What is a balanced yarn?

What is a balanced yarn?

Weaving and all its assorted challenges were starting to get me frustrated, coupled with the instability we all have faced made me step away from any challenges.  So I went back to my spinning wheel and a delicious bag of dyed locks from my favourite indie dyer.  The breed remains a mystery, but the length of the locks, softness, crimp is fantastic.

I seldom do lock spinning with anything this long.  I know other spinners do amazing work with long wool, but I’ve never mastered the skill, so I flick card the fibers on my hand cards and use the opened locks to spin a worsted/semi-worsted yarn.


The locks were anywhere from 6 in. to 9 in (16 cm to 23 cm) and spun a single that was more than forty wpi, so it was extremely fine. Just as an example of what 40 wraps per inch looks like …

When I get a single this fine I do not use a centre pull ball for plying.  The tendency for tangles to form in the core of the ball and pull out in a nasty mess are constant and dealing with that just ruins the spinning experience.  I much prefer plying from two bobbins, which is what I did to get my puzzling results.

Balanced yarn, as defined by just about every book and online tutorial hangs in a nice loop.  This is done after taking the wool off the ply bobbin and soaking it in warm water to set the twist. The yarn is hung to dry, naturally without weights; it might be twirled to remove excess water but it’s left to dry on its own.  If the final product twists counter clockwise it is under spun, and can benefit from some added twist.

Technically, this rather dark image is of a balanced yarn.  It hangs in a perfect loop, just like all the books/instructors say.  Initially, I was really pleased with the results, for the first time in ages, I’d hit it bang on with the ply. But on closer inspection, not so much.  The yarn was really not usable for knitting and probably not usable for weaving either. 

There are far too many gaps in the ply, needles would get stuck and for all that it’s lovely and fluffy, it still had loads of areas that were not evened out of their excess twist.

The only choice was to run it through the wheel again to try to fix the problem.  I gave it more twist, hot water soaked it and hung it to dry as before.  The results are really great and I’m pleased as can be. Except… these results gave an over twisted yarn.


The over twist is really minimal but just the same it’s there.  I don’t know if it will have a negative impact for knitters or not.  I think as a weaver it will be just fine.  The colours as shown here are very misleading.  They are in fact deep heather tones, so I’ll be using black and brown to weave them into something dressy for my son’s.  They both expressed a strong dislike for the original colours but love the final yarn.

This is a very brief posting to allow all of you to get back to enjoying your New Years celebrations.  Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope it brings great things to you all.


8 thoughts on “What is a balanced yarn?

  1. The colours in the yarn are lovely! We would have given the yarn a go with knitting even though you thought it not good enough (before you ran it through again) as we love anything that’s not considered perfect because it has a unique character.

    Looking forward to seeing what you weave with this yarn for your sons. Happy New Weaving Year!

  2. I think those locks looked gorgeous, lovely colours. My first thought was that they might be Mo (mohair) possibly Kid Mo in view of the softness; although Wensleydale might be more likely in view of the length of the locks. Whatever, the teased locks are beautiful.
    A really balanced yarn isn’t always what you need, it does depend upon what you are going to do with it. Knitters and weavers wishing to create a very even fabric, may need their yarn balanced, but not crocheters. When I was spinning yarn to crochet, I had to spin the singles and then ply them n the opposite twist to the usual way (it’s so long ago now that I can’t remember whether I spun S and plied Z or spun Z and plied S). This is because, when crocheted, a yarn spun and plied in the usual way, un-plys itself – unless it was over-plied in the first place. This is why quite often I became very disappointed with the result of crocheting a beautiful bought yarn. So now I generally stick to felting and only using yarn to embellish the felt.

    I too am looking forward to seeing the fabric you weave from the yarn you have spun.

  3. Confession time: I know very little (just above zero) about spinning so your post has done a heck of a lot to improve that situation so thank you. I love the finished yarn and look forward to see the finished weave.

    Happy New Year!

  4. The locks are luscious and the yarn turned out great. My spinning knowledge is minimal so it’s nice to learn more about the right way to do things. I look forward to seeing the finished product 😊.
    Happy New Year! ☃️

  5. That is absolutely beautiful!!! I love the colours 💜 I’ve just assembled my Christmas present, a 16″ rigid heddle loom. I bought some yarn before Christmas that is very much like yours, so im feeling very inspired and am looking for to getting weaving!! Please share your creations when you’ve woven them.

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