Halloween Fun with Cotton Clouds

Let’s Have Some Halloween Fun!

PumpkinBaby3

Are you ready to fill your Fall with fun? Cotton Clouds prefers the sweet and silly to spooky and scary, so check out our round-up of ideas to cover your crafty needs this month!

Cotton Up to Halloween Costumes!

cottonballcostumes

Right now Pinterest is full of wonderful Halloween Costume ideas. Of course we pinned several to our Halloween Fun board! What better costume for any cotton fan? We get such a giggle each time we look at the adorable “Cotton Boll Kid” as we have come to refer to her, and how wonderful are the cotton ball wigs?

Festive Cotton Decorations!

Time to get festive! Sure pumpkins and candy corns may dominate the color palette, but don’t be afraid to branch out and make use of the other seasonal colors! Why not include cotton bolls in your tablescape? They provide a lovely neutral – aren’t they pretty in these images?

Fall decorations

Spin Up a Scary Yardage!

We’re so proud of Team Cotton Clouds Cottontails as they spin as much as they can during Spinzilla! These fibers and deals are treats for your spinning experience – no tricks!

scarespinnin

Quick & Easy Knit or Crochet Projects!

knitcollageOur go-to yarn choice for each of these quick knit or crochet projects would be Tahki Cotton Classic! Shown above are:

 

Free Shipping: Special Treat in our Newsletter!

Newsletter sign up

Click HERE to subscribe to our e-newsletter with sales, specials, what’s new, hints & tips, free patterns & more!

Happy Halloween!

Here’s to a Safe & Happy Halloween with lots of treats! Feel free to let us know how your spinning & weaving is going – share a link to your project or post a picture to our Facebook page!

Irene & Jodi

10/10/2014 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

SPINZILLA is coming! We want you on our

SPINZILLA is coming! We want you on our Team! Today September 22 is last day to register! Come along with Team Cotton Clouds Cottontails and join the fun! Lots of fun and even more prizes! Sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/lrvraqc http://ow.ly/i/6XIGC

09/22/2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

What Ya’ Spinnin’?

spinzillaRavtar-spinzilla-transparent_medium1-150x150

 

Greetings, Cotton Clouds Cottontails!

Are you ready for Spinzilla? Well, I think I am!

Our fearless leader, Irene, asked me to write on her blog as she has had a problem with her shoulder. Seems like she was too adventurous in Dominica this summer and fell down a cliff while hiking. Goes to show you (as my husband, Norm, always says)…. exercise will damage you every time!

 

Back to spinning, however (which, it looks like, she will not be doing) Irene has asked me to attempt to spin cotton this year.

cotton

Now, I am admittedly a wool snob. I have been spinning for 41+ years. I learned on wool and no matter what I spin, I always go back to wool. As I tell my students, and anyone watching me demonstrate, you can spin almost anything; I’m sure you know this, so I’m preaching to the choir.

Most spinners will be spinning these guys:

sheep wool


Connie the Great!

Connie Peterson, Team Captain with Roxy

However, if you have forgotten, you can spin:

camel

camel
yak

Yak
buffalo,musk ox (did you know that “qiviet” is the most expensive fiber and yarn in the world?)

goat

goat
rabbit

rabbit and spindle
dog, and cat (very difficult to spin cat, though)

Old_English_Sheep_Dog_2

cat
And these are just a few of the animals that can have a yarn made from their coats.

For plants, you can spin:

flax, thistle

thistle

bamboo

bamboo
and of course, COTTON in all its glory!!!

cotton field

Cotton Clouds has a wide variety of cotton spinning fibers 

I have a friend who has spun the cotton from a Cottonwood tree – but only as an addition to the wool that she is already spinning. My granddaughters, one time, brought half a grocery bag full of the Cottonwood fiber and were very disappointed that it was nearly impossible for me to spin.

But to get to cotton. I have spun it before and had problems with it. But Irene sent me the All About Cotton Kit  with a lovely supported spindle and some beautiful fiber.

