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!

PLY’s lunchtable

In the 2 days since my last blog post (the one about needing to hire 2 copy-editors), my inbox has had more “in” it’s “box” than ever!  From stay-at-home moms who love 2 things — kids and spinning, to ex-editors-in-chief, to librarians, to graduate students, to actual professional copy-editors, 210 people expressed interest in working with PLY.

That’s cool.

Really, it makes me feel like if I had to walk into my high school lunchroom now, somebody would make room at a table for me and I wouldn’t grab some french fries and a nuttybar and go sit in the gym doorway with my headphones on like it was a choice I was making.

Of course, I know it’s not really about me.  It’s not because I’m cool.  It’s because the magazine is wonderful.  Everyone that works on it (from the staff to the authors to the advertisers) really loves spinning and wants to spread the word.  Still, it maked me feel a little cool.  Though that feeling of coolness  quickly dispersed when I realized that about half the people emailing are more qualified to do my job than I am!

In fact, many of the names that came through my inbox I want to hire just so they will be my friends.  But hiring these 1-2 copy-editors is to make the magazine better, to make things less overwhelming and stressful.  I need great copy-editors.

And so today I sat down and emailed the bundle to everyone on the list, which was broken into 3 groups for sanity’s sake.  Of course, the first group I sent to got the wrong bundle.  By that I mean I sent them the test article and also the test article’s answer sheet (such as it is).

Of course, I fixed it by changing out the test article, and I guess it’s good for them to see how I operate now, all thumbs and double-spaces after my periods (.) — a habit I can’t break.  I literally have to do a search and replace after everything I write.  Muscle memory, the good and bad.  They say you can tell a person’s age from his/her typing.  If they put 2 spaces after periods, they’re over 30, if not, younger.

So now I wait.  I’m excited to see what comes back!  I’m going to read them blind, so I don’t get influenced by pretty names and lots of credentials.  I’m going to push down the impulse to be cool and do my job and I can’t wait to have 2 new people working on the magazine, they’re going to make it sooo cool.

We’re biggering!

I don’t think change is just the nature of a new business as much as the nature of all businesses, perhaps, all things. Things are changing here at PLY. We’re evolving and figuring and growing and learning and we’re biggering. We’ve moved up in a few areas. The biggest change is that we’re no longer using multiple excel sheets to clumsily keep track of all of our subscriptions. We’ve moved to a subscription management program, which, I hope, makes my and your life easier. Y’all can manage your account now – add issues, resubscribe, auto-subscribe, check how many issues left, change your address, etc. It’s the kind of organizational triumph that makes me a little weak-kneed.

And because, apparently, PLY evolving is really just us transferring work from us to you, we also moved to an online ad system to manage our website ads that allows you to manage your own ads! But it’s cool. Kinda like on Ravelry, you buy a spot, you upload it, link it, change it if you want, check your stats, etc. I’m really excited about it and am crossing my fingers it works like magic.

But what this blog post is really about is that PLY is hiring. Kind of. I need 1-2 freelance copy editors to be at my beck and call. Okay, not really my beck and call, but I do need you. I need you so much.

The Job

What I’d like is to find a couple of spinners that are copy-editing firecrackers. By the time the articles get to you they’ll have gone through the heavy editing and will be shaped organizationally so it’s not really heavy editing, more light-medium. It’ll involve double-checking accuracy, grammatical issues, article and issue consistency, fact checking, and pointing out any areas that might be unclear or confusing for readers/spinners. Of course, you’ll have access to the always evolving live PLY style sheet and a fairly over-the-top explanation of what each kind of article should look/read like. Because I’m nothing if not overly thorough.

If things go well, there’s also the possibility of doing a final proofread of the entire issue in PDF form before it goes to press. We’ll see, we might have to do some trust exercises before I make that leap.

