Snarled Marls? Judith Will Smooth Your Path with This Quick Tip

Spinning marled yarns can be tricky. Judith MacKenzie will show you how to keep your drafting in tip-top shape in her new silk spinning course.

Kate Larson Jan 31, 2022 - 2 min read

Snarled Marls? Judith Will Smooth Your Path with This Quick Tip Primary Image

Judith MacKenzie created this beautiful yarn using a simple marling technique. Photo by Matt Graves.

What is a “marled” yarn? The answer varies a bit depending on the textile context, but handspinners typically use marl to describe a yarn that incorporates two or more colors in a single where the individual colors remain fairly distinct. The colors fade in and out along the length of a single and, when plied, create a fascinating pattern.

Judith MacKenzie uses this technique to create an irresistible skein in her new video, Spinning Wild and Unusual Silk. Starting with a palette of wild silk colors—copper red eri silk to pewter peduncle—Judith creates a repeating color pattern that shifts gently between natural colors.

Judith Demonstrating Marling Across the Top of Two Silks

Why are marls so great?

One of my favorite things about the marling technique I learned from Judith is that it requires no tools beyond your spinning wheel. This blending happens at the wheel; simply grab a handful of different tops and you are ready to blend! The trick is to spin with a worsted draw and draft from up on the tips of the fibers. In the video clip below, take a close look at where Judith keeps the point of twist. See how relaxed her hands are as she works?

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Silk can feel like a struggle, especially when marling a handful of three or four combed tops. In her new course, Judith discusses the wheel adjustments and mindful approach that allow you to spin silk effortlessly. Does slippery silk give you sweaty palms? Sit with Judith for an hour, and you’ll be ready to spin silk to your heart’s content.

— Kate

Kate Larson is the editor of Spin Off and spends as many hours as life allows in the barn with her beloved flock of Border Leicesters.