Posts filed under ‘Spinning Cotton’

Why I love the Sidekick!

Free Shipping*, Free Fibers, Free Gift till 7/15/16

Meet the Schacht Sidekick Spinning Wheel!

Sidekick Collage 11-20-15 3

An Unconventional Spinning Wheel

Five years ago I would have never guessed that I would fall in love with such an unconventional-looking spinning wheel! But let’s not yet judge this wheel by it’s looks!

My first and Only Wheel?

For over 30 years, I’d been spinning on a typical vintage-style wheel that was the love of my life. Well, geez, I learned to spin hand-carded wool from a fleece shorn just down the hill from me in NorthWest Arkansas.  Mind you, that was way back in 1973 when the only wheels around were old rickety ones that weren’t very efficient or those, like mine thatIrene & Ashford wheel 1973 had to be ordered from New Zealand and put together on my living room floor.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved that spinning wheel.  It had seen me through thick and thin, through moves from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Santa Barbara, California to Northern and then Southeastern Arizona.  My “treat-it-rough” and throw it in the back of my Honda CRX to spin-ins, workshops and retreats never disappointed.  I learned to spin my first cotton on it from my mentors Harry & Olive Linder.

 

 

Irene circa 1990

 

It went to a friend who was starting to teach spinning and couldn’t afford to purchase as many wheels as she needed for each beginning spinner.  Someone bought it.  It disappeared from my hectic life growing Cotton Clouds into a successful mail order business.

 

 

The Ingeniously Designed Sidekick Showed Up!

Then low and behold, Schacht Spindle Company ingeniously built the Sidekick with the same ingenuity as their Matchless and Lady Bug wheels.  But there was something very unique about the Sidekick.  It was so portable that once I tried it and was convinced it was the kind of wheel I needed, I began throwing in over my shoulder and taking it to parks, to the bank, to downtown street festivals to share my enthusiasm for (cotton) spinning with the rest of the world.Sidekick wheel

It’s Everything I Want in a Wheel!

The Sidekick is everything I’ve ever looked for in a spinning wheel.  It is so responsive to the way I spin, which is mostly using a long draw to spin cotton.  Although I love it for spinning cotton, it will spin every staple-length of wool, cashmere, alpaca, linen and more making it very versatile as well!  It has a wide range of gear ratios (ratios between 4.25 to 15.25.), allowing for these different staple lengths.  It’s an efficient little wheel too!  Double treadles allow you to keep the momentum going with a lot less physical effort.  It’s designed to be very stable and won’t move around as you spin.  Are you wondering what that teal blue wheel is made of?  It’s a steel tire rim that spins and spins and spins because it is so beautifully balanced. While it’s not your traditional spinning wheel with a standard wood wheel, it does the job better and more steadily than anything else!  Of course, the Sidekick is made with all the fine craftsmanship that Schacht Spindle Company is known for.  It can’t be outdone!

Take it on the Go: On Airplanes, On Vacation, On Retreats & Classes!

Sidekick JaneAnd finally, besides all that I’ve praised the Sidekick for above, one of my very favorite attributes about this wheel is that it is so very lightweight, easily collapses to fit into a shoulder carry bag, making it the best spinning wheel on the market and my #1 favorite spinning wheel. Schacht has cleverly incorporated “quick-release” hardware from the bicycle industry to make collapsing it quick and easy. Comes with a handy carry-strap for on-the-go portability!

Sidekick Carry Bag !

sidekick-bags1Take your Sidekick Spinning Wheel wherever you go!  This Carry Bag is made of rugged recycled polyester fabric with a heavy-duty zipper, bound interior seams and padded to protect your wheel. The Sidekick Bag is designed to fit your Sidekick Spinning Wheel safely and snugly inside. There’s ample room, too, for 3 bobbins and the Collapsible Lazy Kate.  Dimensions: 23″ x 15 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ when packed. The Sidekick Carry Bag can be purchased separately.

