Spinning as Meditation: A Practice in Mindfulness

Much has been written about finding time for ourselves. Especially during the COVID-19 lockdown in the United States, I saw many articles discussing the ways in which one can take advantage of the downtime. “Learn a new hobby!” many suggested. “Read these books this week!” I saw, too. Back when we thought the pandemic would last a whopping two weeks, we saw people find new ways of spending their time. 

Spin Something Lofty on Your Spindles

Let’s face it. Comfort spinning is a thing. So I turn to my wall of tubs – 42 tubs stacked against the west wall of my bedroom, my entire stash and most of my spindles, all that remains after serious destashing and moving halfway across the United States during the first summer of Covid.

Ask Jacey: Yarn Competition

Jean wants to beat her best friend in the game of yarn
Jacey, my best fiber friend makes yarn that’s so much nicer than my yarn. We can use the same fiber, the same colorway, and each spin it into a worsted 2-ply yarn. Her yarn turns out soft and amazing and mine is hard, scratchy, and not amazing. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?! Jean
Let me tell you a story that happened to me not that many years ago (12 years exactly, in fact). I dyed 8 oz of commercially processed organic Merino combed top and spun it with a worsted, short-forward draft. The resulting yarn was worsted in both style and weight and also, I thought, the most beautiful in the world. This was before PLY, by the way. To my immense joy, it was spot-on balanced. I mean, it hung in the quintessential loop with not even the slightest inclination of turning left or right. I loved it. Even now, when I look at the pictures, my breath catches a bit in my throat. Yarn does that to us, right?
Then I knit it up. I knit it into my knitting hero Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Sweater. You’ve made at least one, right? If not, stop reading this for a couple hours and whip one out – you won’t be sorry. Actually, finish reading this first as it might save your sweater. The few hours I spent knitting it were joyous (except for a little nagging thought, but we spinners/knitters are sometimes good at ignoring those nagging little thought, aren’t we?). A smart and slightly mysterious pattern coupled with the most gorgeous yarn in existence – how could it not be euphoric? Well, good thing I enjoyed those few hours because once the sweater was done, my bliss faded to confusion and eventually woe.
The sweater was attractive enough but, truth be told, a more fitting name would be the Baby Surprise Suit of Armor. It was thick, it was hard, and it was stiff: words suited for so many things in this world besides knitting, to be sure. It was even a bit crunchy. When I went back to feel the original fiber, I was even more confused – the combed Merino top was about the softest fiber I’d ever felt and perfect for a small, picky kid. Next, I moved onto the yarn. That’s when I let the nagging thought take root and took a more honest look at this gorgeous yarn. I realized that while it was aesthetically pleasing – perhaps a 9 or a 10 – when it came to tactile appeal, it plummeted to a 3 or a 4. (I reserve 1s and 2s for yarns that might actually puncture or cut you.)
You might initially be attracted to this yarn, but once you spent a little time handling it, you’d have to have a couple of glasses of wine before you’d take it home with you.

Of course, my kiddo was thrilled with their sweater in theory, but when it came time to pick something out to wear, their tiny pudgy hand never reached for it. In the picture, you can see the stiffness and the lack of drape; what you can’t see is the scratchiness and the crunchiness. It’s quite unpleasant. In fact, I had to help them lower their arms for the shot; otherwise, the yarn caused them to stick straight out to the side like a tiny cheerleader.

So what did I do wrong? How did I take soft, scrunchable fiber and turn it into the equivalent of a Baby Surprise Hairshirt? It’s probably the same thing you’re doing – spinning the heck out of it.

That’s it! Too much twist. Too much twist in the singles, to be precise. All yarns spun from the same fiber using the same technique are not created equal, my spinning friend. I don’t care if your yarn turns out perfectly even, smooth, and balanced – it can still feel like it fell out of the scratchy tree and hit every crunchy branch on the way down.

