Am I Write?


In 2008 I wrote my first article that ever got published. It was for KnittySpin and it was about scouring and spinning Cormo. Not a bad article and I got some good feedback so I decided to carry on. I proposed articles for a couple of other spinning magazines, both in print and electronic. Some of them got accepted which was good for my ego.

Over time I proposed more things to magazines and of course there were a couple of book proposals. Of course, it goes without saying that I love writing for Ply.


I learned some things about proposals over time. The first ones were just a few sentences describing as well as I could. Luckily, a few used words that got my message across. Some of the ones I thought were great ideas were turned down. I suspect that sometimes my idea just didn’t fit or there was someone else who got chosen who proposed the same thing or sometimes I didn’t communicate the idea that was in my brain very well.

So, I’d like to tell you a few things that I now do in just about every proposal to write an article. I’m not saying I get a yes every time but I do get a yes more often than I did even up to 2 years ago.

1. Know the magazine you are proposing to. Think about who their audience is.

2. Make sure you are proposing an article that will fit the particular issue you are proposing for.

3. Use details. talk about what point of view you will be coming from. Be specific about what things you will include in your article.

4. Sometimes it helps to include an outline. When you actually write the article, things may switch around a bit but an outline is a great communicator.

5. Say how many words or pages you think you’ll need to clearly explain what you are writing about.

6. Include a photo or two if you’ve done this technique or made this thing before. They don’t have to be photos of any samples you send for photography in the end but, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words.

This all may seem like a lot of work before you even get a yes but in the end it is so worth it.


Reprinting Color and Woolen!

If you’re one of the PLY readers that missed out on issue #2 and #3 (Color and Woolen), guess what?  We are reprinting!  However, since we are a small operation, we don’t have green enough just sitting around, so we’re going to have to do what we did for the Summer 2013 (#1, first).

Here’s how it works.  If you don’t have the issue but you want it, you order it.  I take your money but don’t send you anything. Not for a while anyway.  I have to wait until we have enough orders to cover a print run.  For the #1 issue, I said it could take anywhere from 2 months to 12 months.  It made it in 6 months and the reprint went out last month.

I suspect it’ll take about the same time for #2 and #3, but it could take longer.  Again, I’ll print by July 2015 if we haven’t made the numbers yet, even if I have to sell handspun on the street!

It’s been up for 2 weeks and we’re 10% there, so that’s pretty promising.

If you’re torn about the issues, don’t be, they’re both really good.  Woolen is one of my favorites (mostly because I think it has changed the most people’s spinning) and Color is one of the most beautiful issues (not just because my lovely mom is in it).

If you want to help us get it back in stock faster, order!  Tell your friends!

Learning to make a magazine pt.2

How about another  installment of learning to make a magazine?

First to set the stage —  here’s where we are in the grand scheme of cycles and status:

End of the Autumn 2014 cycle

Middle of the Winter 2014 cycle

Planning of the Summer 2015 cycle

That sounds easy enough, right?  Let’s look closer, things are always more difficult and dirty when you look closer and making a magazine is no exception, my spinnerly friends.

End of Autumn 2014 cycle —  Kitten sends me PDF of the final design and layout and I review them.  However, he’s a bit behind (this sometimes happens where one of us is a bit behind, we always catch up) so I don’t have any to review this week.  Which is actually not a bad thing for me since much of my time needs to be spent planning, and spinning samples for, my Craftsy class.  Yes, folks, I’m doing a craftsy class. Very excited! Amy King just did one (and it’s great) and if there’s anything else in this world I want to be, it’s Amy King!

Middle of Winter 2014 cycle — there’s more work here for me, mainly, finishing all the first edits and re-orgs or author’s articles.  There are still 2 articles out with the authors (extended deadlines) but everything else is in and I’ve gone over all of it once.  Now I’m in the middle of going over it again so that I can make sure there’s not too much overlap, repeating of information and so on.  Again, with the themed issues,  it’s more of a threat than not.  I’ve already got most of these done and by the end of the week I’ll send them all to Levi for a 2nd round of editing.

I just sent the Winter 2014 patterns to Amy P,  our tech editor.  Except that we have a inkle weaving project and so I’m on the hunt for a inkle weaver for a little tech editing.  It’s small and simple so if you have experience, let me know!

Planning of the Summer 2015 cycle: The best part of my week is the planning of the Summer 2015 issue.  We got so many fantastic proposals and it’s my job to sort through them.  I told you before that I’ve got a folders in my mail client, right?  Under Summer 2015 there’s Yes, No, and Maybe.  In my Yes there’s 5, in No (which later I will transfer to my trello board in case we can use them elsewhere) there’s 39, and in Maybe there’s 56!  It’s a lot to go through but building the issues like this is something I really enjoy.

