Circulation—It's A Good Thing

After spending more than 20 minutes without circulation to the middle finger on my left hand the first time I tried plying singles from my drop spindle using the Andean hand wrap, I decided not to use the technique again unless I could figure out how to do it without risking a finger.

Here's where things stood with me:
  1. I really like the fact that plying from both ends means the entire cop gets plied. (Whereas from two center-pull balls you're guaranteed to have some left over.)
  2. Plying from both ends of a center-pull ball seems like insanity.
  3. Plying from two center-pull balls seems like greater insanity.
  4. Winding hundreds of yards of singles into center-pull balls ... also insanity.
As I prefer to keep what little sanity I have left (a dubious prospect, at best, after working my way through a PhD program with a young child and a theatre company), I've developed what I think is a simple, elegant solution to the circulation problem and one worthy of a physician's daughter:

Use a splint.

I used a large table spoon, but a ruler or anything else you have around that looks about the right size would also work.

Why does this work? By inserting a splint like this, you prevent the thread from forming a complete circle around your finger. The spoon handle carries nearly half the surface of the wrap and creates some extra space. It also stabilizes your finger so it isn't pushed increasingly forward as you load on more thread.

Orient the spoon face-down on the back of your palm, extending from your wrist up along your middle finger.

You need to wrap a few rounds before inserting the spoon so there's something in place to prevent the spoon from falling off. Also, you need to turn your hand over so it's palm-down while you're wrapping—at least for awhile. Most of us learn how to do the Andean hand wrap palm side up because that's where the tricky part of the wrap is and all the diagram books show it palm-up. It'll take a minute to re-orient yourself.

I've found that it's best to situate the spoon so the handle doesn't extend off the tip of your finger. Aligning the end around the first knuckle gives plenty of room to hold even the longest singles without making it awkward to manipulate the wrapping.

See those healthy, pink finger tips? I'd already been wrapping nearly an hour when I took these pictures—and the finished, plied skein (Song for Dalai Lama) is 150 yards! That means something more than 300 yards of singles are on my hand in the picture, right?! Does anybody know how the singles-to-plied yarn ratio works out?

Once you're done loading on, remove the spoon, and you'll have no trouble wiggling your finger out. It'll be smooth plying from then on!

Happy plying—and please drop me a note to let me know if you find this helpful.


Anonymous said...

OMG Zhenya - that's brilliant! Last time I did the Andean thing my finger turned purple and I ended up with a huge tangled mass of yarn from yanking the whole thing off my hand! It took DH & I hours to undo the mess (yes, I was able to salvage the yarn!) I've always done the Andean thing palm down, so no problems there! Can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

Oh! I must try that. The first (and last) time I did any andean plying I wasn't overly thrilled, but now I must try it again with your excellent suggestion. Well done!

loopykd said...

Excellent post! Bravo! I have lost my circulation many times.

Margie said...

Sweet! I'm just learning to spin, and a friend taught me Andean plying, but warned me not to try it on large amounts of yarn. Since I: 1) only have one spindle, 2)like to spin a LOT of yarn at once, and 3) want to always use Andean plying so as not to waste singles, this is terrific!

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Great solution! thanks.

Unknown said...

OMG! Thank you for this! I love Andean plying, but I always have a problem with my circulation being cut off. You are brilliant!