crafty things

Learning to spin cotton

My first cotton yarn (and Panther in the background)

While I do actually have a full spinning wheel, it hasn’t been used since we moved, many years ago and is not exactly in operational condition. Also, from what little spinning experience I have, I learned that spinning cotton is more difficult than spinning wool because of how much shorter the fibers are. What I found when I researched the topic, was the recommendation to use a spindle called a tahkli for spinning cotton.

I’m a disaster at using a drop spindle, but the tahkli sounded different. It’s a supported spindle, so it spins on a surface – in bowl or on a desk, or against your leg, etc. It doesn’t dangle. That sounded like it might give me more control, and it was a new crafty thing to play with so I ordered one from Etsy. There are all kinds of very fancy, very beautiful ones available, but I just needed functional, and hopefully, affordable so I ended up ordering this one. It really spins like a little champ!

While I was super proud of that yarn in the photo when I did it, it doesn’t look so great to me now. Although compared to my very first attempt that can’t be photographed because it’s just a pile of broken pieces of cotton with the occasional twisted section included it is a huge improvement. Considering the photo was my second day’s attempt, I think my learning curve maybe isn’t too bad. There is a lot to learn – how much to feed at a time, how much to spin, how to balance everything, how to wind it up when it gets long, what the best angle to hold the cotton at, etc. More than I had expected to have trouble with. I’m honestly still not sure what I’m supposed to be doing with the hook at the top, but since some of the videos I’m learning from don’t have a hook, I guess I will continue not to worry about that.

The Etsy seller I bought my tahkli from included some pretty cotton samples, and some more raw but nicely carded and prepared cotton so that’s what I learned on. It was very nice of them because I was afraid of messing up my own cotton so it helped me feel okay with making a mess in the beginning as I learned. thought I’m saving that pretty cotton they sent for when I know what I’m doing.

My next step is to learn how to set the twist and how to ply my spinning into a 2-ply yarn. My understanding is that these steps are important for cotton yarns, but I don’t know how. Luckily, I like to learn things. Expect more photos when I get it all figured out.

crafty things · garden

Harvesting Cotton

My cotton is starting to pop open and be ready for harvesting. I’m such a proud little container gardener! I was looking something up about cotton, and learned that these five-sectioned boils are less common than the four section ones. So I had to check my plant, I found one boil with four, but it looks like most of mine will be five. Maybe some varieties have five more often? I wonder if there is a reason. Something more to research I guess!

I spent a chunk of time picking the seeds out of this boil, and that was more work than I expected. I already have more seeds now from one boil than I bought to start with. I have a nice handful of fluffy cotton now as well. I want to try and spin it, but my understanding is it is harder to spin than wool due to it’s shorter fibers, and my wheel needs some love before it will be operational, so I ordered a spindle called a tahkli cotton spinning spindle to try out as well.

I’m nervous about messing up and ruining my pretty cotton, but I’ll need to get over that because the only way to learn is to try, and mistakes are likely. I can always grow more, and in fact, I have at least a dozen more boils out there on my cotton plant that haven’t opened yet. Still, if any experienced cotton spinners are out there, I’m open to advice!