I used to use a giant sheet of butcher paper but since I discovered Trello, I do it there.  I have several things I look for when I first start this job. I have to make sure that there’s a great intro article, something introducing the topic, broad and focused (it’s a thing, really).  There’s not one in the proposals this time so I have to go hunt for one.  I’ve already put out an e-mail to who I’d like to write it, negotiating with her now.  I hope she consents, if so, it’ll be a great opener.

After finding that article, I try to make sure there’s a good mix of what I label light, medium, and heavy.  That refers to the content and how much brain power it takes to make it through the articles.  Deb Robson and Diane Palme are examples of heavy!  Smarty ladies, they are!  But it’s important to have a mix, take the reader on a journey they’re going to enjoy, not just fill it with heavy, dense facts.  I try for 40% heavy, 40% medium, and 20% light. Our regular features take care of some of that, you know, stuff like fiber study is usually heavy while guilded, who’s that spinner, and follow the fiber are usually light, and spin it’s are often medium.  The articles that don’t fit into those categories — the extras — are the ones that I have to make sure have a good balance and cover everything the issue should cover.

So after considering the intro article, and a good mix of article weights, I also consider authors.  I like to have a mix of those, as well.  I try to make sure we have at least 4 new authors in each issue.  There can be more, but I make sure there’s no less!  It’s important to me that we don’t just hear the same voices, that we involve the community, that we recognize that we are more than just our known teachers.

Finally I consider word count.  We have space for about 37,000 words in each issue but I probably won’t get to word count this week so we’ll skip talking about that for now.

It’s interesting, and I’ll tell this to the spinners I have to send the “thanks but no thanks” email to – sometimes a really great article doesn’t get in because it doesn’t work with the rest of the issue.  It could be fantastic but if there’s a gap in the issue and it doesn’t fill it, or if it’s too heavy or long or whatever, and I can’t make it work, I have to take the article that is lighter or shorter and gives the issue the roundness it needs.  It’s probably the hardest (and most interesting) part of my job.  Sometimes I am very happy with the results.  For instance, I think the Silk and Twist issues both are very full and round and diverse.  I don’t think the First issue or the Color issue  are as much, though I think the stuff in there is wonderful. That early in the process I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing yet and didn’t know how to really put together an issue. The winter issue is better but not quite as finished as the last two.  That just means I’m getting better at it, which is good. Hopefully I’ll just keep getting better at it!

But this week I’ll just decide on the articles and build my trello board.  My next work week I’ll deal with word counts, contracts, e-mailing authors, and all the in-house stuff. I’ll tell you about it as it comes.

And that’s what the editor-in-chief is doing this week.

But there’s more!  Here’s the less interesting stuff, in list form so I don’t lose you completely.


  • Stuff backorders and mail them (we got pre-paid envelopes so it’s a bit faster now!)
  • Resend copies of the magazine that got lost in the mail.
  • Answer e-mails.
  • Sell website ads for September!  Wanna buy one?  Only $15!
  • E-mail all the people that have a credit card on file with us (LYS and advertisers) because the recent Quickbooks update erased that info and I need to re-input it.
  • Sell the rest of the Winter 2014 issue ads there’s still some of every size except full page.
  • Send in payroll taxes to the government.  Government, if you’re reading this, thanks for understanding that I’m late, I’m sure you can see why, right? It’s busy up in here.
  • Secure a time and location for Winter shoot. It’s gotta be soon and it’s gotta be wintery!
  • The winter issue has a glaring gap so I need to whip up a short little article on worsted joins.
  • Start thinking about our Spinzilla team!
  • E-mail the LYSs and advertisers that are behind in paying us.  I’m reading (listening to on Audible while I work out at the gym) Gold Finch right now and there’s a whole section where he’s in Las Vegas with a gambling dad.  Me collecting from those that owe the magazine will be NOTHING like what happens in the book, I promise.  It mostly includes me saying “please”.

So that’s my work week.  What’s yours like?

ps.  if anyone wants to make me a graphic for this series (you can see the terrible one I made at the top of the page), I’m sure we could trade something good for it.  Please?



Sweater detail

Brighton top fiber give-a-way!

Man alive, did you just love Anne Podlesak’s new design in the Twist issue of PLY?  I adore it.  I also adore the woman that modeled it for us.  So wonderful.  We were just out shooting and out runs this woman with my book in hand asking me to sign it, saying she’d just taken a class with Lexi Boeger (Pluckyfluff), and that she absolutely loved spinning!  Of course we asked her to model and of course she was stunning.

Anne Podlesak used energized singles to create a ziggity-zag edge and very cool slanting stripes and now you can use the same exact fiber and create your own — merino/bamboo blend (60/40) in cool blues from Wooly Wonka Fibers!

