Spinzilla team roster: Kate Blaney (aka puni goddess!)

KateofGS_xlargeName: Kate Blaney

Spinning nickname: “Puni Goddess”

Years spinning: 6.5 years

Location: My Fortress of Wool in Frederick MD

Spinning tool of choice for Spinzilla: Don’t make me choose! It is a tie between my Hansen miniSpinner & my Spanish Peacock supported spindles (of which…I own a lot of…)

Favorite weight of yarn: I like to change it up, but my favorite is fingering or sport weight

Favorite fiber for fast spinning: Merino Yak Silk blends carded into punis or drumcarded tribbles

Favorite treat to eat while spinning: Flavored almonds, black cherries and Jarlsberg cheese! (basically anything that you can grab a small handful of while spinning. I don’t have time to *stop* for food!)

Project you’ll be spinning for: I get bored easily spinning more than 2-4 oz of the same colorway at a time. Might break up a sweater quantity in between funky yarns. Or not. Just gonna go with what looks fun.

Personal Spinzilla goal: Minimum of 8,000 yds (hoping for over 10,000 yds!).

 I was a knitter first, then I learned how to spin. So, eventually I became a spinner who sometimes knit. Now I am a spinner who rarely knits and owns Gourmet Stash, my fiber arts business. Needless to say, my house is overflowing with wool. You really can’t go into a room without seeing the byproducts of my carding everywhere, aka wool-sparkle dust bunnies. Those babies are EVERYWHERE. Doormat outside of my house, in the flower beds, on my car, in the corners of the bathrooms. Basically, don’t be surprised if you leave my home with one or two of the lil sparkly guys hitching a ride back to your house.

Spinzilla team roster: Bonny Acklin, aka Bonfiber!

bonnyName: Bonny Acklin

Spinning nickname: bonfiber

Years spinning: 4

Location: Northwest Missouri

Spinning tool of choice for spinzillaLendrum Original DT

Favorite weight of yarn: Fingering.DK …since I love knitting socks and shawls

Favorite fiber for fast spinning: anything crimpy, roving,  batts and rolags

Favorite treat to drink while spinning: beer with lime!

Project you’ll be spinning for: 3 different shawls, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kalimna-shawl , http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pebble-beach-shawlette and http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/let-your-heart-unwind

Personal Spinzilla goal: I’ve never every participated in a spinning competition. I have no clue what to say in yards. So let’s say my goal is to spin as much and as fast as I possibly can. If I’m not at work, eating or sleeping, I’ll be spinning!

Personal bio: I grew up in the city but a cowboy stole my heart and now I’m a country girl. I live in rural Northwest Missouri on a farm with my hubby, 2 dogs and 10 horses.

As a child I hated school and was only interested in art. I’m so lucky to have parents who fostered my creative talents as I was growing up. Now I’m an art teacher. Teaching art, I’ve dabbled in every medium….fibers is the only one I’ve stuck with for any length of time.  While I love to spin, knit and crochet (a little), I’m most intrigued with dyeing fiber. I’m never bored when I’m standing over the dye pot! I have a little Etsy shop…https://www.etsy.com/shop/bonfiber

So, since I’ve never played a team sport in my life, no NEVER! I’m considering this my first team experience. I’m ready to spin until I drop!

Twist cover

PLY like an eagle


Spinzilla invited me to be part of their 2015 blog tour.  I was assigned the topic of plying and if there’s anything I know, it’s plying.  I’ve plied even, I’ve plied off-tensioned, I’ve plied with a push up and a squiggle, I’ve plied the same yarn this way and that way and over and over.  I used to devote one workday a week to experimental plying. Once I plied a yarn 6 times, just to see what would happen.

Yep, it’s no secret that I’ve made my career off of plying, from the beginning to now and into the foreseeable future.  My first years selling yarn, teaching and writing were based on plying.  Man alive did I love spinning coils.  It’s all I wanted to do for a while.  Did I ever tell you how I learned?  It was way back before etsy and ravelry.  People were still using LJ (live journal) and I happened upon a photo of a yarn by Adrian Bazilia.  I’d been spinning straight and sturdy yarn for 2 years and here was this poppy, fun yarn that sung to my spinning soul.  I e-mailed her and asked her how she accomplished such a feat.  She (gracefully, for I was a complete stranger asking her to write a tutorial for me when she’d rather be spinning, canning, and dying fiber) sent me a quick run down of the steps needed to coil .*

plycoilscover1The first 5 years of my spinning career was all about plying.  I supported a family of 3 and then 4 with what Esther Rodgers now calls “wild-plied yarns” but what I called “textured spinning” in an attempt to escape the moniker “art yarn”.  I spun 6 hours a day 5 days a week and we scraped by. I mean, seriously scraped by. Of course, Sit and Spin came and went and then articles for Spin Off (and my first cover!).  Thank goodness for Spin Off!  I really feel like it was due to that long-running magazine that current-day textured spinning got legitimatized in the eyes of the larger spinning community.  And then Spin Art.  All the while, my adventures with plying stayed the course.

