Where Does Spinning Lead You?

zoom-leaf-400x264 I was so excited to interview Diane Varney for this new issue of PLY. Her book, Spinning Designer Yarns, has been such an inspiration to so many spinners.

I was excited to hear what inspired her and to find out what she was spinning now. Except she’s not spinning now, not at all. She spun enthusiastically for a time, wrote the book, taught for a couple of years and then quit spinning. I was stunned. There is so much love of spinning and fiber her book, I assumed she would still be doing it 20 years down the road. It turned out that for Diane spinning lead her to other things, embroidery, metal work, and ultimately painting.

I’ve thought about that a lot since I talked to Diane. For me spinning had lead me to other things, but they also include spinning. I started stitching and instantly wanted to use handspun. I’m picking up weaving again and won’t pretend anything other than I’m most curious about how my handspun will behave in the loom. Spinning is so enmeshed in my craft thinking that every new craft I try includes spinning in some way, rather than just being a stepping stone to to other media. Twenty years down my road I’m sure I’ll still be spinning.

Where has spinning led you?

Thin? It’s All Relative

Moreno Big Yarn 1 sm Our latest issue of PLY is all about spinning thin yarn. When I think about thin yarn I think about that finer-than-fine yarn, that’s really thread, some spinners can spin.

I say some spinners because so far I’m not one of them.


As I read through this issue I realized that thin is relative. I usually like to spin fattish yarn, aran weight or worsted so my particular thin is a 2-ply fingering weight yarn. One person’s thin isn’t another person’s thin and it doesn’t have to be. I’m happy with that. All of the knitting I’m doing lately is for fingering to aran weight yarn, so my thin-for-me yarn is perfect.

I’m sure I could spin finer if I had a burning desire or a particular project where I want to use a finer yarn. Actually, there may be finer yarn for me in the near future because my current fingering weight yarn isn’t quite fine enough for the stitching I’m getting more and more excited about.

ply blog fine

How fine will I go?


Studio Time

Sometimes I call my work room at home my studio. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I was in an actual recording studio with cameras and stuff!

I recorded two vidoes. One called Spin Thin all abut how to spin fine yarns and the other is Getting Even, all about spinning more consistently. It was scary and fun all at the same time.

Plus I had professional makeup with EYELASHES!



I took a lot of stuff.




There were plenty of samples.

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I was really nervous but I pushed through it.

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The camera guys were awesome. And funny.

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And then it was all over.

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The videos are being produced by Interweave and will be out in July and August of this year if all goes according to plan. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you when they are ready.


I was just browsing around this here website. It’s pretty, isn’t it?

I went to the page called Issues. Have you looked at it? With all of the covers of all of the issues so far all in one spot? Seriously, I think Ply has the most beautiful covers of any magazine. Yes, the articles are full of information and the photos inside are really pretty but the COVERS!


That’s from the Twist issue and it’s still my favorite.

Ok. That’s really all I was thinking about today. I gotta get back to work. Deadlines are looming and I don’t want to get the side eye from Jacey.

Wheels: New Mexico

I always find it so interesting and beautiful, the different wheels we spinners use. I love that there is a wheel for everyone.  I thought you might like to see the wheels that were at the workshop in New Mexico. There’s some well-known wheels and a few lesser known ones!

Did I tell you we have a new copy editor?

I know I told you we were on the lookout for a new copy editor, but did I tell you we hired one?  Her name is Karen Robinson (and I can totally put that online because you’ll see it on the masthead soon enough), and I couldn’t be happier.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  Not at all.  Within 48 hours of putting up the call for a copy editor we got over 200 applications.  As they came in, I broke them into 3 groups (so they’d be easier to manage) and replied with the test packet.  The test packet included our just-barely-there style sheet (the thing with all the specific-to-PLY rules that we try to follow), one article in 2 stages — edited by me (what they’d get if they had the job), and  the final, print version (so they could see what their job would entail), and another article edited by me that they had to copy-edit.

Within 3 days almost everyone had returned articles and I sat down to read.  And I sat some more.  And then I sat some more.  It was a lot of sitting and reading.  Some I could dismiss right away – not that they weren’t good – but just not the level of editing I was looking for (some too deep, some too shallow).  Some went into my maybe pile and a few went into my yes pile.  My plan was to go through the yes pile again first and if I didn’t find somebody, to reach into the maybe pile.  I can tell you that my maybe pile was about 25 and my yes pile was about 25.

That meant more sitting.

I never had to reach back into the maybe pile because the yes pile was full of amazing editors, most of which are more qualified to do my job than I am.  There were 6 that copy-edited the style sheet.  There were 3 that copy-edited my entire email.  There were 2 that copy-edited the finalized article that had already gone to print! It was a little intimidating, honestly.  I liked them all. Finally, I narrowed it down to 5.

Our of those 5, I couldn’t choose.  I felt like I’d just be closing my eyes, spinning,  and pointing, so I sent all 5 to Kitten.  I may be the one that reorganizes and restructures but he’s the one with the close eye and quick brain for editing.  I told him to choose which one he’d like to work with and while he said all 5 were good, Karen was his top pick.

