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Archive for the ‘spinning’ Category

Finished Cotton Skein

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 12, 2010

Almost forgot about this project! Here’s the finished cotton skein. It’s 17 grams (about half an ounce) of naturally coloured cotton that I grew from seed, ginned, carded, and spun myself. If you want to see the earlier stages, here’s the link.

Finished Cotton Skein

After spinning the singles with a tahkli and plying with a small drop spindle, I wound off all the plied cotton onto a cardboard cup.

Home-grown, handspun cotton

At home I wound it off the cup onto a small niddy noddy and tied the skein.

Cotton yarn on niddy noddy

I forgot to photograph the finishing stage. I simmered the cotton for a few minutes on the stove in a pot of water with a pinch of baking soda. Naturally coloured cotton needs a slightly alkaline bath for the colour to develop, especially green cotton, which fades more with exposure to sun than the brown does. The baking soda bath brings back the colour and the boiling water sets the twist. I hung it up to dry overnight and then wound it into a small skein.


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Spinning Cotton by Hand

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 16, 2010

Although I do own a spinning wheel, I chose to spin my cotton by hand because there was such a small quantity and because at the moment I need portable projects. All but the first photo were taken at work. I spun during lulls at work.

The Fiber

Natural brown cotton and tahkli
I grew this cotton myself in pots on a balcony. It’s brown naturally coloured cotton. The lint from two plants came to about 19 grams. I tried several methods of preparing the cotton, including beating it with a forked stick, but in the end I carded it v-e-r-y gently with a pair of Ashford wool cards. The resulting mass could be considered a tight rolag or a loose puni.

The Tahkli

Tahkli and some spun cotton
A tahkli is an Indian supported spindle. To be honest, I’m not sure whether it’s from India or American-made. I rest the pointed tip of the spindle on my desk (with a piece of paper underneath to provide some friction so that it doesn’t run around my desk) and spin the tahkli with a quick flick of my right hand. My left hand holds the cotton and drafts it so that the spin enters the drafting zone.

Winding Off

Improvised Nostepinne
When the tahkli gets full, I have to wind off the spun cotton. I didn’t have a nostepinne at work and — for a change — someone had actually changed the empty toilet paper rolls in the ladies’ room so I couldn’t harvest any cardboard tubes. I used a disposable plastic cup and wound the tahkli round and round to wind off the single ply of cotton.


Spinning cotton
When I had wound the tahkli off four times onto two plastic cups, I started spinning on my plying spindle. It’s a top-whorl fimo spindle that someone made for me years ago. It’s become slightly unbalanced because it got chipped on the edge. Also, the central shaft is varnished, which makes it a bit slippery for rolling along the outside of my thigh to insert the twist. It will never be one of my favourite spindles but it’s more than adequate for plying.

Plying with 2 cups holding the singles was NOT a lot of fun. They’re very light, so there was a lot of twisting back on itself. I had a couple breaks where the singles were too thin. Also, when the plying spindle started to get full I had to break the yarn, wind off the plied cotton onto a paper cup, and start plying again with an empty spindle.

Almost Done

Spinning cotton
Only two more rolags to go! The paper cup holds the yarn I’ve plied so far. The plastic cup on the left holds the single that was left over. The tahlkli is empty. When I’ve spun the remaining cotton, I’ll wind it off onto the other plastic cup and finish plying with the larger spindle.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the finished yarn. It’s a bit too fine to use in a Weavette, so perhaps I’ll crochet something small. Any suggestions?

Did I mention that I have a bag of home-grown green cotton that I have to spin? It’s about half the quantity of the brown, so it shouldn’t take very long but I think I’ll use a lazy kate for the plying.


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