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.

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