Fiber Joy

by Daisy on 10/27/2011

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I want to share with you a little something I’ve been working on.

It’s my first ever handspun.

It’s not much, and goodness knows if you’re a spinner you know it’s horrible.  But it’s mine.

And it’s not just handspun.  Hand grown handspun.

I planted seeds, watered and waited.  Then came all the growing.

And growing.

And growing.

Good grief, who knew cotton grew seven feet tall?

The first blooms were another revelation.  I had no idea how beautiful they would be.

The forming bolls were such a treat.

And then, when the first boll split and burst open?  So exciting.

I’m easily excited.

Seeding cotton is the perfect sitting-in-front-of-the-tv activity.  It doesn’t require much focus.  When I knit and tv-watch, I either lose half the plot (hey, who’s that guy?), or I lose track of the pattern.

The bolls open a few at a time.  I packed the seeded cotton into ziplock bags and watched YouTube videos of cotton carding and spinning.  Not a whole lot out there, but much more than there was before internet.  Yes, I remember those days.  Days when being able to watch something as niche as cotton spinning on a tahkli would require a trip to India rather than a short search on the ‘puter.

Days when people standing on the sidewalk talking something in their hand were given a wide berth.

Days when making a phone call involved standing in the kitchen, sticking your finger into a dial and moving it around and around.

Nines took SO LONG.

And zeros, don’t get me started.

There was a rhythm to it:  Dial.  Wait.  Dial.  Wait.  Dial.  Wait.  Et cetera.

What does all this have to do with my handspun?

Probably nothing.

But maybe it has to do with why I do it.  Sometimes I’m too impatient to wait for a telephone dial to spin around, and sometimes I like to do things the slow and laborious way.  It may not make any sense, but there it is.  Am I correcting an imbalance?  Do I have a sort of technology-feuled jet lag?

Maybe.  And I guarantee, this helps.



{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie October 27, 2011 at 7:41 am

Oh my goodness, I had no idea cotton plants were so pretty! I feel pretty embarrassed about that, I should know! Now I want some in my front yard…I’m sure my husband will *love* this… 😉

Jessica October 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm

That is incredible! Way to go!

ranch101 October 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Congratulations! For first spinning, that looks pretty good. It looks like my first spinning. I still occasionally turn out something looking like that. I like to pretend it’s on purpose 🙂 I haven’t spun cotton. I’ve heard it’s much harder than wool, being shorter fibers. You should be very proud of yourself.

A couple questions: How many cotton plants did you have? How much cotton (weight?) did you get all together?

My grandparents were sharecroppers in Oklahoma before the Dust Bowl. Cotton was their cash crop. I grew up on stories about that.

Tomato Lady October 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm

ranch101–Thank you! I have five or six good plants. One is a late bloomer and the bolls haven’t popped yet–hope they make it. So, from the plants that I’ve harvested, a couple gallon size ziplock bags full. I haven’t weighed them yet. At least half the plants are the brown you see in the post, the other a white called “red-foliated white.” Very pretty plant and not as tall as the brown, nankeen type. The white is easier to come off the seeds, but the brown is so pretty.
What a hard life that must have been. Have you written down any of your grandparent’s stories?

ranch101 October 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm

In high school, when we were reading “The Grapes of Wrath”, I interviewed my grandpa on tape. I still have it, along with the typed paper I made from it. I suppose with technology changing, I ought to transfer it to the computer – if I can find a tape player! There are still lots of other stories I want to get down.

I think I’ll have to try growing cotton next year. I hope your plants keep producing and that you keep spinning!

Tomato Lady October 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

ranch101–Wonderful. Definitely transfer it before the tape goes bad!

liezel October 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I think I now must grow cotton. Yes, I think I must.
So pretty

Elise October 29, 2011 at 8:04 am

So pretty, I had no idea cotton grew so tall! Now I’m thinking we *have* to grow some next year 🙂

Emily October 29, 2011 at 8:34 am

Cotton is very pretty and so is your yarn. You might want to check with your extension office about whether the plants need to be registered or not. Boll weevils and such are still a concern.
TL, did you card the cotton into a puni? The nice tight roll prevents the fibers from drafting quite so fast and gives you a little ‘pull’ so you have time to fine tune your singles a bit. It’s my preferred method. Although combing the fibers into a little halo on the seed and spinning them directly off of there is really fun even if not efficient.

Tomato Lady October 30, 2011 at 7:35 am

Emily–Thanks! Yes, I grew this cotton before I knew about the regs. I’ve applied for an exception so next year’s crop will depend on the results there. I did card the cotton into punis. I loved that part. I plan to take spinning classes to start off on a better footing. Never heard about combing the fibers into a halo on the seed. Sounds very interesting.

Ivory Soap October 31, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I can’t BUH-LEIVE you grew a washcloth! That has to be the coolest thing I ever saw. I used to wanna try linen…

Tomato Lady November 1, 2011 at 7:12 am

Ivory–Danke. Technically it’s more of a bookmark, and linen sounds very interesting . . .

Erin November 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Cotton plants are so incredible, I had no idea! I keep teasing hubby that I want a sheep farm, maybe I’ll just tell him he can plant me some cotton.

Claudia January 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Too bad Cotton doesnt grow well in Oregon 🙁 They are beautiful! And your fiber is awesome!! I hand spun some of the fur from my angora rabbit but sad to say he passed away to bunny heaven. I never did anything with the resulting yarn though just played around with it. Maybe I’ll get another bunny and try again. Maybe actually make something this time. I feel inspired!!

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