The Bible of spinning cotton has just been updated and reprinted. It’s Handspinning Cotton by Harry & Olive Linder.  which is invaluable in learning all the little tricks and tips in successfully spinning cotton. It’s clear, concise and small enough to fit in your spinning bag.

Handspinning Cotton

Handspinng Cottton

I have found that spinning on the Tahkli spindle that comes with the All About Cotton Spinning Kit is a lot easier but rather slow.

tahkli Spinning cotton on my wheel is faster but not quite as easy. It will take some practice to get adept enough to spin a sufficient amount for Spinzilla, but I am practicing and I hope to persevere.

What are you going to spin for SPINZILLA? Remember, it’s not so much the amount we spin (well, not SO much) but the effort that we put in and the success of skills that we obtain. That is the main part of Spinzilla .. to increase our skills and to devote a major amount of time to something that we all love.

product_image_3071

If you want to enter Spinzilla’s MONSTER MILE CONTEST and want to spin cotton, take advantage of Cotton Cloud’s Monster Mile Fiber Pack at a greatly reduced price.  It’s a great way to spin their most popular EASY-TO-SPIN PIMA SLIVER cotton!

Not a team member?  There is still time to join (by September 22, 2014)  Join Team Cotton Clouds Cottontails NOW by CLICKING HERE!

Happy Spinning!

Connie Peterson,  Team Cotton Clouds Cottontail Captain

09/17/2014 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

True Friendship Across Borders

Knowing what’s right!

Sometimes in life you just know that you must put all your heart and soul into something even when there will be no financial gain.

Women of SR, Guat

THE NATURAL DYE PROJECT with The Women of San Rafael, Guatemala

When I first heard of The Natural Dye Project sponsored by Mayan Hands of Guatemala I knew I had to be a part of it.  My weaving community has helped sustain Cotton Clouds these past 35 years.  Now it was time for me to give something back.
Cochineal dyer 2

The Natural Dye Project taught dyeing techniques to the women of San Rafael

An Idea Is Born

   Deborah Chandler (author, Learning to Weave) contacted me in 2013 to see if I would help market a naturally dyed cotton towel kit that would be produced by a small group of women living in the mountains of San Rafael, Guatemala. I said yes, and along with a fantastic all-volunteer crew of natural dye experts, a fabulous weaving designer, graphic artists, and copy editors we have produced a beautiful Friendship Towel with Tintes Naturales kit for you to weave and to give as gifts and to yourself.

The Natural Dye Project

   Since early  2013, natural-dye pros Catharine Ellis and Donna Brown (and later Diane de Souza andRocío Mena) have donated their time and expertise in San Rafael teaching the women every step of dyeing cotton yarns with Tintes Naturales. In the beginning the idea was to use local dye plants but with no local dyers left to show the women how to extract the dyes or how to maintain consistent colors, the group has shifted to using commercially available powdered dyestuffs that produce consistent results.
    Rocío has spent the past two months living with the women and guiding them through the process of dyeing, winding and packaging the yarns to produce over 150  Friendship Towel kits The first batch of 30 kits sold out in two days!
Tintes Naturales dyer

The Natural Dye Project in action

More Than A Living Wage

   The women received approximately $450 EACH for the two+ months of work they did. Usually they earn about $45 in six weeks, so $90 in an equivalent amount of time — IF there is work. Right now there is hardly any work for them, so this is not just 5 – 10 times what they usually get, for now it is nearly all they are getting.
   One woman used the money to add electricity to her new home; many have set it aside for their children’s education as well as to purchase corn, their staple food source, since they are unable to grow their own this year with the severe drought in their area.
TN Family Composite

From left, Berta’s family, Abelina’s daughter Mishel, Rocío with Abelina’s family

Rocío Mena Our Angel

   Deborah Chandler writes, “I can say, with no reservations and total gratitude, that this would not have been possible if Rocío had not been there. She has provided everything that the women needed: information, nudging, inspiration, dedication, fun, and a will to push hard when everyone was tired. They all believe the women can now successfully continue, so let’s hope, and WORK, to sell those 117 Friendship Towel kits so we can order more. The women are geared up to do another 50 and I am sorry that I need to tell them not yet. But they are ready and eager so I hope the Christmas season benefits them like it does most other sales.
Rocio and Abelina frame

Abelina and Rocío learning how to weave on her new backstrap loom the women gave her as a going away gift.