Here’s the truth dropping: The feel and hand of your plied yarn lies mostly with the twist in your singles. Too much singles twist can make it absolute cord. Rope, even. Follow me for a second because this is the crux of the matter. If you spin a single with a low to moderate amount of twist, your yarn has a better chance of ending up soft no matter how much ply twist you subject it to. If you spin a yarn with scads and scads of singles twist, no matter how little or how much ply twist you add, that yarn will be hard, crunchy, and stiff. It’s true. Look at these yarns:

Both are Merino wool spun worsted and plied to balance. The only difference is the yarn on the right has less singles (and it follows, it’s true, less ply) twist, and the one on the left has lots more. Even without touching them, you can see the difference, right?

As always, though, I recommend you don’t take my word for it – try it out. Take an hour and spin a few samples. Spinning samples and experimenting expands our knowledge of the craft. Try the following:

  1. Spin 2 singles with low to medium twist.
  2. Ply half of each together until they reach balance or just barely beyond. Remove your yarn and mark it “low single, balanced.”
  3. Ply the other halves of the low-twist singles together employing the “treadle like the wind” technique. It will take them way past balance, but we’re experimenting, so just go with it. Mark it “low single, high ply.” 

You’ll find that these 2 yarns with their low-twist singles will be fairly soft and pliable, like your fiber. Now try the following:

  1. Spin another 2 singles, but this time, give them heaps of singles twist.
  2. Ply half of each together until they reach balance or just barely beyond. Wind this plied yarn off and mark it “high single, balanced.”
  3. For the other halves of the singles, ply lightly, with just a bit of ply twist. This yarn won’t be balanced, but that’s okay. Wind it off and mark it “high single, low ply.”

Both of these yarns, with their high-twist singles, will be harder and scratchier than your fiber, regardless of the amount of ply twist present.

See!? The feel and drape of your plied yarn is highly reliant on the twist amount in your singles. No matter the ply twist, lower singles twist will result in a yarn that is softer than high singles twist.

So, Jean, that’s it. If you want your yarn to be more like your pal’s, try putting less singles twist in it (and for balance, less ply twist as well). To get less twist, set your wheel on a bigger pulley, move your hands faster, or treadle your feet slower.

Also, subscribe to PLY, it’s pretty good.


PS. Watch a video to go with this Ask JaceyHERE!

PPS. Got a question for Jacey? Ask any time, HERE!

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The Power of Creation!

Words and photos by Cat Ellen


The power of creation. The very phrase could conjure up poetic descriptions of galaxies swirling into being or an intimate up-close look at new generations born and raised, whether children or small animals. For others, the word creation evokes the craftroom and the workbench, raw materials, stash, tools, and supplies. It can mean warm kitchens and bubbling hearths, comfort foods, and innovative new ideas.

Those of us who create handmade textiles have a strong sense of what it takes to process a fleece; spin a thread; weave a cloth; create a reliable dye bath from natural materials; hand-stitch, design, and knit a garment; or otherwise keep our families and loved ones in blankets and clothing or protected against the elements. We can recognize a handknit scarf at 20 paces and have probably held long discussions explaining the differences between crochet, knitting, and woven techniques.

If we focus on the word power, for some this means electricity, new gadgets, and space-age technology, manufacturing, and automation. How can I rev up this engine faster? More efficiently? How fast can I cook this meal? How soon can I get this delivered? Or more broadly, can I have power over my bills, my email, my social media, my laundry, my education, my retirement?

Sometimes, I find myself pondering whether every advancement is really worth it. My social media feed is filled with memes asking, “Are you old enough to remember?” featuring pictures of tools for home repair, home production, or manual handiwork. And I have friends dedicated to home sufficiency in gardening, canning, woodworking, and sewing. They joke about the zombie apocalypse and disaster recovery planning, including who needs to be part of any recovery team. The crafty, textiles friends are tagged to help clothe us when we need to rebuild civilization.

Simply creating things with my hands is power. It’s power over the capitalistic, consumer world I live in. Rather than be a passive victim and slave to the current fashion world, instead I make design decisions based on my own artistic preferences. I choose what color is in this season, possibly based on how my friend’s crop of dyestuffs grew in her garden. Or maybe I’m supporting a local dyer I only know over the internet, but we’ve commiserated over bouts with the flu or celebrating who just finished and defended their PhD thesis. All the while, we’re knitting for the holiday season or we’re spinning for a wedding shawl or we’re fermenting an indigo pot out back.

