A non-creative title, I know, but that's what this is.
Thank you all for the supportive comments yesterday (no-one indicated by word or emoticon that they were laughing out loud at me, which I truly appreciated); they certainly were a balm to my wounded ego. In the end, when one partakes of a craft as old as spinning, there is always the reassuring thought that there are probably no mistakes I can make that someone, in the last 20,000 years or so, hasn't already made. It's a relief.
The suggestions generally fell into two camps. Camp the first: take the yarn I already had, and ply it again -- this time in the correct direction -- to make a more balanced four-ply yarn. Camp the second: take a shot at running the yarn back though the wheel -- again, in the right direction this time -- to see if I could unply and the reply it. Joy (I don't have a link for you, I'm sorry!) even said that she'd recently read of someone else attempting that fix successfully, which was a very hopeful thought. I so appreciated how much thought everyone put into lending a helping hand (especially you non-spinners; I promise, knitting content next time!).
Since camp the second most closely paralleled my own hopes and dreams for this yarn (a nice fingering-weight two-ply), I decided to take them in order. I'd try to re-ply the right way, and then, if that didn't work, I'd make a nice four-ply yarn, thereby also increasing my plying repertoire.
Thinking (as I always do) of posterity, I actually took a couple of pictures of the yarn as it was after my disastrous plying session on Thursday.
Stiff, and not very pretty. Not to mention that a lot of it squiggled up onto itself.
Not attractive. This is also why I put camp the second as my first-pass option; I wasn't sure how well such squiggly yarn would ply back onto itself, and I didn't want to end up with a 260-yard skein of novelty yarn if I had another option.
So, this morning I put the skein on my (chewed-up, but marginally functional at low speeds) swift, set myself up with the scotch tension on my Traddie set very low, and started to ply. The right way. I rapidly developed a technique that seems to work. Pinch the yarn about a foot from the wheel with my back hand, treadle two to five times while watching carefully until the plies have untwisted themselves and start to twist the other way, then use my forward hand to pinch the twist close to the wheel, and guide it down to my back hand. Feed the yarn onto the bobbin, and start again.
That's not the clearest picture, but it's definitely yarn. It's much softer, too, than it was before (imagine that). It's also not as fine; because the plies are actually winding around each other at a consistent and even rate, instead of occasionally and grudgingly agreeing to twine (I had about 4-5 twists per inch on it before; I now have much more), this is not going to be the very fine laceweight that it was. The yarn is now rounder, and it appears to therefore be thicker.
I can live with that.