Thursday, November 22, 2012

First attempt at spinning cotton

 Since I won a supported trindle at the Tour de Fleece this year, I decided to learn to spin with it using cotton that I had acquired in various ways. It was all combed cotton top.

I started with the red skulls that I had won with the trindle. It was a lot of fun spinning with that.  In fact I spun with red skulls and a spider bowl on Halloween!

I initially spun only around 15-20 mins a day as it was tough getting the spindle to spin and draft at the same time. I did a lot of 'park and draft' type spinning. I spun the trindle to build up twist and then I would draft a bit and then spin it again.

Joining was tough in the beginning. I would end up throwing out bits of fiber when I joined as I just wasn't getting it all caught up right. That worked itself out as I got more proficient.

Over time, it got easier and I could draft and spin the trindle at the same time. I found the red skulls a little light as the cotton cop built up on the shaft.

 At Rhinebeck, I got some heavier disco balls, which helped a lot. The trindle spun slower but longer and that helped build up twist so I could draft out while it was spinning. I also found that sometimes, it was easier to just spin on my thigh rather than in the bowl. It depends on what you are wearing. It worked well on jeans but not so well on sweatpants.
 As the cops got built, I wound them off onto weaving bobbins. I used a shoe-box kate because it was easier than some of the other things I had around.

I ended up with 3 weaving bobbins worth of singles.
 The three weaving bobbins fit nicely on my new Will Taylor kate and I plied from the largest and one of the others first. After the smaller of the two ran out, I started the third. One lesson I learned was not to leave the cotton dangling while plying. I put a rubber band around the weaving bobbins so I wouldn't lose any twist. But I forgot about the single hanging there.

When I got back to plying later, I had to toss about 6-8" worth of singles before I had a strong single with enough twist in it. I made a bracelet with the last bit after the second bobbin ran out and finished plying as usual. I added a good bit of plying twist and there was a lot of twist in the singles.

 There is a decent amount of yarn from all this. It is essentially 'free' yarn as I paid for it as part of a class or a retreat. I thought I would just have a sample skein but I think there is enough to make something with it.

As you can see, the skein is skewing to the left, to the plying side, to show how much plying twist I put in. This is pre-finishing.

Finishing cotton seems to be a matter of many different opinions. The Intentional Spinner says that it should be finished similar to protein fibers. Spin Control says it should be boiled for 30 mins with washing soda. Stephanie Gaustad also says boil with washing soda in her Spinning Cotton video. I found boiling with baking soda and boiling with detergent as other recommendations on the web. Since I didn't have washing soda and I wasn't going to buy some for this skein, I just boiled it for 30 minutes without any additions.

I then cooled it immediately with cold water, squeezed out the water, snapped it between my hands and also thwacked it for good measure before hanging up to dry. The skein is straight now. Let's see how it feels when it is dry.

Overall, a successful experiment. I am very comfortable with the spindling technique, I liked spinning the cotton and while this yarn is a bit thick-and-thin, I definitely got more even at the end. So I can produce a nice yarn if I do this again.

I am now going to start some supported spindle projects with wool and see how that differs from cotton.

1 comment:

Yarny Days said...

Nice! Another hobby in the stash, ah?!