If you’ve been raised in a western textiles tradition, you may have only been taught about tool-based solutions. Which wheel should I buy to spin bulky? Do I need a new flyer to spin for this lace project? Which vendor has the best dyes for my protein fibers? Which loom should I buy, and how many various dents do I need? Can I use this loom for my tablet weaving project, or do I need a different-sized, different-shaped loom? Should I buy a warping board and a niddy noddy and a spinning weasel?

But what if my solutions were process based rather than tool based? Could I learn to spin with simpler tools? Could I weave with nothing much more than a few sticks, dexterity, and quite a bit of practice and memorization?[1]

When you think about weaving at its core, it is simply a matter of wrapping strings around a collection of sticks and then manipulating strings among other strings. If you describe your loom, you’re telling me what shape your sticks have been arranged in: backstrap loom, inkle loom, rigid heddle loom, warp-weighted loom, four-harness – all are just descriptions of the shape of the sticks where you’ll manipulate the strings. I needed to demonstrate this description in a park one time, so I gathered a handful of sticks. I made some string on my drop spindle and proceeded to warp a small sampler. Need some heddles? Make more string. I didn’t need money or a large piece of equipment. I can make fabric with sticks and string.

I am still learning how to manipulate strings – whether described as backstrap weaving or card weaving, the weaving complexity is not defined by how many thousands of dollars I spent on tools nor how large a workshop I need to dedicate to my craft. The power of my creation is limited only by the hours I put into my skill development, the research put into learning from those who have come before me, and the creativity of my own innovation.

Recently, a musician friend passed away. In lieu of a memorial service, we held a Life Celebration event. Dozens of friends showed up to sing, play music, and celebrate our friend’s life. I’d left the house without any spinning, but another friend was destashing art supplies from her home. I arrived at the event, and she handed me 4 ounces of wool. All I needed was a stick, which we found on the grounds of this industrial park. I spent a happy 5 hours twirling a stick and some fluff and making yarn.

Go ahead. Take all my worldly spinning goods. I will bounce back immediately. There’s always another stick somewhere. The power of my creation, of my creativity, is not limited by my possessions. Instead, I find an exciting challenge in taking scraps and creating something new. The problem fleece someone thought was only good for mulch? I can soak it in cold water, pick it clean, spin it by hand, and dye it with cochineal, and you would never know the wool wasn’t originally the best in the stash.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be disappointed at the limit of our budgets or our current collection of tools, we have the power to do more than just be a consumer. We are makers.

That’s the power of creation: making something greater than the sum of its parts.

Cat Ellen has been spinning for about 20 years and prefers a drop spindle over anything else. When not teaching people to make string from sticks and fluff, she can be found teaching American Tribal Style bellydance or copyediting performance material for the Santa community.

[1] I credit Abby Franquemont for teaching me to distinguish between tool-based and process-based solutions at PlyAway 2 in 2017.

Spinning Confession: I Write On My Bobbins


bobbins PLY

Yes, you read that right. I take a brand new piece of equipment that costs between $30 & $50 and write on it. With a Sharpie. And it keeps me sane. My spinning tools are just that, tools that I use to make yarn.

It took me a long time to finally break down and write on a bobbin. I remember exactly when, too. It was at SOAR in a Kathryn Alexander class on energized singles. We had to spin some singles Z and some singles S. I tried to keep S on one side of my chair and Z on the other, but they kept rolling together.

Kathryn sees my struggle, comes over and says, “Just write on them, with a pencil, S or Z”.  I did and have never looked back.

All of my bobbins have been weighed and marked with their empty weight. With that information I can weigh my bobbin mid-spin, subtract the empty weight and know how much yarn I’ve spun so far.

I mark my bobbins for direction of spin, especially when I’m making crepes or cable yarns.

The orange sticker on the Schacht bobbin in the photo is a note to tell me where in a multi-color, multi-ply, multi-yarn project this bobbin belongs.

