It is done. The fiber is now yarn – 325 yards of fingering. A flaw or two, here and there, but that infamous horseman riding by will never notice. Kindly admire.
As for what happened along the way, well --
Plying was no problem. A few hours standing on my trusty stool and reaching up to the ceiling (not so difficult as you might think; the stool is only about a foot off the ground and very sturdy) and one skein was done. Those 2 ounces of fingering look like nothing on this spindle, because the spindle is huge. This is the first time I have used my new plying spindle, and I love it. It was madly inexpensive too – only about $20 I think. And no problem getting the stubby little Bosworth spindle into the plying box. I used a straw to extend the shaft as Delighted Hands suggested; worked like a charm.
Finishing involved the use of steam (to prevent the dye from bleeding out and overdying the light shades, as it wanted to do), a technique I have never before attempted. But I pulled out the yarn pot, which is not nearly as large as it looks in the picture. The stove is very, very, very small. And rummaging in the cabinet I discovered that this canning pot had come with a canning rack. Good news.
I found that turning the canning rack upside down inside the pot worked perfectly. I could drape the yarn around the rack and have it easily 3 or more inches above the water. About 40 minutes seemed right. And so it was. A little drying time on the clothesline, and the yarn was dry, relaxed, and happy.
I followed the same process with the second skein, but things did not turn out quite so well. Somewhere in the steaming process something happened. Either a few strands fell into the water or the steam got too hot in general, because the dye bled out of a short length of some of the strands. Those pale gray strands along the bottom of the picture? Nope, not the original color. When I poured the water out of the pot it was a deep purple. Another clue.
At first I was so upset I wanted to heave the whole thing into the garbage. But then I took a second look and realized it wasn't a big deal. Only a few inches were affected on less than one third of the strands. So just for fun I reskeined it, from a 2-yard niddy to a 30-inch niddy. In theory, reskeining rearranges the colors so that different ones adjoin; it's supposed to give the skein a different look. And in practice, that's exactly what happened. The light gray bits are still there, but they don't look so overwhelming when randomly distributed.
Both skeins are not quite the same color though, since there is no light gray in the first skein. So for socks it would probably be best to make the cuffs of both socks from the first skein and the feet from the second. Should work.