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

Cotton Dyeing

1-eyeDid you know that your eyes are capable of distinguishing between 10 million colors? That’s what the experts say! Maybe you would like to make a purple sweater – do you want a purple that is more lilac, violet, or fuschia? If you have a specific color in mind for a project, you might want to try experimenting with dyeing your own yarn. Dyeing your own yarn is a fun project to try at home. The result of having your own unique colorway will add to the feeling of pride in your handiwork!

Dyeing Cotton Yarn

Cotton yarns require a slightly different approach for dyeing.

PCfibers

Cotton Fiber and Wool Fiber as seen under an electron microscope

  • Cotton is a cellulose fiber (not a protein fiber, like wool, alpaca, or human hair).
  • Prepare your yarn by winding it into a skein.
  • Wash your yarn to remove any spinning oil or wax that may prevent dye absorption. Click here to our “From Start To Finish: Cotton Spinning” video for specifics on this scouring process.
  • Pretreat the yarn
  • Use dyes that are specific for cellulose fibers – Cotton Clouds offers Botanical Dyes that are great option.

EZ Dye and Dye-Lishous

EZ-Dye (Dye-Lishous) Cotton Sliver and Cotton Yarn have been pre-mordanted so that the fiber will take up the dye so that you will not have to mordant your cotton prior to dyeing. This eliminates the pretreatment step, saving time, money, energy and water!

Top: Botanical Dyes, EZ-Dye Dye Lishus Cotton Sliver undyed and dyed; Bottom: EZ Dye Cotton woven into Napkins

Top: Botanical Dyes, EZ-Dye Dye Lishus Cotton Sliver   Bottom: EZ Dye Cotton woven into Napkins

The other great advantage of EZ Dye Cotton is that it can be dyed so easily after spinning and weaving. Weave the EZ-Dye (Dye-Lishus) yarn by itself or with an untreated cotton yarn. The fun begins when you immerse the finished cloth in a dye bath! The treated EZ-Dye (Dye-Lishus) cotton yarn will absorb the dye, and the untreated will not. Imagine napkins, baby blankets, shawls, and jackets that can be quickly woven without color. Once you know what color you want your log cabin or shadow weave project, you simply dye it! Magic!

Here are the kits CottonClouds.com has ready for you:

 Everything You Need to Know is Here!

Handspinning Cotton

Whether you’re a hand spinner or just want to know the most successful way to spinning cotton yarns, this newly re-published (by Cotton Clouds) book, Handspinning Cotton will give you all the recipes you’ll need to dye your cotton!

 Dyeing with Drink Mix

An easy introduction to dyeing, and one that is also a fun activity to do with kids, is to use powdered drink mix. You’ll end up with a yarn in a unique colorway and one that smells fruity too! Just know that the color will fade over time and with washing.

Yarn Dyeing

Cotton yarn before, during, and after a dip in a summertime drink “dye” bath!

 

 What’s Your Dyeing Experience?

We’d love to hear about your experiences with dye experiments! Leave us a comment here on the blog, share it on our Facebook page, or post in our Ravelry group.  If you’re inspired to give dyeing a try, be sure to check out our Pinterest boards for even more inspiration!

 

05/19/2014 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

Reuse and Rejoice!

 

Celebrating 44 Years of Earth Day!

treeDid you know that if every household in the U.S used just 1 less 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towel 544,000 trees could be saved?

Cotton Clouds has a variety of organic cottons that can be used for both weaving and knitting kitchen towels, helping you to ditch the disposable paper products.

In turn, you’ll save money, be a good steward of the planet and a great role model for the future generations!

 

Weaving Kitchen Towels

weavingtowels

It’s not always easy to FIND the time to weave, but because you love that feeling of accomplishment and watching warp and weft inter-mingle to become cloth, you MAKE the time to weave. To help, we have more than 65 all-natural towel kits from which to choose! Shown here, starting in the top left, are the All Natural Kitchen Towels in Cottolin, Rigid Heddle Kitchen Kitsch Towels, Aurora Earth Rainbow Sampler, and the Touch of Spring Towel.

 

Knitting Towels & Cloths

knittowels

Who doesn’t love a pop of color in their home? These knit towels are a fancy enough to be a lovely gift and practical for everyday use!  Seedling, from Classic Elite, is an organic fiber that is more robust and less stressed by chemicals so it has an increased absorbancy and color intensity. The Lace Edged Hand Towel, shown on the left is available as a free download, as is the Bubble Up Towel, shown in the center. Pakucho is a naturally colored organic cotton, available in Sport or Worsted, and a wonderful choice for kitchen towels as well. The Mitered Hanging Towel shown on the right, another free pattern, is a throw back to a style you might know and love from the older generations in your family. They knew what they were talking about and put a high value on a fresh dishtowel each day!