Storage bobbins get all of the writing love. The one in the photo reminds me that it weighs .65 ounces empty, the yarn on it is Vegetable Medley (from Into the Whirled) and I spun it to chain ply. When I pull it out of my spinning basket I know exactly what it’s for.

I often mark my bobbins with the name of the project, article, sample that the yarn is destined to be since I work on several projects at the same time.

Writing on my bobbins saves me so much time, stress and mental space. I rarely  have to play the ‘what’s on this bobbin’ game.

Now I just have to get better at erasing all the project info off of my bobbins when I’m done with the yarn!

Maximizing Yardage for Spinning Cotton

Susan Hector visits the blog today with an explanation of how she maximizes her yardage when spinning cotton on spinning tools that don’t have a lot of storage capacity for singles. Thanks so much for being here, Susan!

I spin a lot of cotton.  Living in sunny and warm San Diego, it makes sense.  I spin Sea Island cotton, Arizona short and long staple cotton, and naturally colored cotton from California and South America.  I even grow my own cotton and spin it – I have over a dozen Acala cotton bushes in the back yard, watered with washing machine rinse water and fertilized with our compost. I dye cotton that is white and brown into the most astonishing range of indigo shades.  I generally weave with the cotton I spin and dye, although I have done some knitted lace collars and scarves.

Singles on a driven spindle wheel. A paper straw quill was used on the spindle to hold the spun singles yarn.

Singles on a driven spindle wheel. A paper straw quill was used on the spindle to hold the spun singles yarn.

I spin the cotton on a variety of tools: charkhas/driven spindle wheels, Akha spindles, feather weight top whorl spindles, a tahkli and other supported spindles – and also on fast flyer wheels.  With the variety of tools I use to spin cotton, I needed to come up with a way to organize and maximize the plying process.  My observation has been that when using a handspindle or driven-spindle wheel the amount of cotton you can get from one “spindle-full” is rather small.  I was constantly emptying the spindle and had to manipulate relatively short lengths to store and ply.  I had lots of quills and bobbins hanging around with resulting small skeins that were difficult to knit or weave with.  Tangles and poor singles quality were also common when trying to ply from quills or spindles.  I found a better way to do it.

Preparing the Singles

Removing the singles from the quill onto a ball. I use an old knitting needle to hold the quill.

Removing the singles from the quill onto a ball. I use an old knitting needle to hold the quill.

First, I have to prepare the singles that I spin for the plying process. I (almost) always wind off from the spinning tool onto a bobbin or other holder before plying cotton to maintain tension, distribute the twist, and find weak spots.  That’s easy enough from a handspindle.  But when using a driven spindle wheel, such as a charkha, it is not practical to wind off a spindle directly when it is full of cotton yarn.  Although some charkhas do allow the spinner to use interchangeable spindles, trying to ply directly from these has resulted in a nightmare of tangles and lost twist.  If I am using a spindle wheel that does not have an interchangeable spindle system (such as a Great Wheel), I use a traditional method of putting a wrapper onto the spindle, and spinning onto that wrapper.  The wrapper can be a piece of corn husk, sturdy drinking straw (with the base cut and slit to fit your spindle width as needed), or a firm twist of paper.  Then, when ready to remove the singles, you just carefully pull off the wrapper.  You have effectively created a quill full of singles yarn that you can wind off from without fear of tangling.  I put mine on a knitting needle to wind off from the side of the quill.

For more detail on how to unwind cotton yarn from various sources, including a handspindle, refer to Stephenie Gaustad’s book, The Practical Spinner’s Guide to Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Interweave Press 2014).  Ms. Gaustad included handspindles, charkas, and bobbins in her thorough and reasoned discussion.

Making a Plying Ball

OK, we have managed our singles so on to the plying.  Whether it’s a driven-spindle wheel, a flyer wheel, or handspindles I usually have two or more spinning tools going at the same time and multiple projects underway.  So I create a plying ball composed of singles from the various tools and projects to get the most yardage in my skeins (within reason, of course; you don’t want a huge skein with fine yarns).  Then I ply from the ball, either on a larger handspindle or on a wheel.  Thus I can combine several or many small batches from one or more spinning sources into a nice length skein which I can use for weaving or knitting.

