Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Adventures in Spinning Cotton

Last time I told you about the flax spinning in my Folk School class. This post is about spinning that itty bitty short little fiber--cotton.

Patsy started us off easy with unginned cotton and spinning it straight off the seed. Whereas I'd never tried spinning flax before the class, I had attempted cotton before--not too successfully.

Spinning off the seed was really fun! Plus, once you have a bare seed you can plant it (so watch for my upcoming adventures in growing cotton in WI--haha!:)

Then, we moved on to using ginned cotton lint--carding it and making puni's. For a long time now, I've known I'm a bit carding challenged and in need of remedial lessons. So, I spent one entire night carding everything in sight. You can see the evolution in this photo.
A puni improvement, I'd say! I liked spinning from puni's, too. So far, so good.

The next day we tried spinning on the charkha. There were several different types in the room--from my little Bosworth book charkha to an Indian book model, Patsy brought 2 attache size charkhas, Nat had an Alden Amos and Pat an Ashford upright charkha and Elizabeth had her great wheel. This is Patsy demonstrating on one of the attache models. She makes it look really easy. My Bosworth charkha arrived only about 10 days before the class but I'd been able to practice a little bit on it before traveling to NC. After Patsy watched me spin, she made a couple of suggestions and it all clicked. I made friends with my charkha! :)

And, here are the before and after skeins to prove it. On the bottom is what I spun before the class and the top skein is what I spun while there. Yeah!

There were some not so great cotton spinning experiences, too. Mostly those in the sliver form. I plan to try those again after I have a little more time under my belt getting the feel for the short little fibers.

We also did a little bit of dyeing in this workshop. This is some of the unginned cotton after it dried. And, then carded up. I seem to have lost the skein I spun from it, though. :(Pat and Nat had taken a cotton spinning class with another teacher (whose name I can't remember) and this was the drafting method they learned--I thought it was interesting so snapped a photo so I would remember it. Hope you find it interesting, too.Pat brought this fun little mat made out of handspun cotton woven on a 4" Weavette loom.
Nat also had a really pretty scarf made on the Weavette. Unfortunately, the photo I took of it didn't turn out, but it was very cleverly put together so that 2 squares made from cashmere sat at the back of the neck for ultimate comfort.

While I was away from home, pictures of the Moosie whorls were delivered and I ended up with one day before the deadline to choose one. I figured that the ones I liked best would already have been spoken for, but this seemed like a really pretty herd so I sent in my choices and wonder of wonders--got my #1 pick!
Here it is! Isn't it a beauty! That one little spot is the only place where it isn't totally clear which I love because I didn't want a totally gnarly looking whorl but didn't want it to look too solid so that people would think it was plastic, either. The shaft is Cochin Rosewood--I let Sheila choose whatever she thought would look best. The weight is 1.2 oz and after much experimentation I discovered it likes to spin alpaca.

Thanks for bearing with me through all the Folk School workshop photos. Can't believe it all happened only a month ago. Next week maybe I'll have some current knitting and spinning pics.


At 1:10 PM, Blogger CarolineF said...

I think you're so adventurous to try spinning these less-cooperative fibers. Very cool.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger A Fiber Frolic said...

Your photographs really capture the essence of the cotton experience. I know I'll refer to them regularly. Thanks so much.


At 2:04 PM, Blogger Romi said...

How cool! And what gorgeous colorful eye candy. :)

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Denise said...

I love the photo with the carded cotton. Are they punis when they're cotton (as opposed to rolags)? Too bad you lost your little skein though!

At 12:27 AM, Blogger Melanie said...

Wow, you're doing a great job with the cotton spinning and the carding. Thanks for posting all the pictures, I really like seeing what Folk School is all about. Your Moosie is lovely.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger vanessa said...

earing with you- i love reading about your workshop!
the skein of cotton from class is beautiful, as are the colorful punis :-)


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