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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Ply \Ply\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Plied; p. pr. & vb. n. Plying.] [OE. plien, F. plier to fold, to bend, fr. L. plicare; akin to Gr. ?, G. flechten. Cf. Apply, Complex, Display, Duplicity, Employ, Exploit, Implicate, Plait, Pliant, Flax.]

  1. To bend. [Obs.]

    As men may warm wax with handes plie.

  2. To lay on closely, or in folds; to work upon steadily, or with repeated acts; to press upon; to urge importunately; as, to ply one with questions, with solicitations, or with drink.

    And plies him with redoubled strokes

    He plies the duke at morning and at night.

  3. To employ diligently; to use steadily.

    Go ply thy needle; meddle not.

  4. To practice or perform with diligence; to work at.

    Their bloody task, unwearied, still they ply.


vb. (present participle of ply English)


In the textile arts, plying is a process used to create a strong, balanced yarn. It is done by taking two or more strands of yarn that each have a twist to them and putting them together. The strands are twisted together, in the direction opposite that in which they were spun. When just the right amount of twist is added, this creates a balanced yarn, one which has no tendency to twist upon itself. Almost all store-bought yarns are balanced, plied yarns.

A two-ply is thus a yarn plied from two strands, a six-ply is one from six strands, and so on. Most commercial yarns are more than a two ply. Embroidery floss is generally a six-ply yarn, for example.

The creation of two-ply yarn requires two separate spools of singles and either a lazy kate or something to hold the spools in place. On a wheel, two-ply is created by taking two spools of singles, placing them on a lazy kate, tying the ends together onto the spool attached to the wheel, and spinning the wheel in the opposite direction to that in which the singles were spun, while also feeding the yarn onto the spool on the wheel. On a drop spindle, two-ply is created by placing the spools on a lazy kate, tying the ends together onto the drop spindle, holding equal lengths of singles together and dropping the spindle. The weight of the drop spindle combined with the twist in the singles, causes the drop spindle to turn in the opposite direction that the singles were twisted in until the two singles are plied together.

Usage examples of "plying".

Kelia Theims and her four dark-eyed daughters had bustled about until nearly Third, preparing a hot meal, changing the sheets on their own beds to accommodate the travelers, and plying them with questions about their beloved Minstrel.

Jim and I were plying for hire in the harbour, and we had not long to wait before we got a fare.

Then the conversation diverted onto other paths with the Italian, a man most eager to learn about foreign lands, earnestly plying Sir William and myself with questions about the country and the way it was governed.

Instantly, I was sure this was some client, and that her shame and degradation was now so great she had taken to plying her trade in her own house, for all to see.

On the second day they saw a fisher plying the river, a curious figure all tucked up and leaning over on the bank.

A pair of beefy coasters still pressed Adira, one fencing with a long knife and the other plying a stool.

At first Kory-Kory goes to work quite leisurely, but gradually quickens his pace, and waxing warm in the employment, drives the stick furiously along the smoking channel, plying his hands to and fro with amazing rapidity, the perspiration starting from every pore.

Sitting on the far corner of the hearth and plying her needle, Kara only sighed.