The Schedule

You’ve probably guessed that it’s not a full time job but it’s steady in its hit-and-miss-ed-ness. Four times a year for about 3-4 weeks, we need you. Those times are pretty darned predictable though, essentially the months of February, May, August, and November. In each of those months we’ll have roughly 25 articles that need your red pen. Some of these articles are 800 words and others are 2500 words, some are instructional and some are informational, some are stories and some are other kinds of stories, but it works out to about 25,000 words edited in that given month which also works out to roughly 25 hours. I’m not married to the idea of it being 1 person or 2 people. I don’t want to overwhelm one person but I also don’t want to have too little work for more. That’s a detail we can talk about but if it’s a deal-breaker for you either way, be sure to mention that to me.

The Compensation

PLY likes to pay fairly. It’s something that’s very important to me. I wish we could pay everyone far more than we already do but we’re not even 2 years old so we do what we can do. The compensation for this job, right now and for the first issue edited is $25/hour. We’ve found that the copy-editing averages about an hour an article. If it all works out and the time is roughly what we think, the next issue we’ll raise it to $30/hour.   From there, if it continues to work out and we’re both happy, we’ll try and raise it to $40 by the end of 2015. I’m not saying we’ll stay at $40 forever, but I feel that’s pretty fair pay for the work and from there, we’ll raise it when we can.

Extras: for as long as you copy-edit for PLY you’ll have a subscription. For every issue you work on, you’ll be listed in the masthead.

The Process

If you’re interested in working with us, steady yourself, there’s a bit of a process. PLY is my baby. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done and I feel strongly that it’s important, that the knowledge the spinning community pours into it is going to stand longer than anything else I facilitate. It’s important to me and as such, I’m going to give you a few hoops. Forgive me. It’s all for the good of the magazine and my crazy, busy, never-stop brain.

The first step is to let me know you’re interested. Email me. Jacey at plymagazine dot com. I’ll send you a bundle of stuff. In that bundle you’ll find:

  1. A short set of questions about you and your experience.
  2. A copy of the PLY style sheet so you know what grammatical conventions we follow.
  3. Three versions of a past PLY article. The first version is as it came to me, the original. The second version is after I edited it (essentially how it would come to you). The third version is the final version, the version that went to print (essentially what we’d like you to do to the articles).
  4. One article that I’ve edited but needs to be copy edited by you. Please turn on track changes and save it by adding your name to the end in place of mine.

If I get lots of people that are amazing and perfect and I can’t decide, I’ll send out one more short piece to be edited.

I’d like to get this started now. In fact, if it works out, I’d like to have somebody do a bit of editing the last week of November or first week of December (I know that’s not really the time-frame I set above, but I’d like to see how it goes, I could use the help, and maybe a bit of holiday cash is not a bad thing, right?). So let’s start! Yes, let’s do!

Cover of the Community Issue

You’re on the cover of PLY!

The newest issue of PLY Magazine is arriving in mail boxes this week.  One of my favorite things about PLY is our covers.  I just love them.  This one is no different.  Whenever I get a new issue, I line them all up on the kitchen table, in order, and smile.  Then I stack them and smile at the spines.  This cover was more troublesome than the rest.  I was flummoxed as to what would say “Community issue”.  All kinds of terrible ideas came to mind and I was afraid we’d have to go with one of them.  That’s right, I almost had to ask Bernadette to shoot a spinning circle, sans spinners.  Just the wheels, from above.  Yeah, she would have cried (she’s sensitive like that).  Then my wonderful Levi came up with an idea.  He wanted me to gather as many spinning snapshots of our spinning community as possible and he’de make a mosaic of the world, this side and that side, for the covers.

And that’s what we did.  I begged y’all for photos, you delivered, and so did he. So grab a magnifying glass and check yourself out!  Can you find yourself (or your yarn, cat, dog, wheel, kid etc)?