For me, for a long while, plying was about texture and balance.  I was really concerned with balance.  I remember telling the Yarn Harlot once, on a shuttle to Madrona, that I felt like everything I spun must be balanced.  She asked me why I hated singles so much and I replied that it wasn’t that I hated singles, it’s that I felt like the yarns I was spinning, teaching, basing my career on, were assumed by many to be novelty, unbalance-able, unworkable, and to be taken seriously I needed to show everyone that everything that came off my wheel could hang perfectly straight and was never tension-set.  She told me that was silly.  She also told me that wearing a sweater the first hour of class until everyone realized I was nice before I took it off and revealed my tattoo-covered arms, was silly too.

She was right on both accounts.

Just like it took me years to find comfort in spinning longdraw, it took me a long time to understand the subtlety of plying.  Back before the Yarn Harlot took me to task for not giving fiber people enough credit, both as spinners and as people, I  didn’t realize that different yarns required different plying (outside of textured techniques, of course). I was long into spinning before I knew very much.  Here’s a few things I’ve picked up about plying:

Yarn shouldn’t come off bobbin hanging straight and limp. I used to feel such a swell of pride taking my yarn off my bobbin seeing no twist in the skein. Limp and flaccid, bah. That’s not how we want our yarns! Give it some life!  Let that baby have a bit more twist. You want it coming off the bobbin with a twist or 2 in the skein. It’ll balance out in the end but you’ll have a yarn that feels and looks better, a yarn that says “I’m alive!!

Woolen and worsted yarns don’t’ get the same amount of ply twist.  It’s true.  A woolen yarn’s structure is in the PLY, that’s what really holds that light and fluffy thing together.  It’s what gives it strength and the ability to ward off the dreaded pill.  It needs more ply-twist than singles-twist.  For reals.  Worsted yarn, on the other hand, has it’s structure in the single and it wants less ply-twist, relatively speaking.  Truth.

The tighter the ply, the better the wear (not the tighter that single, that way lies rope, my friends).

plysweater1Oh my, this one took seeing my sweet Olive wearing a handspun, handknit sweater to really sink in.  Spun out of the softest merino but with lots of singles-twist for (I thought) better wear and then a balancing amount of ply-twist, it was lovely to look at.  To look at.  When had her put the jacket on, baby, did we both have a surprise!  A surprising amount of strength was necessary to get her arms down by her side. I pushed them down and they popped right back up! Look how she has to hold on to the body of the sweater to keep her arms down! I managed to get a couple of shots off before she shed the thick, stiff sweater complaining of ickiness.

Remember when I said it doesn’t always have to be perfectly balanced? if current-jacey-spinner could talk to past-jacey-spinner this is what I’d say – dude, don’t increase your single- twist, increase your ply-twist or your going to have to store that sweater, unworn for the rest of your life and when you die, it’ll get passed down and down and everyone will wonder how you ever ran a spinning magazine because it’ll be the only example of your spinning left since nobody ever wore or touched the sweater more than once, and that, past-jacey-spinner, is not the example of your spinning you want standing the test of time.  Also, it’s okay to take off your sweater, especially if it’s hot, they don’t mind.


These two yarns, for instance, are the same fiber, the same dye-job, the same ypp!  The only difference is that the one on the right has lots of singles-twist and is plied to balance and the one on the left has smaller amount of singles-twist but the same amount of ply-twist as the other!  That’s right, the ply-twist amounts are the same.  If you could feel these yarns, one would make you swoon while the other would make you avert your eyes and secretly wonder how I manage to fill any class, spinning cord-y yarn like that!

The more plies in a yarn, the less ply-twist it takes to reach balance (I knew this before Patsy Z’s illuminating article, but just barely).  Math is cool, right?


So don’t think I hate singles yarns.  I love singles yarns!  I just love plying too.  Theoretically, you could say that singles yarns are about the individual and Plying is about the team. It’s part of the reason I named the magazine PLY.  PLYing is about texture and balance and strength and bringing different things together so they can lean and benefit and support.  And if, in 10 years time, I wrote another post about plying, I’m sure the things I will have learned since now will be far more than I’ve learned so far.  That’s the way of spinning, the more you learn, the father you have to go, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, right?

Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals compete in a friendly challenge to see who can spin the most yarn in a week! Spinzilla team registration is open until September 22. The Ply team is full, but there are plenty of teams that still need you! There will be prizes! Click here to register.  One hundred percent of your registration fee will go to the NeedleArts Mentoring Program.  For more information, see their FAQ page.

* Huh, I’ve never put that together before.  The first time I asked a stranger to share their spinning know-how with me, she did.  Just like that.  I asked, she told.  Must have sunk in on some level I didn’t realize because that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.  Silly me to have never seen that, thanks, Adrian!


Spinzilla team roster: Christina Bowers

plycuriousName: Christina

Spinning nickname: Rogue of Wool

years spinning: 15

Location: Denver, CO on my bike or wheel or, you know, in bed sometimes.

