October 27th, 2005

me: portrait

The Trials and Tribulations..

of cotton continue. The roving that I have is NOT my friend...it likes to lump, and bump, and then thin down into froghair, all in the space of 1". Not fun at all.....

So, today I brought my Louet cotton handcards to work. I pulled off a bit of the roving and carded a (not very pretty) puni. Then, I attempted to spin it. Wow - what a difference! It drafts nicely, into almost smooth thread, with very little effort on my part.

Part of my problem (besides just a generally unfamiliarity with the fiber) is that I am trying to draft with my left hand - usually, my right hand holds the fiber and the left hand twirls the spindle. Since I will be doing the bulk of the cotton spinning on my charka, I decided I needed to teach my left hand to draft, since the right hand will be operating the wheel. (A charka is basically a table-top version of a walking wheel - no treadle.)

Why the charka and not a treadle wheel? Cotton is very short stapled - the fiber length of this stuff is...maybe 1". Wool averages 2.5"+. A flyer and treadle wheel (what you mostly see people using) has a lot of "pull" built into the system - it has to. The flyer and bobbin array pull the yarn from the spinner and wind it around the bobbin to store it while you continue spinning. With wool, this isn't a problem - the staple is long enough that you don't have to have a lot of twist to hold it together, plus, wool is by nature friendly. It wants to hang around others of it's kind, because of the scales running down the length. The scales grab hold of anything and everything in reach. *g*

Cotton, however, is more slippery - the short staple, along with the lack of scales, makes it a lot...not harder, but different to spin. Cotton needs to be thin, and high-twist. Until you get the twist right, the newly spun yarn will drift apart, so it's easier to spin it on a supported spindle or spindle wheel....hence, my charka.

Don't get me wrong - you can spin cotton on a normal flyer and treadle wheel, but it's a bit more difficult than wool.

My left hand is doing well, as long as I use punis and not the roving. Strange, but hey - whatever works! I have a pound of this roving, plus the 50-something pounds of raw, unprocessed bolls in my garage. I need to become familiar with the fiber...or I will be overrun. Even if I weren't working thru the COE handbook, I would (at some point) have to master cotton...now is as good a time as any.

Speaking of handcards, I recently acquired a set of Strauch wool cards....wow. Just - wow. Previously, my only carders were the Louet cotton ones..they're nice. Great for finer fibers....but the half-size cards are small. Very small rolags, which means it takes longer to card up a pound of wool. The Strauch cards looked smaller than normal hand cards, so I went with them. They are smaller, but MAN can they do the job! I am in love here...so much so that I took part of the wheel proceeds and ordered me a set of Strauch Cotton cards. *eg* Not sure what I'll do with the Louet ones....

I'm already looking ahead - after cotton will come Flax. That should be fun....and wet. Maybe I should plan on summer for that experiment.....*g*

I've got 2 Icelandic fleeces (1 from Tongue River and the other from Lavendar Fleece) heading this way, plus a pound each of Shetland, Merino, and Suffolk (most of them washed). Can't wait to play with them! The only thing really left on my "must buy with the proceeds" list is a yarn blocker...I *think* I can use the reel for that, but I'm wondering what damage the wet yarns will do to it. Must think on this a bit more...

Back to the tahkli!
  • Current Music
    whatever the co-worker is playing on her PC
  • Tags