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jillian moreno

Product Review: Ply Magazine

product reviewsSasha Torres1 Comment


Oh boy. I may not have much time to spin, but I've been grabbing time to read about spinning every time I get a new issue of Ply. Have you subscribed yet? If not, run, do not walk, over to their website and do so. Really.

Full disclosure: two of my favorite people in the world, Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno, constitute the editorial board of Ply. And you know that I'm a huge fan of Jacey Boggs, the magazine's editor, as well as of her teaching, her writing and her fantastic if short-lived podcast, Insubordiknit. But really, the folks at Ply are bringing it. Ply is wonderful. Here are three reasons why: 

  1. Focus on intermediate and advanced spinners. Each issue looks at a single topic, like woolen spinning, or spinning for color, or silk, or plying in real depth, and each starts by assuming a reader who has some spinning experience. So the woolen issue assumes that its readers know what "woolen" means, what "worsted" means, and what the difference is. From that starting point, it looks at "woolen" a zillion different ways: Jacey, in an article called "Lying About Longdraw" shares how she "tricks" students in her classes into spinning long draw. Beth explores the elements of "true" woolen spinning—short fiber carded into rolags, spun long draw—but also talks a bit about her own journey from diehard worsted spinner to woolen aficionado. Amy Tyler writes about spinning lopi-style woolen yarns, Amelia Garripoli explains woolen spindle spinning, and Stephanie Gaustad describes double drafting. Also in this issue: James Perry on unsupported longdraw and Abby Franquemont on spinning from the fold. There are also articles by Esther Rodgers and Lacy Ziemkiewicz on preparing fiber for woolen spinning, and one by Jillian on nine ways to spin a batt. See what I mean? Real depth.
  2. New and diverse voices. Ply is doing a fantastic job bringing new voices into the conversation. I'm particularly delighted to see a regular column by ergonomist and spinner Carson Demers on the ergonomics of spinning; the "Tip Jar" feature, with quick tips from spinners on some aspect of the topic at hand; and archaelogist Christina Pappas' articles on spinning history. Two of the highlights of the color issue for me were articles by David Schultz of Southern Cross Fibre on choosing a color palette and Felicia Lo on combining colorways. As I recall none of these authors has yet been tapped by Spin-Off, and it's wonderful to hear from them.
  3. Debate, not orthodoxy. Because every issue of Ply is organized around a topic, with articles that approach that topic from many different angles, it masterfully avoids erecting or reinforcing spinning orthodoxies. As the list of articles in the woolen issue suggests, Ply is built on the notion that there are many different routes to making beautiful yarn. One of my favorite elements of Ply is "Hot Button," in which spinners debate something like predrafting. With opinions ranging from Michelle Boyd's "Predrafting is the devil," to Deb Menz's "I do what I need to do," the magazine manages to undo even the most doctrinaire positions by putting them into the context of a debate. Similarly, the magazine's "Stealth Reviews" section features three anonymous reviews of a single product. I suspect that anonymity makes it easier for them to say what they really think (ask me how I know), and, again, no one voice gets the last word.

I could list more reasons I love Ply: the lovely glossy paper, the highly illustrative photography, the diverse models that grace every issue, the truly lovely and inspiring projects. But the point is you just need to subscribe and join the conversation. As I said: run, do not walk.

If you'd like more information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!

Color theory 101: color theory for spinners

what we do, dyer's notebookAlicia de los ReyesComment

I'm *so* excited to have amazing fiber artist/teacher/spinsib Jillian Moreno (perhaps you know her from Knittyspin?) share how she shifted a fiber from a variegated colorway into a gradient colorway. Don't know what those terms mean? Don't worry! She spells them out below. Take it away, Jillian!

Dorset Down  in Boardwalk.

Dorset Down in Boardwalk.

When I first started spinning I used to just spin everything as it came. I would buy beautifully dyed fiber, split it in two, spin it from end to end and ply the two singles together. I did that for a long time, but now I can’t quit playing with fiber I get. I rarely spin fiber as it comes anymore.

Take this gorgeous variegated Dorset Down roving in the colorway Boardwalk from theSheepspot fiber club (above). I got it into my head that I wanted to make this variegated roving into a gradient yarn.

The difference between variegated and gradient is simple. A variegated fiber or yarn has several colors that appear more than once on the length of the fiber or yarn; it can be in a pattern or a random placement and is usually in fairly short color runs. Agradient fiber or yarn has several colors with each color only appearing once, usually in longer color runs.

Because I like to play with my fiber, I spun this roving in a couple of ways.
I spun part of it as it came into a fine single and chain plied it, keeping the colors as distinct as possible. Here’s the roving ready to spin. 

And the finished variegated yarn.

Then I made the variegated roving into a gradient. I divided the roving by color, just pulling it apart, trying for cleanest break I could get. I didn’t worry too much about perfectly clean breaks since I like some variation in my colors.

If you want only clear color, keep pulling out the tiny bits of color that don’t belong out of your fiber chunks. These little bits are great to save for making batts.

I chose a color order and spun the fiber into a fine single and chain plied it.
Here’s the finished gradient yarn.

Here are the two yarns side by side, variegated on the left and gradient on the right. Similar, but different. I love it.

Here’s a different view. The gradient yarn is on the left and variegated yarn on the right.

With the yarns spiraled like this you can really see the difference. The colors in the gradient are used only once and the colors in the variegated are used more than once with much more blending between colors. The blue is a particular standout.

Just for fun I spun and plied together one single of the variegated and one single on the gradient. It’s a color mixing party!

There are so many ways to work with a braid of fiber. One day I want to knit a sweater using a single colorway manipulated in a huge variety of ways; I think it would be stunning.

All photos © Jillian Moreno.

If you'd like information like this, along with sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and fibers, delivered right to your inbox each week, sign up here to get my newsletter! You can also opt-in to get my e-course on choosing and using breed-specific wools as a special thank you!