Classic Potholder Weaving Project

loopsIf you’re a fan of color or nostalgia you’ll love these Potholder kits! Cotton is a great choice for potholders as it won’t melt and is easy to clean! We source 100% recycled cotton yarns, made from waste fabric from the clothing industry that is shredded and re-spun into yarn, then knit on old (1960′s) refurbished  pantyhose knitting machines.

Potholders can also be sewn together to make place mats or rugs. Boys and girls love to express their creativity with colorful cotton loopers in the Deluxe Potholder Kit! Potholder loom weaving is not new, take a look at our Pinterest boards to see a collection of the vintage looms and inspired projects

More Project Inspiration

CCravbuttonAre you a Ravelry member? Our CottonClouds.com group is open to all cotton fans.

We would love to see your projects and encourage you to share them in our group!

Don’t clutter your space with rolls of paper towels or guest towels wrapped in plastic. These hand-made items are pieces of useable art!

Cotton Clouds is committed to recycling!

cloud recycling

Have fun knitting, weaving, crocheting and spinning with our organic cotton yarns and fibers!  Irene & Jodi

04/11/2014 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Oh Baby!

What do you think of when you think of Spring?

Color, new life and a time of renewal all come to mind for me!

Cotton Clouds brings you a burst of color and new projects for the little ones in your life, perfect gifts for upcoming baby showers, first birthdays, and other fun events on your calendar.

Read on for our great baby kit deal!

Modern Cotton Project Inspiration

Modern Cotton, a Pima Cotton/Modal Rayon blend yarn, is a great choice for any baby project. The stitch definition, easy care and generous yardage is a great jumping point for so many projects – just imagine the possibilities!

Garments for babies and children can be a great way to learn a new technique, and they work up quickly. A special handmade Diggory or Rosebay sweater or Bilberry dress is also personal and more unique than anything you might pick up in a big box retail shop.

Wouldn’t the Babbity Bunny would be adorable peeking out of an Easter basket, and you can make two from one kit!

MCyarns

Our New Modern Cotton Baby Blanket (shown here in Mackeral)
Modern Cotton Colors(top to bottom): Bluebird, Brickley, Waterfire, Bluffs, Iggy

Of course, there is a baby blanket pattern and with the range of colors it is easy to go with a traditional colorway or bold and bright. We have kits for each of the projects shown above, they are a great click-and-purchase grab-and-go project!

Weaving for the Wee Ones

Is there anything cozier than wrapping up in a handmade blanket? Woven blankets are always a welcome gift! Durable and lightweight, you will enjoy exploring color and texture as you create the fabric.

Cotton Cloud’s Baby Blanket Weaving kit-of-the-month club will give you just the right amount of yarn for each project without having to buy full size cones.

Our Basic Baby Blanket Collection features all 100% Cotton blankets plus one luxurious silk/bambu blend yarn blanket.

The four kits included in the Deluxe Collection features bamboo, rayon chenille and 100% cotton yarns. All of the blankets are machine wash and dryable, a real plus for any baby item.

Truly Unique Baby Gifts

For a truly unique and special baby gift, take a look at this woven Heirloom Christening Gown. It is suitable for a boy or girl, heirloom quality, and affordable in perle cotton and Bambu. The kit also includes enough yarn to make a matching set of booties!

Baby-wearing is not a new idea but has come back into fashion. The Rosepath Baby Wrap will let Mom keep her baby close, calm and happy while having her hands free!

Exclusive FREESHIP KIT Sale! freeshiptruck

What project are you most excited to start? To celebrate all things baby, when you spend $75 or more at Cotton Clouds on any of the baby kits in March, enjoy Free Shipping with the code BABY.

We have even more project inspiration for baby over on our Pinterest board!

We hope you’ll share your completed projects for your favorite little ones over on Facebook or in our Ravelry group!

Happy Baby! Happy Spring! Happy All Things New & Beautiful!

Irene & Jodi

03/17/2014 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

Organic Cotton for Baby

Introducing 100% Organic Cotton Baby Kits from Appalachian Baby Designs

Collage

Appalachian Baby Design takes a distinctive American approach to handmade baby gifts. They provide the designs, yarns and gift packaging for the discerning knitter and crocheter to create an heirloom gift, using the finest natural fibers and accessories.

These kits are tributes to the quality, caring and good health, intended to be passed on and cherished for generations to come.

100% USA grown organic cotton yarns

All kits include 100% USA made organic cotton that’s a beautiful cable-plied yarn, easy-to-care (machine wash and dry able) and oh so so soft; time-tested, detailed instructions, hand painted buttons and trims where applicable.