 Yes, a HUGE Success!

   That’s it — a HUGE success so far. Now we just need to keep it going.
Women with HW

The five remaining women of the Natural Dye Project with Rocío Mena holding the September/October 2014 issue of Handwoven magazine, featuring the Friendship Towel kit with Tintes Naturales.  From left: Gilberta, Elvira, Berta, Rocio, Fulgencia, Abelina

 

How you can support this project.

The women of San Rafael are so very proud of their accomplishments of dyeing these all-cotton yarns  and packaging them into the Friendly Towel kit with Tintes Naturales and want to share it with you!  Purchase one or two or more kits (each kit makes four towels on any 4-shaft loom) and give and give and give to friends, family, fund raisers, and more!  And don’t forget yourself.
 Each time your hand picks up a Friendship Towel, you’ll be reminded that your hands have reached across the border and touched so many lives in such a huge way!
Women in frame

Order your Friendship Towel with Tintes Naturales kit by Clicking HERE!                    Limited Supply! Order Now!

The Natural Dye Project Team

5 women of natural dye project frame

The five remaining women of the Natural Dye Project and producers of the Friendship Towel with Tintes Naturales kit

Follow Rocío’s Journey in San Rafael

TN Friendship Blog

Click HERE to read Rocio’s blog; two months working hand in hand with the women of San Rafael, Guatemala.

08/27/2014 at 1:17 pm 2 comments

Gearing up for SPINZILLA 2014!

Update: SPINZILLA 2013!

map

Although we weren’t on the top of the list, Cotton Clouds Team did spin 29,022.58 yards for a total of 16.49 miles helping to get us from NYC to Chicago!

 

While any fiber could be spun, we obviously were talking a lot about cotton. Those that did loved it! Even first-time cotton spinners.

ariaya 4

Ariaya spun this beautiful skein of yarn

So here’s your opportunity for SPINZILLA 2014 to get your hands on some cotton and spin and spin and spin away during the week of October 6-12, 2014!

When the final team rosters were in, we had 23 team members, and we’re covering the states of Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Quite a spread!

Prizes, Prizes, Prizes!

Cotton Clouds, as well as SPINZILLA gave away lots of prizes!  There will be lots more this year! Good reason to be on our team!

Here are just some of our many prizes we’ll be giving away this year!

Our own suzenew won the Cotton Clouds SPINZILLA t-shirt!

susenew

Suzenew won our SPINZILLA t-shirt

A brand new copy of Hand Spinning Cotton by Harry & Olive Linder. This book is currently VERY expensive and hard to find because it’s out of print, but Cotton Clouds has re-printing it so a new generation can appreciate this fabulous resource! This prize will be awarded to the team member who spins the most yarn.

CC_SO_12thpageREV_print

 $25 Cotton Clouds gift certificate. This will be given to one random team member! Spinzilla will also be giving away Gift Certificates!

gift certificate

Hand Dyed Cotton Sliver

Hand Dyed Cotton Sliver

Hand Dyed Cotton Sliver

 Join our Team!

Spinzila Avatar

It’s so easy to join the Cotton Clouds CottonTales SPINZILLA Team!  Sign up now!  Registration is August 4-September 22, 2014 ! The $10 registration fee will go to support the TNNA Mentor Program that will bring spinning into the schools to grow a new generation of spinners.

We’ll be having lots of fun, be giving away lots of prizes, special sales through our e-newsletter and posting on our Cotton Clouds CottonTales Ravelry thread.  So come on and join us! We’re the #1 cyberspace SPINZILLA team! #teamcottonclouds.

 

FAQ About SPINZILLA!

Spinzilla ??

Need to know more about SPINZILLA? What is it?  How to join? When to spin?  What to spin?  How to measure yardage and lots more?  Just CLICK HERE to have them all answered!

