Every so often the world of spinning gets something spectacular and new, and I found it with Ply Magazine. Funded with a Kickstarter Ply founded it self on what spinners in the community want to read. The magazine takes a unique approach to the seasonal magazine publications focusing on a single subject that defines that issue. I was introduced to them with Winter 2013 Issue 3, focusing on Woolen, a striking cover of rolls of sparking fiber that speaks of winter without bringing to mind cold. I’m a comfortably intermediate spinner always looking for new ideas and facts and Ply offers it, with articles that are accessible to all levels.
Ply has a personable honesty within it pages. The letter from the editor made me (a recently graduated college student and relatively new blogger) smile. Likewise, all of the articles are approachable, never using a tone that made me feel foolish for not knowing some fact but rather excited to share that fact with someone else.
The table of contents has a great structure with “How to spin it,” “Spin it for a project” and “Knit the project” each with their own defining page numbers. Then right after the amazing table of contents there is a “Contents by Department” breaking down exactly which articles are a “Spin it” how to separate from “ProjectLand” and featured articles. Featured articles are divers with are all kinds of different fiber processing info from washing to carding. Contents by departments make it so if know you’re looking for just a project, or how to, you can skim which is excellent way to use this as a reference at a later date.
Ply beautifully integrates articles about history with “How To” as well as fiber profiles. Their goal with the publication is to explore different issues and ideas in spinning. They even address conflicting ideas in their letter to the editor. Spinning opinions are often conflicting, but every point of view has a place in Ply. They also have “Stealth Review” of a carder offering the pros and cons and clear reasons on why and how they used them, which makes me consider their reviews more seriously.
The articles go into depth on things that others might take for granted, such as the Lopi being akin but not the same as a long draw in “Spin it! Lopi-style singles using a point of contact longdraw.” Ply defines terms excellently within the text; however, it locks you into a reading the articles a bit in a sequence if you know little to nothing of the subject, because they don’t have a glossary of terms. Likewise, as all magazines do, the articles sometimes include internal references to other issues. Which, so far, is not a problem as they sell their back orders for a reasonable price. (Please keep doing this for those late to the magazine stand!)
In Woolen they offer no one right way to do anything but many different options and allow you, the reader, to grow from the ideas provided. They also want your ideas in return, they are open and looking for readers to submit and contribute.
I had two favorites in Ply’s Woolen “Learning like a child” reminded me that it is OK when I can’t just magically pick up a new skill at my wheel, and that just because someone tells me something is hard doesn’t mean it has to be. I also loved Franklin Habit’s comic “Lazy Kate’s Guide to Thoroughly Unsatisfying Spinning” using humor to tell the truth and poke fun at the too serious spinner, which sometimes, is me.
Picking up Ply is like getting a mini-book about a subject that everyone has a little different of a viewpoint on. Overall this magazine is going to be part of my permanent reference collection and I already find myself reaching for it again. I can’t wait for the Spring issue Silk!