Hector 3-

Singles successfully removed and wound onto a ball – this was one quill’s worth of singles.

Abby Franquemont discussed the use and value of plying from a multiple stranded plying ball in her book, Respect the Spindle (Interweave Press 2009).  While not referring directly to cotton, she noted that this plying method, used by Andean spinners, reduces tangles, manages the yarn, and allows the spinner to carry the plying ball anywhere to use.

The methods described below keep the yarn safe, sound, and under tension until it is plied.  If you try to ply directly from two spindles or quills you will have a nightmare of pigtails, kinks, and tangles – and breaks.  Been there, done that.  I tried two-end plying from a ball winder but I have found that this method does not keep the yarn under sufficient tension to retain the integrity of the yarn twist.  I might use that method, which is somewhat like the Andean plying bracelet, for the small amount of yarn left at the very end of the spinning project.


Plying from 2 or more handspindles

A. Keeping the singles on the spindles.
Spin one spindle-full of cotton yarn.  Set aside.  Spin a second spindle full on another spindle.  With one end from each, create a plying ball.  One will run out first.  Keeping the one that did not run out still attached to the plying ball, start again on another spindle.  When it is full, join to the end still attached and ply.  The original one will run out, and can be started over again.  This can go on forever but don’t make your plying ball too large.  Remember to overlap the singles while winding onto the ball and join firmly and securely when plying.  You will need to make sure this join is secure by twisting the two ends together.

B.  Wind off from 2 or more handspindles onto 2 separate balls.
Keep overlapping and joining the singles until you have a couple of ounces on each ball.  Then, with a third ball and the two singles balls in bowls, wind a plying ball being careful to join the ends as you encounter them; give them a twist and a good overlap.  Rewinding from the spindles first, before creating the plying ball, helps to distribute the twist and find any weak spots that are under twisted.

Plying from a driven-spindle wheel/charkha

Partially full ball (left) and full ball of singles; I would add at least two more spindle’s worth of singles onto the partial ball before I create a plying ball.

Partially full ball (left) and full ball of singles; I would add at least two more spindle’s worth of singles onto the partial ball before I create a plying ball.

If the wheel does not have interchangeable spindles, put a quill on the spindle (see above). Spin one quill full.  Wind this off onto a tennis ball or some other source under tension.  Spin another spindle, making sure that there is a little more on the second spindle than the first.  Using the yarn on the ball and the yarn still on the spindle, create a plying ball.  There should be some left on the spindle to join and begin again.  You can also use Method 1 with a driven-spindle wheel; just keep adding to the ball as the spindles fill up, making sure to create a good join.


Using a flyer wheel

In this case, I can put a lot more singles yarn on the wheel bobbin. I fill up one bobbin, then wind it off onto a ball or a spare bobbin.  Setting that aside, I fill up another bobbin at least as full as the first one.  I can then create a plying ball using the first bobbin and the second one still on the wheel or wound off as well.  As with Method 2, there should be some left on the wheel’s second bobbin to start up another batch.


Plying balls of various cotton yarns ready to ply. Notice double strands on the balls. It is critical to wind the singles together onto the balls with even tension, removing any pigtails or tangles as you wind. Uneven tension between the two singles will result in poor plied yarn.

Plying balls of various cotton yarns ready to ply. Notice double strands on the balls. It is critical to wind the singles together onto the balls with even tension, removing any pigtails or tangles as you wind. Uneven tension between the two singles will result in poor plied yarn.

I put the balls in a bowl when I am winding or plying.  My son made several shallow heavy ceramic bowls that are perfect for this purpose.  I use tennis balls for winding off and plying but you could use felt balls.  I recommend that the ball have a fuzzy surface to hold the layers of cotton yarn in place.  When you are making the balls, either from singles or with two singles held together for plying, make sure you keep even tension and open up any pigtails or tangles.  Hide these from your cat, by the way!







