Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: PLY Magazine Winter 2013 Issue, Part 1

I'm really excited to share my thoughts on this issue of PLY Magazine. Normally I would have had this review written up already, but this particular issue, the Woolen issue, has greatly impacted my views of the longdraw method. Since I have lots to say, I'm going to break this review into two posts. The first post will review a selection of the individual articles, and the second post will review my personal experience working through the tutorials presented in this issue. As many of you know by now, I have been unable to spin longdraw successfully, aside from small samples, but more on that later.

The article True woolen talks about what constitutes a woolen yarn. I think that once beginners understand spinning and get their feet wet with the terminology, they encounter the terms worsted and woolen. I understood the general sense of a 'woolen' yarn, and I could describe it, but I didn't exactly understand what a woolen yarn was. This article elucidates what a woolen yarn is, how to make them, what their strengths are, and which fibers are best suited for this type of spinning. The entire winter 2013 issue discusses the various aspects of woolen spinning, but this particular article provides the best overall picture of what makes a woolen yarn, a woolen yarn.

Woolen spinning isn't just for those with spinning wheels either. I've been asked how to spin a woolen yarn with a drop spindle in the past, and I only had vague idea of how it worked. This lovely article by Amelia Garropoli, from AsktheBellweather, talks about a leapfrog method of spinning a woolen yarn, using a strumming motion to control twist. It's a slightly different method for spinning than with a wheel, so the skills aren't as directly transferable as with other methods of spinning (like worsted spinning, for example). I haven't given this method a try yet, since my spindle still has cashmere yarn on it, but it is on my list of things to learn. There are lots of fantastic pictures to illustrate certain points along the tutorial, which is nice for us visual learners.

Color changes the look of a yarn, and the way in which you spin a set of colors can dramatically change the impact of the yarn. There are two articles in this issue which discuss batts/rolags and shows examples of the different ways you can draft and spin a single colorway. I've already talked a little about how to play with colors to get a more interesting yarn in this tutorial. For those of you who are still a little timid combining colors together, this is a fantastic set of experiments to get bold and step outside the box. For me, this introduced a new way of making striped batts which is easier than what I have been doing in the past. I think you'll be seeing more striped batts in the Etsy shop soon!

For anyone seeking to learn more about woolen yarns, which is presented in a logical manner, this issue is for you. I've read lots of blogs and watched lots of videos regarding the longdraw method of spinning, but nothing seemed to click until now. I'll talk more about what clicked for me in my next post.

Again, these magazines provide a wealth of information which I can't entirely comment on here. After each issue I read, I feel fulfilled and enlightened. PLY Magazine balances on the edge between entertaining and informative. Well done. :)