Monday, April 20, 2009

Cotton Galore

What a weekend! We did just about everything you can do with cotton in every possible way with every possible variety of cotton fiber. Pat Maley from Cincinnati did the workshop and you really couldn't have had a more patient teacher or a more wide-ranging workshop. Starting out with raw cotton straight from the plant, we learned how to 'gin' the cotton with a stone and iron rod. With the cotton laying on the stone, you simply use the rod like a rolling pin and gently roll it over the cotton until the seed pops out the other side. Easy, peasy. Then to opening up the fibers, we used a bow where you simply ping the string over the top of the handful of cotton until it opens right up or you can use willow branches to open it or you can steam it and watch the fibers relax and open up.

We spun our freshly 'ginned' cotton then we spun the fiber straight off the seed. I think that was my favorite way of spinning and I plan on trying more of it.

We spun Acala, Sea Island, Upland, Egyptian, Pima, Fox Fibre (naturally colored cotton) and even cotton from pill tubes. Name it...done.

We spun on our wheels, tahkli spindles (a small support spindle), charkas (just about every kind) and electric wheels.

It's undeniably a challenge to spin but I was very pleased to have something to show at the end of it. It's not pretty but this is the skein...

It was fascinating to spin the naturally colored cotton and then watch it change colors as soon as it hit the steaming water. (To finish cotton yarn, you have to boil all the stuff off it after it's been spun.) I knitted it up just to have something from cotton I spun with my own little fingers.

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