So you tie the two strands to your leader yarn, and then slowly begin to ply in the same direction as your core ply was spun. While you’re doing it, you push the loopy strand up, towards the orifice, along the core ply, to get those lovely curls and loops. The difficult part is getting your timing right, and getting a rhythm happening.
Your wheel setup will need tinkering with, you’ll have to get your treadling to the sweet spot, and you have to work close to the orifice so that you don’t crank too much twist into the core ply, so your yarn has to go onto the wheel pretty fast. But it’s important to keep your takeup light, because otherwise the flyer assembly will tug all your loops to one place and ruin your lovely wriggly yarn. I’m so lucky to have my beautiful Majacraft Aura, because being able to balance the speed of the takeup against the strength of the takeup is the only way I could have made this yarn happen. While you’re plying this time, you’ll see the loopy ply untwist and become much softer. This is why it’s important to use a fairly strong, long fibre, such as silk, mohair or a longwool like Wensleydale.
The locking ply is pretty easy. You spin another S-twist single, with approximately as much twist as there is in your core ply after plying with the loopy strand. Then you simply ply the locking ply (in the Z direction) against the core ply plus loop strand, working at getting a nice balance between the core and locking plies. The structure of the yarn is in these two plies, so try not to get hung up on what the loopy strand is doing. It’s really just there for decoration. You might have to wrangle it a bit during this second plying pass to make sure the loops are fairly evenly distributed along the yarn, but that’s it.
I finished my yarn the usual way – a hot bath with a little lavender-scented shampoo, then squeezed in a towel and thwacked on the back patio. It didn’t get too hairy, which is good, but it did fluff up and it’s now really light, airy and springy. While it’s not exactly what I envisioned (I was going for something more delicate, not a super-bulky yarn), it illustrates perfectly what I was trying to do. I could have driven myself mad getting it much smaller, but in the end I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad it’s as fat and delicious as it is. And that’s yet another yarn chalked up!