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.
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:
However, if you have forgotten, you can spin:
For plants, you can spin:
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.
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.
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.
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!
Connie Peterson, Team Cotton Clouds Cottontail Captain
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.
An Idea Is Born
The Natural Dye Project
More Than A Living Wage
Rocío Mena Our Angel
Yes, a HUGE Success!
How you can support this project.
The Natural Dye Project Team
Follow Rocío’s Journey in San Rafael
Update: SPINZILLA 2013!
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.
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!
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.
$25 Cotton Clouds gift certificate. This will be given to one random team member! Spinzilla will also be giving away Gift Certificates!
Hand Dyed Cotton Sliver
Join our Team!
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!
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!
A gallery of our 2013 handspun winners! Well, everyone on our team was a winner!
Happy Spinning everyday, but most of all let’s all combine forces October 6-12, 2014 and bust some butt during SPINZILLA!
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!
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!
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
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).
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.
And the final results are in!
The magic of INDIGO & Shibori
The science of an INDIGO dye bath…..
All you need to know about INDIGO
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!
Did 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.
- 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!
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:
- EZ-Dye Cotton Log Cabin Napkins Weaving Kit
- EZ-Dye Cotton Napkins: Spin Some Yarn and Weave It!
- EZ-Dye Cotton Napkins: Spin All Your Yarn and Weave It!
Everything You Need to Know is Here!
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.
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!
Celebrating 44 Years of Earth Day!
Did 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
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
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
If 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
Are 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!
Have fun knitting, weaving, crocheting and spinning with our organic cotton yarns and fibers! Irene & Jodi