Okay, now you’ve spun yarn. Congratulations! But you aren’t done yet. First, you have to decide if you want to ply or not. Then you have to set the twist.
Plying is a good option, since it counters the twist of your singles, and therefore knits up without “bias.” It also evens out the appearance of lumps and bumps in the yarn. If you want to ply, you will need a lazy kate. You can buy these or make your own out of a box and knitting needles. Basically, you just need something to hold your bobbins that lets them spin freely. My Babe is set up for 2-ply, so that’s the most I’ve done. This is the best way to learn how to ply. It gets you used to the tension and twist needed without too many strands to keep track of. Yarns that are 3-ply or more are the closest to commercial yarns, but 2-ply is nice, too. Make sure that you are plying in the opposite direction that you spun the singles (counter-clockwise if you spun clockwise).
Whether you’ve plied your yarn or not, the next step is to wind it into a skein. I wind mine onto a niddy noddy, but you can use anything from a fancy skein winder to the back of a chair.
Next, you set the twist. This just helps everything settle and be the way it’s going to be. After tying off sections of the skein (there are various ways of doing this, all it does is keep the skein from becoming a huge mess), soak it in warm water and a small amount of Dawn for about half an hour (or, if you’re like me, until you remember you left it in the sink). Then drain the water, squeeze out the skein (remember not to agitate the wet wool too much), and soak it in a warm bath with a splash of vinegar for half an hour. Try not to stick your hand in this bath, as I am prone to doing. It’s acidic and dries out your hand.
Now gently squeeze the water out of your skein and hang it to dry. I usually drape mine over a wire hanger and hang it in the shower so it can drip dry without getting water everywhere. If your yarn is just singles, you will want to weigh it down (I use a partially filled spray bottle) to straighten out kinks. This is not necessary with plied yarn.
That picture is of my first skeins of yarn, mostly dry.
Once your yarn is dry, it’s ready to use! Hooray! That is, of course, unless you still need and want to dye it.