SusanHectorSusan Hector is an anthropology professor at a local community college, and a consulting archaeologist for an environmental studies company.  She and her husband spin in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park in period attire, as part of the park’s Fiber Arts Guild, which is a living history program.  She has been spinning and weaving for over 30 years and can be found at    

How to Spin

So early last month my new book came out. It’s by Storey Publishing and it’s called How to Spin. The title is right to the point I think.

Here’s what I know about learning to spin:

  1. It takes some time
  2. It takes some practice
  3. It takes some patience
  4. It’s best if you can have an in person teacher

Really, you can learn on almost any wheel. Consider all this years ago when the family had whatever wheel was available and whoever was learning learned on that wheel.

If you can’t get a wheel get a spindle. You can learn on any to spin

You can learn with any fiber. People all over the world learn to spin with cotton or silk or cashmere as their first fiber.

As with everything, once you learn and begin to try things you can figure out what you love the most or what works best for you.

Stop worrying and wondering and thinking and just start trying. And if you already know how to spin, start trying new things and brooadening your horizons.

As far as the book goes, I think it’s good for most spinners. Sometimes you just forget something or there is some basic thing you never really got. Maybe check out How to Spin and see if I can answer your question.


Singles on a Sock Machine

Guest blogger Cindy Craft is here to share her experiments with using a Circular Sock Machine to knit single ply socks. She also uses a flatbed machine for color work using singles. If you’ve ever wondered about knitting machines, we think you’ll be very inspired by her post!


I’m a hand spinner. I spin every night; it’s the way I wind down at the end of the day. As a result, I make a lot of yarn – there are several blanket chests in my house full of handspun yarn.  I knit with my handspun yarn but I spin much faster and much more often than I knit.  Several years ago it occurred to me that unless I wanted to die with a small mountain of handspun yarn, I needed to find a way to use my handspun faster.

circular sock machine

A sock in progress on Cindy’s CSM.

Circular Sock Machines had been on my radar for many years, but I was reluctant to buy an antique as they’re expensive and not always functional, so I had never purchased one. Then one day I was vending at a local sheep shearing show and a vendor a couple of booths down had a CSM that they were demonstrating – and not just any CSM but a new CSM! So I marched down with a small skein of handspun to see if it would knit on the machine. It did, and within a month we had our own CSM and I was happily using it to knit socks out of my vast supply of handspun.


The resulting Navajo Churro socks.

The resulting Navajo Churro socks.

On one of the Ravelry CSM forums I encountered someone who was knitting socks on their CSM from handspun singles. This blew my mind, because I had always been taught to ply my yarn for knitting. I had always thought it might be possible to use singles for weaving but never for knitting – there would just be too much biasing of the knitted fabric. I figured I’d give it a try; even if it was a disaster I wouldn’t have invested more than a couple of hours to make the socks.   The resulting socks were just fine. If I looked carefully I could see that the loops were not quite even but the resulting fabric wasn’t twisted or misshapen.


grey purple sock

If you look at the photo to the right, you can see that the right side of the knit loops is narrower than the left side but the shape of the socks themselves is even and not twisted.  These socks were made from handspun singles of 50% wool of unknown breeding and 50% alpaca that I processed from raw fiber. This photo was before washing.



trio of socks To the left is a photo of three different pairs of socks I made using singles yarns on the CSM. In this photo you’ll see three socks all made from handspun singles and knit on the sock machine. These are all socks that I have been wearing and washing by hand for at least a few months.   The striped sock is made from a BFL x Romney fleece and was dyed – there is almost no biasing of the stitches present in that sample.  The blue sock was made from a Dorset x Southdown.  It might be 50/50 or 25/75 as it came from a fleece from a local flock but I don’t know which sheep. There’s lots of biasing in this sock to the point where you can actually see the stitches twist on the sock. The third sock is undyed Romney with a bit of sparkle blended in.  This is the oldest of the three socks and you can see some of the wear in the right hand corner.  This pair is starting its third year.  I spun and knitted these socks in very similar ways – the only real difference is the wool type used.

