Should I Let My Bobbins Rest Before I Ply My Yarn?

Should I let my bobbins rest before plying my yarn? This is one of the most commonly asked questions in the spinning community! Some people swear by it, and others prefer to just charge ahead on their project.

I recently ran a poll on Instagram that got 236 responses. 61% of folks said yes, they let their bobbins rest, while 39% said no, they don’t let their bobbins rest.

Personally, I tend to go right ahead and ply my yarn without waiting. But I was really curious to see what difference letting the bobbins rest has on the final yarn. And I wondered about questions like: How do we know how much twist the ply needs if the energy is rested out of it? Does it make tangled yarn less likely?

Let’s find out!

So today, I am going to use the bobbins that I spun in my last blog post using my Canadian Production Wheel (CPW). Watch the full video of this bobbin experiment on YouTube or keep reading below!

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The Yarn for This Project

The yarn I’m using for this experiment is spun from an artisan dyed fiber from Rock and String Creations. It is the color Mountain Twilight, which is 70% alpaca and 30% merino and has a thin pencil roving preparation. See how I spun this fiber with my CPW here.

Next, I loaded the yarn onto two of these storage bobbins to help make a 2-ply yarn using my antique CPW. I loaded them on and let them rest for a couple of months while I worked on other projects.

2 bobbins wound with multicolored yarn sitting on a wooden table
This is the yarn I used for this experiment. I let this yarn rest on these storage bobbins for a couple of months.

CPWs have a lot of speed and high twist ratios, which creates a very high twist yarn. That is why I thought this yarn would make a great candidate for this experiment!

The Spinner for This Project

I used my Ashford e-spinner 3 for plying this project. I enjoy plying with this spinner because it gives a lot of twist really quickly.

A close up of a woman's hands while using a yarn spinner that is resting on a chair in a living room
My Ashford e-spinner 3 was perfect for plying this project.

Why Should You Let Your Bobbins of Yarn Rest?

The reason you should let your yarn rest is to let the twist energy relax. When yarn has a lot of fresh twist energy in it, it is difficult to manage. It often gets wrapped up in pigtails and is difficult to control when you’re plying.

Some people don’t like to let the yarn rest because it can become dead, limp, and lifeless. You can’t see the energy in the yarn anymore, so it can be hard to know if you’re getting a good ply.

How Can You Re-Energize Your Yarn after Resting?

Rested yarn can seem lifeless, but theoretically, as soon as it gets wet, it will perk back up and the energy will come back.

I wanted to test how rewetting the yarn brings back the twist. So, I cut two small samples of the yarn to compare the dry natural twist to the rewetted, re-energized twist.

A strand of yarn in a small glass bowl of water on a wooden table
Here is the rewetted sample sitting in a small bowl of water on the left and the dry sample on the right.

I rewetted one of the samples, let it sit for a bit, then pressed the water out. When I held it up, it definitely had a ton of energy in it! It was twisting and dancing around a lot!

A strand of yarn dances around in the air above a wooden table
Clearly, getting the yarn wet reactivated all of the twist!

Measuring the Twist Angle of the Yarn

I used a spin control card from Dreaming Robots (that came with my Eel Wheel Nano).

A close-up of two strands of yarn against a twist angle measurement card
The dry yarn is on the right and the rewetted sample is on the left.

I was surprised by how much difference there was! The dry yarn was almost relaxed at about 20 degrees of twist angle. The re-energized yarn was at about 40 degrees.

I was surprised there was such a visible difference! So, resting your yarn is effective, and you can easily perk your yarn back up by getting it wet.

Plying the Yarn

A trick that many spinners use to test the twist of their yarn while plying is to pull the yarn out of the wheel and let it dangle to see if it twists up on itself. But if you’ve let your yarn rest, this test is going to give you the dry, rested twist angle. It won’t show you the high twist energy that the yarn actually has. So, rewetting a small sample of your yarn and keeping that next to you while you ply seems like a better way to accurately gauge what your twist should be like while you ply.

I took my rewetting sample with me and used my Lazy Kate to ply the yarn. I put it on a high setting and used my spin control card again to compare the plied yarn to my sample to make sure it had the right amount of twist.

When I first got started, there were a ton of pigtails everywhere. But as I got going, there wasn’t any of that messy, annoying “yarn barf” that we all fear. Even if the yarn did twist up on itself, it was so easy to give it a little pull and straighten everything out. I didn’t have any of the issues that I normally have when I ply with fresh bobbins!

But What Happens When You Wash the Yarn?

Of course, the final test was to wash the yarn. Washing the yarn will reactivate the twist and be a good test to see if I overspun the yarn.

A skein of multi-colored yarn submerged in a metal bowl of water
The final step was to wash the yarn to see the re-wetted twist energy.

And the results were amazing!

A large, multi-colored skein of yarn neatly spread out on a wooden table
The large skein on the left was spun after resting, but to a twist angle that matched the re-wetted yarn. The sample on the right is the dry, rested yarn.

The rested, high-twist yarn is just happy! It is bouncy and full of life. It is beautiful and the twist angle is really satisfying. By comparison, the dry sample was just blah and limp.

Key Takeaways — Do You Let Your Bobbins Rest Before Plying?

I often go directly into plying immediately after spinning a bobbin.

But sometimes, a lot of time has passed from when I spun the first bobbin and the second bobbin. Sometimes I’ll even start a bobbin, let it rest for a week, and then come back and finish the bobbin. This means that when I ply, I’m working with one bobbin with relaxed twist energy and one bobbin with fresher twist, or even varied twist within the same bobbin, which isn’t ideal.

But when I plied the yarn for this experiment, there was no yarn barf, the yarn didn’t attach onto itself, there were no tangles, and I had a much easier time plying overall. And the yarn came out so beautifully!

A close-up of a multi-colored skein of yarn
The end results were so beautiful compared to the dry sample, and I can’t wait to weave with this yarn!

So in conclusion, I think it makes sense to let the bobbins rest! There are some serious advantages to letting the yarn rest. I imagine it would have been an unpleasant experience plying with fresh bobbins and this yarn would have had out-of-control energy, but I really enjoyed plying with the rested bobbins.

So, what do you do? Do you let your yarn rest? And do you think you’ll do anything differently after seeing this experiment? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below!

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Happy spinning!

2 thoughts on “Should I Let My Bobbins Rest Before I Ply My Yarn?

  1. Melanie McKenna

    Is there anything that can be done with over twisted singles if you don’t plan on plying?

    1. JillianEve

      Sure! For a few ideas, you can remove a little of the extra twist by putting it back through the spinning wheel. You can also use it for weaving as the strong twist makes it more durable. Happy spinning!

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