Comming next:

A gallery of our 2013 handspun winners!  Well, everyone on our team was a winner!

Even suspinz02's cat got in the action!

Even suspinz02’s cat got in the action!

Happy Spinning everyday, but most of all let’s all combine forces October 6-12, 2014 and bust some butt during SPINZILLA!

08/04/2014 at 12:05 pm Leave a comment

New to Spinning Cotton

Cloud Spinning What words come to mind when you think about spinning cotton? Cotton Clouds recently posed this question to fans on Facebook, and you can see the words and phrases that were shared.  At CottonClouds.com, we make cotton spinning easy with quality tools and instruction. But you don’t have to take it from us! We asked Rebecca, to whom we recently sent our All About Cotton Spinning kit, to put in her own words, her experience spinning cotton for the first time! Take it away, Rebecca!

 A New Spinner’s Experience

Thanks to Cotton Clouds for the opportunity to share my experience here! I have been a knitter for 13 years and have been practicing my crochet skills for 5 years, you can see many of my projects on Ravelry. I have often admired the spinning I have seen at fiber festivals and workshops, and by my friends at our knit night. I have a drop spindle and have spun wool with limited success over the last few years. I love to try new things and the All About Cotton Spinning kit seemed right up my alley – everything you need to get started is in the kit!

I’m a very touchy-feely knitter – I like to give my yarn a good squish. When I opened up the kit, I was really impressed by how soft each of the different cotton fibers felt!  There was some lovely “squoosh” factor there. The variety of cotton was impressive: Pima, Acala, Brown and Green cottons, punis, and a cotton bolls are included in the kit.  My daughter, who is 6, thought it was wool at first! This was a fun little learning moment for her to see what cotton looks like before it is yarn!

 

Cotton Spinning is Easy with Quality Tools

Cotton has a short staple length and I had heard the more prepared it is, the easier it is to spin. I have practiced with the punis and cotton in sliver form.  A Tahkli spindle is included in the kit.  It is a small supported spindle from India, with a heavy brass whorl to help build up a lot of spin which will give the yarn the much needed twist to hold together.  I spent a while just practicing giving the Tahkli a little flick and letting it spin in the space created by my thumb and index finger.Since it is not a drop spindle, I let it rest on a flat surface.  Boy, that spindle can spin! It is mesmerizing to watch, it is like a toy top!photo(6)

As I said before, I’m a very green spindle spinner, so getting started with the actual fiber was the hardest part for me. I asked Irene about this, what I should use for a leader yarn, and she gave me the tip to use one of the punis – to pull a bit out, get it on the Tahkli hook, draft a bit and start spinning from there. That worked like a charm!

 Cotton Spinning is Easy with Quality Instruction


This video from Cotton Clouds was very helpful! I encountered slubs, but if there is enough spin, you can see the twist travel up the fiber! It is pretty neat to see that in action. I still need to practice making sure there is enough twist in the yarn before winding it on to the shaft and drafting the next section out. Interestingly, this practice did not frustrate me as I had experienced with the wool!

So what words come to my mind when I think about spinning cotton? Magic, fun and practice! I will be peeking in on CottonClouds’ I Spin Cotton Ravelry group. Maybe at some future point I’ll be able to post again and show you a finished object from my own cotton handspun! There are some great ideas on the CottonClouds Pinterest boards, don’t you agree? Thank you to Irene and CottonClouds.com – they do make spinning cotton easy! For all of you out there who also enjoy spinning cotton, stay tuned for more details as the 2014 Cotton Clouds Spinzilla team, Cotton Clouds Cottontails, will be ready for team spinner signups starting August 4, 2014! Keep your eye on the Facebook page and Ravelry group for Spinzilla updates as well!

 

 

 

 

06/12/2014 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

How I fell in love with INDIGO!

photo 3-2

I had the time of my life recently at an Indigo Dyeing Workshop sponsored by WARP (Weave A Real Peace) at their annual meeting in St. Louis, MO.

In addition to indigo dyeing, we also had the opportunity to dye whatever we brought with a cochineal, black walnut, camomile and eucalyptus bath.

