(Yes, I skipped #21! I’ll come back to that one in a while.)
Now the structures start to deviate from the norm. You might wonder why we skipped over 4-ply straight to 5-ply; I can only guess it’s because 4-ply wouldn’t be that different from 5-ply, and there’s another 4-ply in the works: a cable ply.
A cabled yarn is when you make two overtwisted 2-ply yarns, then ply them together again in the opposite direction. This does something really interesting: the singles in the 2-ply, because they are twisted twice in opposite directions, lock into place and pop into a really interesting look.
I used four different colors in the four plies so you can really see this. The yellow and red are plied together, and the brown and orange are plied together. If you look closely, you can trace the path of a red-and-yellow or an orange-and-brown 2-ply tracing around the yarn. But you can also see other colors stacking up vertically.
The reason you get that “pop” is that if the twist lines up just right, each individual single ends up going through the middle of the whole yarn, snaking back and forth. The best analogy I can come up with is those “scrambler” type rides at amusement parks: where you’re on a car that is spinning around the end of an arm with three other cars, and then that arm is spinning around a center. If you look at the ride it looks simple enough, rotation on rotation, but if you’re riding the ride, it feels like you zoom through the middle, then are nearly stationary on the outside, then zoom through the middle again. I imagine that’s what it’s like to be a single in a cabled yarn: stopping to poof out a bit on the outside, then twisting through the middle.
Because so much of the singles are protected, literally covered in the middle of the yarn, these yarns are supposedly very hard wearing. I find the fabric a little nubbly, and a little dense-feeling, but that might be the quality of my spinning. Because the yarn has a chance to poof, the inconsistencies in my singles are amplified a little, rather than hidden as with a standard multi-ply yarn. But it doesn’t show in the fabric, or wouldn’t if the plies were the same color.
Actually the longest spin I’ve ever done happens to be cabled yarn. I knit it into an incredible cabled cape that I’ve never worn. I want to reclaim the yarn for something else, but I’m not sure what else I’d make with it. Great stitch definition, though!
This 51 yarns sample was a little smaller. More details raveled here.