And so it’s Karen.  And Karen rocks!

You’ll see her handy work in the next issue (the Leicester issue).  She’s going to make us so much better!

Give her a little welcome, won’t ya?

The Winter Issue

The Winter issue is on the way!  A few people will be getting it this week but with the holiday mail, it may be stalled.  I know I say this every time but this may be my favorite issue so far.  It’s definitely one of my favorite covers! Golding spindle with Greenwood  Fiberworks fiber!

PLY - Worsted Issue

You may have noticed that I don’t write for every issue (I mean actual articles, I always write copy). Sometimes I just find so many people that have so much to say and I’d rather give them a platform to say it, and sometimes, I just don’t have as many smart things to say as the people that propose articles.  I did, however, write for the worsted issue.  I wrote twice!

Audible: saving my gray matter

I used to be a big reader. I mean BIG. I used to go through several books a week. And then I met knitting. And then, I met spinning. And then even worse, I met PLY Magazine. My reading has dwindled to online help forums that claim to be able to help me with subscription software programs and how to get quickbooks to balance. No more high literature, YA fiction, or trashy vampire novels for me. Up until about 6 months ago, I could feel my brain atrophying, freezing synapses, shedding vocabulary words, breaking connections. Dulling.

And so I signed up for Audible! I don’t know if the breakdown of my gray matter has ceased but I’m far more entertained than I was half a year ago.

The first thing I listened to was the 40-hour whopper, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I loved it and am always amazed by authors that can weave characters and complex storylines together with such patienace and skill. I cheered, literally. I also teared. Signs of a good book.

Since then I’ve listened to Skippy Dies, which I did not love; Goldfinch, which I thought was wonderful; Destiny of the Republic, some non-fiction about the assignation of Garfield, because I really like learning things; A Short History of Nearly Everything, which, if you haven’t read, do it! The kids and I listen to this over and over again and each time I can feel the universe and my brain get bigger!; and the Stephen King novel, 11/22/63, which may be my very favorite. Have you read this? I haven’t read anything by King since I was a teenager, when I spent years wrapping myself in his particular brand of horror, and I’d forgotten what a brilliant write her is. This is a good book. A book I couldn’t turn off. So completely engrossing. If you’ve got 40 hours to spare, read this book!

Right now I’m listening to 3 books. The first is Gone Girl. The second is Inkspell by Funke, I’m listening to this in the mornings when both the older kids are in the car with me but it’s mostly for Olive, who’s almost 8 and loves fantasy. It’s the 2nd in the series and it’s read by Brendon Frasier and though I’ve never been a huge fan of his movies, he’s great reading books! The last book is what Utah and I listen to if we’re in the car alone, it’s Stephen King’s book On Writing. It’s read by King, which I had to get used to, but the words are thoughtful and I think we’re both learning something.

So, what are you reading? Any Audible recommendations for me? I go through them quick so lemme have ‘em!

Craftsy dreams

Did you know I used to make videos? Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement, I guess. I made one video and I had plans to make more. In fact, I had plans to make lots more, not just of me but of other spinners. Grand plans, that is, until I watched my first Craftsy class. I saw right away that they were doing a better job than I could do. They’re the future. I mean, it’s a recorded class, with all the bells and whistles and graphics and easy navigation and perfect sound and wonderful close-ups and different angles but it’s got something that no class on DVD can really have – community. That is, interaction with other students and the instructor. It’s the best of on- and off-line. It’s pretty brilliant and it quickly killed any designs I had on a spinning DVD empire. Killed it dead.

So as you might guess, I was pretty excited when my dream-killer approached me to do a Craftsy class. First I checked out how they treated their instructors and employees. Things like that are important and I’m a firm believer in business-karma. Turns out, pretty darned well. Invariably, everybody I know that did their own Craftsy class had nothing but brilliant things to say about the experience. Everyone I met that works/worked for the company had equally glowing things to say.

The real surprise came when I saw the breakdown of where the money goes. Having worked in different capacities for different companies, I’ve had a bit of experience with royalties and Craftsy is way ahead of anyone I’ve worked with! Sure, you get the standard 12% of net if Craftsy sells your class (via their vast advertising network, emails, or just on the site) but where they really shine is if you, the instructor, sell your own class! Yes, if somebody gets to craftsy via a link the instructor put up, say, like this one, the instructor get 30% of whatever class(es) that person enrolls in, even if they’re not the instructor’s class! It’s generous. It’s really generous. It’s what gets them great instructors.

And so I said yes. I may have squealed it, honestly.

You know what I found out? The other reason they get great instructors is that they treat them amazingly! So well. You never feel lost or alone or like you’re not sure what’s happening. They are a well-oiled craft-class-making machine over there. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the experience. Levi and I spent 4 days there and it was great! We loved it. I’d do another in a heartbeat. I’d do 10 more.

So, if you’re interested in a pretty darned comprehensive drafting class, check out my craftsy debut!