You’ll find a wealth of adorable sweaters, blankets, hats, booties and spa sets perfect to give your favorite baby!

Our Organic Cotton yarn in these Appalachian Baby Designs is sourced directly from Texas cotton farms where it is custom spun into an exceptionally soft yarn that is easy-care machine wash and  dry.

The pure fiber’s natural color (no harsh dyes) makes it a gender neutral classic.

Check out these new Appalachian Baby Design kits. We love them and think you will too!

Happy Baby, Happy Knitting!

visit us online at http://www.cottonclouds.com/kits 

03/11/2014 at 9:14 pm 3 comments

The birth of a baby afghan

 

Got BABY?  Need Blanket?

Annie's Afghan CC

Make square after square for a collection of washcloths for Baby, or stitch them together for a cuddly blankie! 

Cotton Clouds’ has put this Annie’s pattern  book together along with Cotton Classic  yarns and made it into a KIT!

Looking for a simple yet beautiful gift for that new one? Look no further than this baby blocks collection. This book includes instructions for 10 easy-to-knit blocks, each featuring a different textured pattern. Also included are instructions for a block with a slip-stitch pattern; this block is worked 10 times, with each block using different colors for the stripes.

Annie's 5

Worked in soft Cotton Classic, 100% cotton yarn and sewn together, the 20 blocks create a lovely baby blanket. Knit individually, they work equally well as washcloths for bath time.

The textured patterns are very geometric—diamonds, squares, basket weaves, circles, zigzag and more. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the variety of stitch patterns as you work each 8-inch block. Special consideration was taken that the blocks do not have any lace holes or strands of yarn to catch little fingers or toes.

So grab your yarn and needles and get started on this fun, portable and always interesting project! It’s easy to order this all-in-one BABY BLOCK AFGHAN KIT with all the Cotton Classic  yarns and instructions you’ll need!

Meet the Designer

designerMy mother taught me to knit when I was 9 or 10 years old, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I picked up the needles again, and I haven’t put them down since. What started out as a hobby, knitting for my three children, has become a full-time career. I began knitting model garments for the yarn industry, and at the same time working on some of
my own designs.

I then began doing freelance designing, and my patterns have appeared in the collections of Classic Elite, Fiber Trends, Tahki Stacy Charles, Lion Brand Yarns and others. They have been published by Annie’s and Interweave Press. In 2001,
I launched my own business, Lisa Knits, a line of knitwear patterns that are available in yarn shops across
the country.page3image18856page3image19016

Basic Block & Afghan Informationpage5image2192page5image2352page5image2512

Skill Level: EasyAnnie;s Afghan4

Finished Measurements

Block: 8 x 8 inches

Afghan: 32 x 40 inches

Materials

  • Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic (DK weight; 100% mercerized cotton;
    108 yds/50g per hank):
  • 6 hanks butter yellow #3548 (A);
  • 2 hanks each coral #3473 (B), leaf green #3716 ,(C) soft turquoise #3816 (D), light denim #3847 (E) and light wisteria #3915 (F)
  • Size 7 (4.5mm) needles or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Stitch markers (optional)

Gauge

20 sts and 28 rows = 4 inches/10cm in St st. To save time, take time to check gauge.A121090 copy

Pattern Notes

The afghan consists of 20 blocks made with Cotton Classic yarns: 1 each of the 10 different-color textured blocks and 10 slip-stitch blocks that are worked with 1 main color and  2 contrasting colors that vary with each block.

Each textured block requires approximately 70 yards. Each slip-stitch block requires approximately
50 yards of A (main color) and 14 yards each of 2 contrasting colors.

Each block begins and ends with 41 stitches.
The borders are worked in Seed stitch and the centers are worked in the different pattern stitches. If desired, place markers between the 4-stitch
Seed stitch borders and the main pattern stitches. See each block for the pattern stitches.

Finishing

With A and using whipstitch or mattress stitch seam, using Cotton Classic yarn to sew blocks together create a 4-column, 5-row checkerboard of textured blocks (Blocks 1–10) and slip- stitch blocks (Blocks 11A–11J) in any order desired.

Order BABY BLOCK AFGHAN KIT now and save $12!

Annie;s Afghan3It’s a great way to learn 10 new textured stitch patterns!

Make 20 practical and soft washcloths for baby or yourself!

Create a luscious baby blanket afghan for your favorite baby!

Made with 100% mercerized Cotton Classic cotton yarn!

Machine wash and dryable!

Baby will love you for their  blankie and so will the happy parents!

                                                              Enjoy,  Irene & Jodi

visit us online at www.cottonclouds.com .  Register for e-newsletter sales and product updates.  Join us on Facebook for lots of fun and prizes.

02/26/2014 at 6:29 am Leave a comment

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