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Amy Clarke Moore

Amy Clarke Moore has been at the helm of Spin Off magazine for 8 years. Those 8 years have seen a lot of changes in the fiber world and an explosion in the number of people spinning. Amy has risen to the task of editing the only print spinning magazine by listening to spinners, and by immersing herself in the world of fiber.

Amy graciously agreed to take a break from her work, family and art to answer a whole bunch of nosy questions I’ve been dying to ask her.

Thank you, Amy!


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How long have you been editor of Spin Off?
My first issue as editor was the Fall 2000 issue, but in the Summer 2000 issue, I was a guest editor with Rita Buchanan—and that is when my training began. I was really fortunate to be taught by the best craft editor out there

Talk about the joys and challenges of editing your magazine.
The joys of editing Spin-Off are so clear—I get to work with authors who I really respect and admire to attempt to create the best magazine possible for our readers. The team who creates Spin-Off (I don’t do this alone!) is really cohesive—we work well together and each person on the team contributes the best of their creative efforts. The challenges? Well—our readership ranges from absolute beginner to incredibly advanced spinners—we have spinners who want to know everything about the science and mathematics of spinning to spinners who rely totally on intuition to achieve the yarn they desire—it is always a challenge to provide a magazine that makes everyone happy.

Spin-Off has changed since you took over
What did you change and what was your intention for the change?
I think Spin-Off has changed and at the same time remained the same—just like your friends change and stay the same over the years. In the eight+ years that I’ve been editor, we’ve gone through a few redesigns—for both content and visual impact and our readers have been very receptive to the changes. 

Will there be more changes?
There will always be more changes—but I guess I see them as natural evolutions since Spin-Off responds to the desires of its readers (so, let me know what you think and what you want in the magazine—I’m listening). 


Why do you think more people are taking up spinning?
Learning to spin seems to be the next step after learning to knit for a lot of people—especially if you’ve had a chance to work with handspun yarn.

There is something that is so totally appealing about the idea of being able to design your own yarn.

You may not realize this until you start spinning, but spinning feeds the crafter's need for instant gratification. Really. You can spin yarn for a project in an evening (depending on the project, of course); that same project may take days, weeks, months to knit.

And spinning is so relaxing (well, once you get the hang of it)—so many people turn to spinning when they need a calm space in which to retreat.

How do you balance work/art & mommyhood?
Balance is the key. I try to keep focused on the important things and not worry too much about the small things.

I love the time I get to spend with Hannah (my three-year-old daughter). We do a lot of things together—work in the garden, fold the laundry, wash the dishes. It’s all fun as long as we’re doing it together and that way we get things done.

Since my husband also works full time, we’ve divvied up the chores and it seems to work most of the time. Since Hannah came along, the time I spend on my artwork is less, but I still work on it, it just takes longer to make a piece.

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Tell us about your spinning life
I learned how to spin while I was a student abroad in Costa Rica—I lived in a remote indigenous village with a spinner, weaver, dyer who taught me how to do all those things.

Actually, I was motivated to learn how to spin because her family thought it was outrageously funny that I was 22 years old and didn’t know how to spin. The more they laughed at my attempts to spin cotton on a handspindle, the more I was determined to learn. I did and I discovered a lifetime love.

I ended up getting an MFA in Fibers from Colorado State University and my thesis was composed of over 40 handspun, handknitted dysfunctional socks (you can see some of them in my Ravelry projects page).

It was while I was making these socks (some big enough for sleeping bags) that I thought, “hey, I could make sweaters!”.

Any gear you’re dreaming about getting?
I just visited the Home Textile Tool Museum in Orwell, Pennsylvania and tried out a pendulum wheel—and instantly wanted one—even though it would be totally impractical.


What’s your favorite fiber to spin?
Wool. I’m really enjoying spinning with BFL right now—but also, Shetland and Polwarth—it depends on the project.

What do you do with your handspun?
I have several projects in the works—tussah silk dyed with indigo for a cardigan, BFL dyed by Spunky Eclectic for a domino-square baby blanket, BFL dyed by Chameleon Colorworks for a domino-square sweater for Hannah (it was done, but then I decided to redo the collar), several fleeces that I’m scouring in small batches as I have time, and many more projects that are just waiting in my cedar chest for time to spin.

Though I’ve been spinning for many years—I don’t get large chunks of time to really work on it—so I’m still an intermediate spinner. I keep my wheel in my living room and the current projects in cloth-lined baskets under a table—so it is easy to pull out when I have time. 

Many folks may not know that you are a bead artist. How did you start and what types of things do you do?
I started beading while I was working as an editorial assistant on Beadwork magazine at Interweave for a staff project on bead embroidery. I got hooked and didn’t look back. I bead over photographs using a spiraling backstitch and use this medium to explore my love of fairytales and myths. See more of Amy’s work here.

What are you working on right now?
I’m finishing up a beaded piece about Lady Godiva right now (it seems so perfect for an election year to be working on this piece depicting Lady Godiva, whose famous bare-back ride through town was a very creative way to convince her husband to give relief to the overtaxed citizens of their town).

This is my most recently completed beaded piece—Hannah in Helen’s Hands. Normally I bead over photos that I’ve taken, but this is one that my sister took (I got her permission to use it) of my Grandma Helen holding Hannah shortly after she was released from the hospital.


What inspires you in work/life/art?
Why is this a hard question? Is it because inspiration comes from so many sources? I’m inspired by the people in my life, and people I’ve never met, but whose stories I’ve heard, I’m inspired by the art I’ve seen, the books I’ve read, the natural and human-made world around me. 

Can you give me 3 tips for spinners?
Trust your instincts.
Spin yarn that makes you happy.
Don’t worry about the shoulds.
Jillian Moreno is the editor of Knittyspin.

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