The fabric of our lives
Most spinners learn how to spin with wool—it is easy to learn with and is widely available as a spinning fiber. Sometimes not knowing that something is challenging can be a good thing. For instance, I learned how to spin by spinning cotton. I was a college student studying Spanish and anthropology in Costa Rica for a semester, and I had the great good fortune to spend two months in a remote village living with a spinner, weaver, and natural dyer. Petra taught me how to spin the short cotton fibers that grew on the little trees around her house. We gathered natural brown, cream, and green bolls, pulled off the seeds and made little patties of cotton that we then spun on drop spindles (not supported spindles) carved from a very hard wood native to the area and with a tire-rubber whorl. I was really motivated to learn how to spin cotton because the kids in the family sat around watching me and laughing when I dropped the spindle. They had been spinning cotton since they were little, and it seemed so odd to them that a twenty-one-year-old didn't know how to spin.
My first cotton yarns were stained with the red dust that coated everything from the iron-rich soil. Proud of what I had learned, I held that little ball of handspun cotton in my hand just barely aware of the rich traditions I was continuing, unaware of where that little ball would lead me.
Cotton is an amazing fiber, growing in hot climates and emerging from beautiful flowers on spindly bushes and trees. Cotton fibers are great for keeping us cool and dry when it is hot and humid out. It is the fiber the ancient Egyptians cultivated to clothe themselves and also used to wrap their dead in fine handspun, handwoven cloth, ensuring a safe passage to the afterlife. When the Spanish encountered cotton in the New World, they depicted it as a plant with puffs of little sheep growing on it—it was a soft and fine as the wool of their Merino sheep. In India, tahkli and charka spindles have been the perfect tools for spinning the short staple length of the cotton fibers for millennia. In the United States, the textile industry depended on the cultivation of cotton. Cotton really is "the fabric of our lives" as the cotton industry says—but for handspinners, it can be a bit intimidating.
However, you're in luck! All About Spinning Cotton: A Guide to Cotton Spinning + Free Naturally Colored Cotton Yarn Patterns is filled with great tips about spinning cotton from spinners who love working with cotton and know how to get just the results they are looking for. Learn about the naturally occurring colors of cotton and some of the history of naturally colored cotton available to handspinners and then try out your handspun cotton by weaving dish towels, knitting a sweater, or crocheting a small bag. Whether you're new to spinning or have enjoyed cotton spinning for years, this eBook will teach you something new about spinning cotton yarn.
Filed under: Natural Fiber, Handspun, Spinning Cotton, Spindle Spinning, Drop Spindle, How To Spin, Spinning Wool, Merino Wool, Handwoven, Spinning Fiber, Wool Processing, Types of Yarn, Spinning