Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spinning Study Vol. 1 - Cotton

Cotton is a very interesting fiber to spin.  Its very different from other fibers, like wool and animal fibers.  The staple length is extremely short and it requires a long draw with barely any grip on the fiber supply while spinning.  It also requires A LOT of twist to stay together ... a REAL lot of twist.  

This spindle is called a Tahkli.  It is a metal spindle with a brass whorl that spins super fast.  This is the traditional spindle for spinning cotton.  

Cotton comes in various preparations: sliver, roving, punis, rolags and fluff.  It can be spun on hand spindles or wheels.  It often creates slubs when drafting, but they are easily removed by pulling on the yarn and introducing a little bit more twist to hold it together, this is referred to as "double drafting".

Cotton usually needs to be boiled after spinning to set the twist and remove any wax from the plant and dirt that has accumulated on the fibers.  It can leave a little bit of a sticky residue while spinning, but its barely noticeable, the spindle shaft sometimes feels a bit sticky, but the singles themselves don't stick together.

Cotton is a very strong fiber,  but does  not have the elasticity of wool.  It will not felt and very minimal loss in weight or yardage occurs in finishing the yarn.  The staple length ranges from 1/2" to 1 1/2" depending on the species.  Cotton is best spun very thin.  Cotton comes in some natural colors ranging from white to cream to brown and green.  

Cotton yarn can be used for knitting, crochet and weaving.  Cotton is extremely durable and absorbs moisture making it an excellent choice for kitchen and bath accessories.  It should be completely dry before storing because it does hold on to moisture and is susceptible to mildew.

"The music of the spinning wheel will be as balm to your soul." - Gandhi

"One hour spent in spinning should be an hour of self-development for the spinner." - Gandhi


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