When I started using singles for socks it got me thinking about using singles for other knitting projects.  At the same time, using the CSM got me thinking about using a flatbed knitting machine to speed up my knitting.  I’ve been knitting singles on a flatbed for the past couple of years now, and I have found the biasing to be nearly imperceptible.  Below are a couple of photos of items knit on the flatbed.
IMG_0775       mittens

The black and white hat is made from a black Shetland fleece, and I think the white is probably some of the Dorset/Southdown cross fleeces I got in 2014. I am hard pressed to see any biasing in this knitting. The blue and white mittens are made from the 2015 Dorset/Southdown cross fleeces, and the biasing is more visible in this knitting.  Perhaps the all over pattern in the black and white hat helps to disguise any biasing that may be present.

Do you knit with singles? Have you ever used them on a knitting machine? What have your experiences been?


cindy photo


Meet Cindy: Spinning is at the core of what I do but yarn is not a finished object so I’m always exploring new ways and tools to use my yarn. You can see more of the ways I use my yarn at our website,


Concrete shots and free fiber!

It was slow coming to you international folks, I know, but I think just about everyone (minus a few South American subscribers) has their Winter issue of PLY. What did you think? I have to tell you the truth, this one took the most for me to love but it wasn’t the content or articles or samples, it was our photoshoot venue!

We learn as we go, as usual, and what we learned this time was that grand, wide-sweeping locations aren’t for us. They just don’t work as well as the itty bitty gritty shots full of textures and detail. We shot at the gorgeous Longview Mansion in Lee’s Summit, MO. And just like the website implies by it’s own lovely photography — your bride will look stunning as she glides down the grand staircase beneath the crystal chandelier; your fish and/or chicken plated dinners will look delectable as your guest consume them along side copious amounts of champagne from the champagne fountain that’s placed under the twinkling stars; and never will you and your spouse feel so majestic and magical as when you walk down the column-lined promenade punctuated with extravagantly shaped shrubbery. The location was all of that and more.

However, when you’re attempting to capture the tiny felted corner of a Wendsleydale swatch, you tend to shoot a little closer. Heck, you tend to shoot a lot closer. With our specific photo needs, it’s hard to capture the grand staircase, the champagne fountain tower, the topiary shrub that’s skillfully pruned to look like an actual tree, and the imposing stone columns. In fact, when we what you see is mostly the wood on the staircase, a stump of the shrub, and the concrete at the base of the columns.

Bernadette and I worried and woe-ed. We did. We actually woe-ed. It’s a thing.
Woe: a feeling of great sorrow or distress.
to woe: to slightly sway back and forth while consumed with a feeling of great sorrow or distress.
Woe-ed: to do all the stuff I just said but, you know, yesterday, last week, in the past.

We woe-ed. We woe-ed all the while we waited for the issue to go through layout, then to go to print, then to make it through the USPS-mystery-system. And then we got it, cracked it open, and we thought and then texted each other “oh, that’s a pretty good issue.” I mean, it’s no “ruins of a castle” but in the end, it looked cohesive and it told the story it was supposed to tell.

So what do you think of the issue? And I don’t mean the photography in particular (Bernadette always does such a good job with what I give her, right? and she did rock those concrete shots!) but the issue in general. I love hearing and reading what spinners think of each issue! Plus, it helps people on the fence decide if they should give us a chance. So, if you’d be so kind, head over here and leave a review for the Singles issue of PLY!

On feb 15th I’ll pick one reviewer at random (I totally promise it’ll be random) and send him or her some of the fiber we used in the issue. That’s right, you’ll get 4 ounces of the same fiber used to spin and knit the Ondulant sraft by Carol Feller. The fiber is dyed by the wonderful June Pryce Fiber Arts and it’s the same light to dark gradient you see above. You’ll also get 2 Crosspatch Creations fiber blended batts. This is the same fiber Sue Tye and Jill Sanders used in their amazing Saori Tunic. You want this fiber, right? It also just so happens that it all goes together beautifully! Go, leave a review on the issue page (not here) tell us what you think! It makes us smile, keeps us striving to get better, and helps us keep on keeping on!