Community issue of PLY





Spinzilla team roster: Alice Hollowed (aka spinalot)

Name: alice hollowed

Spinning nickname: spinalot

years spinning: 3 year

Location: chicago

Spinning tool of choice for spinzilla: matchless

Favorite weight of yarn: worsted

Favorite fiber for fast spinning: romney

Favorite treat to eat while spinning: Coffee and beer

Project you’ll be spinning for: Sweater

Personal Spinzilla goal: 6000 yds

I live on the northside of chicago (near wrigley field) with my four kids, 3 chickens, 2 chinchillas, 1 cat, and 40 silk moths ( for another couple of days).  I homeschool, garden, can, compost, cook, throw pottery,  and make yarn. I ‘ve mastered the technique of spinning with a sleeping or nursing baby.  I also try to knit and crochet but little hands and paws keep trying to help.

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!

handspun yarn and shawl

PLY’s wishlist for photoshoots

You may have noticed that we try to do most of the photography in  house.  That’s not just because Bernadette has mad photo skills, but also because I really think it gives an issue a cohesive, beautiful feel.  Of course, there are always things we can’t shoot — photos about a location, about a person, about a festival, or about a technique we just don’t know at all.  Generally though, we try and shoot as much as we can.

A problem we run into is that sometimes we don’t have the equipment needed to bring to life a particular article.  For instance, see that little wpi tool in the photo?, the cute little sheepie one from The Clay Sheep?  I had to use that in 2 back to back issues because I didn’t have another WPI tool!  Not that I minded, it’s super adorable, but still, you see what I mean.

We’re pretty solidly stocked on wheels, PLY now has a large assortment of wheels so if an author mentions a wheel, we’re likely to be able to use it in the photoshoot.  If we don’t have the model, we at least have the make, you know?  Things we’re not so stocked on is all the other stuff, some big, some small.  So, here’s just some of the things we wish we had on hand for photoshoots, our wishlist, if you will:

  • wool combs: 4-pitch and 2-pitch; english, viking, dutch
  • mini wool combs
  • flickers
  • hand cards
  • small hackle
  • various types of spindles (we really need support, russian, turkish, navajo, tahkli, and bottom whorls)
  • various measuring tools –tpi, wpi ect
  • cute spinning things that enhance photos

Now it’s true that PLY could buy some of these things, but we run a pretty tight ship over here.  In order to keep our ad to content ratio low low low, we don’t really have a budget for tools yet.  Right now we’re saving for subscription management software (currently we do it all by hand).  But it’s not only that our ship is tight, it’s also that we really love supporting small indie companies, companies that support spinners, companies that support us.  We like being able to list them on the Independent Spinner page when we use one of their products in our photos. We like that we get to spread the word.

So if you’d like to see your product on the pages of PLY, let’s see what we can do!  Check out this page to learn more about it!



PLY’s got some new digs

This is the nicest website I’ve ever been allowed to post on.  Seriously.  It’s nice.  Right?  After a year, 5 issues to be exact, I decided it was time.  The magazine deserved a website that reflected how awesome it is, how hard everybody involved in it works, how much great information it holds,  and now that is what it has.  I keep going to other websites and then coming back, pretending to see it for the first time.  I love it that much.  Miss Jessica Becker deserves all the adoration and adulation.  She certainly has mine.

Now that we’ve got a rockin’ website, we’re going to use it!  There are a few of us that you’ll see popping up around the blog, keeping you informed about what we’re doing, what’s happening with the photography, the production, the printing.  We’re also going to put all of our calls for submissions here (check out the moodboard page), our tipjar question (yep, there’s a page for that too), our call for dyers, spinners, and designers.  And give-a-ways!  Yes, we’re going to give away stuff.  To you!  Like the fiber for projects in the issue. By fiber, I mean, the exact same fiber used in the issue.  Cool, right?  We always get fantastic dyers with great fibers so we’re going to share that with you (and give our small businesses a little attention at the same time).

In short, expect this blog to be used. Just watch and see.