Do you find that certain fiber activities are seasonal? I feel that way about working with wool. Even though I've been semi-diligent with my Shetland Sampler Cardigan, the hot weather has finally gotten to me and I have no enthusiasm for working with wool. Not only as in yarn and knitting, but even for spinning.
However, the fruit of my cotton lint dyeing experiment is most abundant. I have a rainbow assortment of over 15 different color samples of approximately 100 grams each. What an excellent summer change of pace.
Cotton is a very short fiber,
usually 3/4 to 1 and a half inches in length. It is also fine, about 25 microns in diameter. For these reasons it has a reputation for being difficult to spin. But really, it isn't all that hard.
I make my own punis, which are slender cotton rolags. I use my Ashford cotton handcarders.
I tease the fiber out a bit and then load it on the one edge of the carder. This way it makes a narrow batt. You can load the entire carder; I just find it easier to do a neater job this way.
I use a quarter inch dowel to roll the punis with. Actually, this is my wraps-per-inch counter, the same one used in my Measuring Wraps Per Inch (WPI) post. I smooth the puni by rotating the dowel rod with one hand, using the other to press down the stray fibers.
I continue to roll the dowel and twist the puni off the other end.
This had not created an entirely smooth preparation however. I think this is partly because the Ashford cotton carders, which have a finer carding cloth than their regular carders, are still not the finest on the market. Also, the cotton lint has bits of husk and whatnot in it. I pick as much of this out as possible, but some remains behind.
I spin these with my wheel. I'm not a spindle spinner, nor do I have a charka, but a flyer wheel does nicely if adjusted properly.
To spin, I loosen my drive band (for double drive) or break band (for single drive) as much as possible. Cotton requires a lot of twist to hold it together, so I use my highest spinning ratio. A lower ratio is useful to get a feel for spinning it, but it requires a lot more treadling. It also wants to be spun into a fine yarn. I use the long draw, and the punis spin up quickly.
I haven't decided what to do with it all yet.
This should keep me busy for awhile. It may be psychological, but I certainly feel cooler working with it than with wool. Our southern summers tend to be long, but I have a lot of cotton to spin, and plenty of snoopervision .....
Posted 7 July 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com
Cotton Spinning Update
More On Spinning Cotton