Spinning tool of choice for spinzilla: trusty old Ashford Traveller, for the gypsy girl

Favorite weight of yarn: I prefer any weight depending on the style of yarn, but comfort knitting is usually sport or dk

Favorite fiber for fast spinning: Shetland! It flies along with fast spinning.

Favorite treat to eat while spinning: Anything? Cookies are nice when you can get them, but mostly I snack on fresh fruit.

Project you’ll be spinning for: mostly for my shop, but I’d love to spin another sweaters quantity.

Personal Spinzilla goal: 12,000! I spun just under 9,000 last year and I think pushing it will be a breeze since I’ll be leaving plying for After this year. Maybe I’ll spin more.

Personal bio: I enjoy spinning a variety of traditional and art yarns as well as dyeing and preparing my own fiber (purchased, not raised myself – apartment!) for spinning. I recently opened an Etsy shop called PlyCurious where I sell my custom luxury handspun yarns. I’ve taught spinning and knitting in small groups and one-on-one for years (ultimate focus), but now I want to focus on creating a sustainable and supportive business around my handspun yarn.

I enjoy many other activities aside from spinning. I’ve been an avid knitter for as long as I’ve been spinning and enjoy spinning yarn for a project, then designing the project as I go for a custom, one of a kind item! I love to crochet and sew as well, but my heart lies with wool. I dabble in various other crafts for fun or practical purposes.

I’m a fast, dare devil, fixed gear cyclist (probably one of the few that follow traffic laws…) and I love traversing the trails in Colorado, where I currently make my home. I was in a stable, loving relationship for 18 years before I met my boyfriend, Jesse, but my cat likes him too, so we all live together now in a big happy family. I love reading books (audio cds are the spinners companion), listening to music, cycling, swimming in the ocean, and cooking amazing, healthy meals. Also, eating cookies.

Spinzilla team roster: Kat Christensen

KatName: Kat

Spinning nickname: AsKatKnits (and spins)

years spinning: ohmigosh – since 2007! How time flies when you are having fun!

Location: Pittsburgh PA

Spinning tool of choice for spinzilla: Schacht Matchless

Favorite weight of yarn: Light fingering, but always working towards my penultimate yarn weight, a lovely gossamer lace weight.

Favorite fiber for fast spinning: Something long draw… I am not super fast but I hope to learn some tricks to gain speed before Spinzilla starts!

Favorite treat to eat while spinning: Eat?  Who has time to eat?? However, since beer is a food group – I love a good Guinness!

Project you’ll be spinning for: Oh my, where is my list? Hedgehog Fibers just released a new pattern – Lucidity – so that has quickly moved to the list. I also want to spin to knit Hitoftude. I just ordered some fiber from Spunky Eclectic to spin Helmi, and if I can really rock it out, I would love to start spinning for a Lush Cardigan.

Personal Spinzilla goal: To spin 3 lbs of fiber – a lofty goal, but I am going to try!

Personal bio:  I have been autographed by Abby Franquemont, I have laughed and laughed with Jillian, but the best ever was spending the night with Beth Smith in her yarn shop. Okay, on a serious note, I absolutely love wool – spring, summer, winter, or fall. It is my go to fiber for all times. I am wildly liberal and an NPR junkie. I love to cook and garden. However, housekeeping is the bane of my existance. I am dipping my toes in teaching some beginning spinning classes at my LYS. I am blessed to be able to work from home. I have 3 grown children and one small brown dog – Sherman the Pug. He is blissfully content to sit with me whether I knit or spin. Life is indeed very good.

Let the games begin because my Netflix queue is full and I am ready to spin!

Spinzilla team roster: Lydia Martin

lydiaSpinzilla: PLY Magazine Team Roster — Lydia Martin

Spinning nickname: Dream Catcher

years spinning: One… and growing

Location: Fort Collins

Spinning tool of choice for spinzilla: Top Gun Soundtrack

Favorite weight of yarn: The one that is lightest on my pocketbook

Favorite fiber for fast spinning: Whatever is prepped into easy to grab rolags

Favorite treat to drink while spinning: Tall Dark Stouts

Project you’ll be spinning for: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-age-of-brass-and-steam-kerchief and http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bloomsbury-7 

Personal Spinzilla goal: Avoid a sore bum and impress Kenny Loggins as I treadle into the “Danger Zone”

Personal bio:  I’m a Rocky Mountain native, wife, mama to two wee princesses, artist, tea drinker, moon gazer, aspiring bird identifier, trail blazer, nature devotee and lover of creativity.

I’m a self-taught knitter who ‘accidentally’ stumbled into spinning when I found two raw packaged fleeces (purchased in New Zealand eons ago) in my neighbors garbage pile on trash day. (I just may, or may not, be an occasional dumpster diver… don’t judge!) Determined to build my yarn stash, I found a spinning class at my LYS. From that point on I was in love! It is now a common occurrence that I will go to bed dreaming of spinning and fiber.