Brighton sweater front

If you want to win this fiber (enough to do the exact sweater Marilou is wearing, here’s what you have to do — leave a short (or long) (or really long) review of the issue here  for the twist issue of PLY.  Just click on the review tab under the add to cart button.  Be honest, the winner will be chosen at random, not for the content of the review (though if your content contains links to diet sites, fake fancy handbags, or sites with more than one naked person, chances are  you won’t win).  Sound good?  If you’ve already reviewed it, you’re entered!

I’ll pick and announce the winner on Monday, the 11th (one solid week).





ps.  it’s okay if you put your review here too, but make sure you put it here!

Spinzilla — Team PLY!

Spinzilla — there are a whopping 56 teams of awesomeness this year and we’re one of them! Each team is allowed 25 spinners and those spinners spin spin spin from Oct 6-11th. Then all the yardage is counted up and whichever team has more — wins!  Of course it does other things too, good things — promotes spinning, encourages learning, facilitates experimentation, grows community — but also there is winning involved! WINNING!


PLY wants to win.  I think PLY can win.  Don’t you?  We’ve got some amazing spinners all slated to sign up to be on the team and I can’t wait!  I’ve got big plans for these spinners, lots of motivation and challenges and prizes!  And if we win, I mean, when we win, something awesome!

Sign ups start at 10am tomorrow!  Do you want to be on the team?  Can you commit to spinning like the dickens?  We don’t ask for bloody fingertips but some crossed eyes would be okay.



Maureen Burns, come on down!

Using a random number generator  and the comments on the last blog post, it turns out that luck was on the side of Maureen Brown tonight!  She’s our fiber winner!  Shipping out to her is 6 ounces of Spunky Eclectic’s Golddigger in merino/linen!

Stay tuned, we have the fiber from Anne Podlesak’s Brighton top to give away too!  Plus lots of other goodies.

And if you haven’t noticed that we now have cute little web ads over there  ————————->

Notice, darn it!  Do you want one?  They’re super adorable and very affordable!  If you don’t want one, consider supporting the companies that do advertise with us (just make sure you do it via the ad or they won’t know that their ad is working! Without them we couldn’t make PLY, plus they make cool stuff.




Fiber give-a-way — Elektron scarf!

I know that Bernadette, PLY’s photographer and my very best friend, is catch-your-breath-fall-down gorgeous (not to mention talented). It’s also true that anything, absolutely anything, would look beautiful on her. But given all of that, the Elektron scarf,  by Kristy Howell from issue #4, really is stunning.

howell3There’s something about the delicate lace, the slightly rustic character of the fiber (60% merino wool/ 40%flax), and the complex goldnenrod color, when combined, just shines.

Well guess what I have in my hot little hand?  Yep, enough of that exact fiber from Spunky Eclectic’s in gold digger — to spin and knit your very own Elektron.  Would you like it?  You would?  I thought so.  I feel like I know you so well.  And you know me right?  You know that I’d like to give it to you.  All of you.  But since I have just enough for one project, I’ve got an idea.

I need something from you.  I’m collecting spinning snapshots for a very special project in our next issue — the community issue.  I need lots.  Lots and lots.  Like hundreds!  So if you send me a digital snapshot of yourself or a friend/friends spinning (please make the subject of the e-mail snapshot) and then leave a comment on the blog saying you sent it and that you’re okay with us publishing it — you’ll be entered in our random drawing!

Don’t worry about it being the best shot ever, it’ll be very very small so nobody will notice if your yarn isn’t even or if you don’t have your good bra on.  However, I do need it to be of people spinning!

Okay?  Sound good?  Let’s do it!

Step 1. send a photo of yourself spinning  to Jacey (with snapshot as the subject of your email).

Step 2. comment on this blog post  that you sent me the snapshot.

Step 3. On Friday, July 11th, I’ll announce the winner and ship out the fiber!  



We made a mistake in Twist

We are sad to announce (here and on the Twist issue’s extra page) that we made a mistake. A big mistake.  Through no fault of the author, in the issue about twist, in the photos in article about measuring twist angle —  we totally did it wrong.


See, you’re supposed to line your yarn up with 0 (zero) degrees. As you can see in the magazine on the paper twist guide behind the purple one, 0 (zero) degrees is often in the middle of the twist guide. But not always.  On this purple one, it’s the horizontal line at the bottom.  And that’s where our trouble began.


Yep, we lined up our yarn with the mid-line. In this case, the midline is 90 degrees!  Not 0 (zero)! Which made the twist angle we reported INSANE! Seriously, a 75 degree angle of twist – that’d be something wouldn’t it?  Fishing line socks, anyone — they exfoliate and never wear out!


Above is how, for this particular twist gauge, we should have aligned the yarn, along the bottom, like a yarny horizon.  But we didn’t do it that way and we’re very very sorry.