Here you see me “stained” with live cochineal bugs that were squashed into the palm of my hand.  I’m always game for a new adventure!

Blue, blue, blue and more blue

indigo dyeing 028

There was blue everywhere as WARP members dyed skeins, silk scarves, old sweaters, fabric and more.

 

My Indigo Experiment

I chose to just test how different cotton yarns would react to an indigo dye bath.  I skeined up four, then a fifth skein while everyone else was washing their projects (I got so excited about the results that I wanted to keep dyeing).

photo 2-4

My test skeins include from left: Aurora Earth 8/2 natural, Aurora Earth 8/2 Maize, 5/2 Pearly Perle White, 5/2 Pearly Perle Natural.  I wonder how they will look after they dye in the indigo vat?

What’s so great about dyeing cotton with indigo?

Unlike with other dyes, cotton needs no pre-treatment when dyed in indigo, so all I had to do was wet the skeins and dip them in the indigo dye bath that was ready to use. 

Here goes!  I'm immersing the 5/2 Pearly Perle white into the Pre-Reduced Indigo Crystal Dye Bath from Dharma Trading Company.

Here goes! I’m immersing the 5/2 Pearly Perle white into the Pre-Reduced Indigo Crystal Dye Bath from Dharma Trading Company.

I wanted to see what I'd get if I dyed the Aurora Earth 8/2 Maize yellow in indigo

I wanted to see what I’d get if I dyed the Aurora Earth 8/2 Maize yellow in indigo

 

That's NOT BLUE! It's true.  When you pull the skein out of the reduced (oxygen deprived) dye bath it is yellow; when oxygen hits it

That’s NOT BLUE! It’s true. When you pull the skein out of the reduced (oxygen deprived) dye bath it is yellow; when oxygen hits it, the yarn turns to blue!

All four skeins changing from yellow (no oxygen) to blue (oxygenated)! How fun!

All four skeins changing from yellow (no oxygen) to blue (oxygenated)! How fun!

There we go. After a few minutes in the air, the greenish skeins turned blue!

There we go. After a few minutes in the air, the greenish skeins turned blue!

 And the final results are in!

INDIGO SKEINS

And this is how I fell in love with Indigo! My next project is to weave these up and see how they look. Be sure to sign up for Cotton Clouds’ Talk blog so you’ll see the results!

The magic of INDIGO & Shibori

 

The science of an INDIGO dye bath…..

All you need to know about INDIGO

Indigo header

Indigo is a very unique dye.  Unlike other dyes, it does not form a chemical bond with the fiber, rather, the dye molecule is physically trapped in the fiber molecules.  

When an indigo vat is prepared, it must be fermented or reduced to eliminate all oxygen.  This reduced indigo is called indigo white, and is soluble in water. 

You enter the yarn very carefully, introducing as little oxygen as possible into the vat.  The indigo white solution works its way into the yarn fibers.  When the yarn is removed from the vat, the indigo white immediately oxidizes to indigo blue, which is insoluble.  The indigo blue is trapped in the fiber molecules, effectively dyeing your fiber blue.  What does it all mean?  It means that when the fiber is physically worked, some of the blue indigo molecules become untrapped, and rub off (or crock). 

Jeans were originally dyed with indigo, and that’s why the high-abrasion areas like the knees and butt would lighten first.  Should you be worried about yarn dyed with indigo lightening too much?  Jeans are a pretty extreme case, most knitwear wouldn’t stand up to that kind of abuse anyway!  A typical piece of knitwear won’t be subject to enough abrasion to lighten significantly.

courtesy of Carrie Sundra of Alpenglow Yarns

Get blue this summer!

This is an excellent and very fun project to do outdoors this summer and especially with kids (aren’t we all!).  You can dye almost anything in indigo: cotton t-shirts, silk scarves, old sweaters, all those ugly-color skeins of yarn you don’t know what to do with, lots of Cotton Clouds yarns.  Try our Rainbow Ends 6# Assortment or our Pearly Perle 5/2  yarns for a fantastic summer top!

05/28/2014 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

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