Well, I finally did it. I've chain plied yarn. I have to admit it was went much better than I anticipated. I should have just bit the bullet and done this a year ago. I'd be so much better at it by now. I do want to try this technique again and I can imagine that there would be times I'd really like to be able to create a chain plied yarn. But I do need practice, I have another 4 ounces of this fiber set aside for that practice.
To start this project, I began by spinning one long continuous single. I did everything like I normally do except I didn't strip the fiber lengthwise as many times as I normally do. By doing this I got longer color repeats than if I divided everything into many thin strips. You'd get the longest color repeats if you didn't divide the fiber lengthwise at all. The biggest change from my usual set up was the ratio I used for plying. I used my lowest ratio (5 to1) to slow things down and give my hands a chance to get used to the new movements. I found this video on YouTube to be the most helpful thing in getting started.
There were things I liked about chain plying and things I'm not too crazy about. I really saw two benefits to finishing singles this way. The first and best reason to do this is to keep color repeats together. You can see in this skein that I'll have some nice solid colored repeats instead of the barber pole type that is the result of a regular two or three ply yarn. The other benefit I saw, it that you get to spin one continuous thread for plying. That means no leftover singles from plying that you have to figure out what to do with.
I've seen many references that this technique is similar to crochet; I don't know how to crochet so I can't really offer an opinion on that. I do think the worst part is the little intersection between the loops that are used in the technique. You can feel the a little know at this point, but it is slight and I don't think you'd notice it all in the finished knit fabric. But they are kind of ugly. Especially if there is a color change at the intersection. I've also read that a chain plied yarn is not as strong as a true 3-ply. I don't know if that is true, but I do think there is something about a true 3-ply that is more satisfying to spin.
Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Fiber: All Spun Up
Content: Superwash Merino
Fiber: combed top
Weight: 4.4 ounces
Yardage: 212 yards
WPI: 10 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 5 to 1
Notes: first attempt at chain-plied yarn!