Sidekick Lazy Kate!

Schacht took physics to heart when they designed this Lazy Kate. It’s built low to the lazy-kate-collapsible ground (no tipping over during plying), has a unique tensioning feature (no more bobbin back-spinning during plying), and accommodates up to three bobbins. It can be easily disassembled, making it easy to transport or pack — no tools required! This Kate can be used with other spinning wheel bobbins up to 7″ in length. A Collapsible Lazy Kate can be purchased separately.

Meet the Sidekick and Decide for Yourself!

Watch these two short Youtube videos to get to know the Sidekick and see it in motion!  Watch Barry Schacht show you how easy it is to make the Sidekick portable.

Meet the Sidekick!

Watch the Sidekick in Motion!

Oops! Turn your screen or your head!

In My Own Opinion!

With over 35 years of spinning experience, let me tell you that this is a very intelligent spinning wheel.  I highly recommend it to you!

We have a very limited supply in stock.  Feel free to call me directly at 1-800-322-7888 if you have any questions about the Sidekick Spinning Wheel!

Irene Laughing Cloud Schmoller, founder and owner of Cotton Clouds.

Free Shipping*, Free Fibers, Free Gift till 7/15/16

*Free Shipping applies to 48 US States.

12/11/2015 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

Getting ready to spin! by guest blogger, Connie Peterson

Are you ready for Spinzilla?

Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals compete in a friendly challenge to see who can spin the most yarn in a week!  To learn more about how the event works, visit SPINZILLA Our Cotton Clouds team is full, but there are still some openings on other teams you can join.  

Spinzilla header

Twenty-Five Team Members

Team Cotton Clouds’ Cotton Tails is ready to meet the challenge of spinning for an entire week!  I am Connie (The Great) Peterson, Team Cotton Clouds’ Cotton Tails team captain .

Connie Peterson at her wheel

As team captain, it is my responsibility to cheer all team members on, to set an example of spinning as much as I can for the entire week (husband farmed out, laundry will be done, animals informed  and dinners pre-made in the freezer) and to finally calculate all member’s yardage.

Join us on Ravelry

avatarWhether you are part of the Cotton Clouds Cotton Tails Spinzilla team or not, you can join us on Ravelry to read posts by team members, get some cotton spinning tips by team member spinning experts, Joan Ruane and Jill Holbrook and just LOL at some of our antics.  We’d love to have you cheer us on!

Lots of fiber choices to spin!

FibersWhile you can spin whatever fiber you choose, Cotton Clouds’ owner, Irene Schmoller has asked me to spin some cotton during Spinzilla.  She says that the more you spin cotton, the more familiar you get with spinning it, the better cotton spinner you will be.

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.

However, if you have forgotten, you can spin:

I can insert pics of these animals for you.

  • camel,
  • yak,
  • buffalo,
  • musk ox (did you know that “qiviet” is the most expensive fiber and yarn in the world?),
  • goat,
  • rabbit,
  • dog, and cat (very difficult to spin cat, though).

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,
  • bamboo
  • COTTON of course!

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.

If it’s cotton: All About Cotton Spinning kit

All About Cotton Spinning Kit

All About Cotton Spinning Kit

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.

Handspinning Cotton: Everything you need to know!

Handspinning Cotton

Handspinning Cotton

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

Take it everywhere: The Tahkli!

Sue Cutter spinning on Tahkli with cat helping

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. But hey, if you are away from your wheel (we all have those times when we need to do other human chores) take your tahkli spindle with you.  It spins and spins and keeps on spinning!

Spinning cotton on your wheel is fast!

wheel spinning cottonSpinning cotton on my wheel is faster.  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.

Watch a pro spin cotton sliver!

Here is a quick video of Vickie Starbuck spinning Sea Island Cotton Sliver on her wheel.  See, with practice it can be this easy and this fast!

 

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.

Happy Spinning!

Connie (The Great) Peterson, Cotton Tails Team Captain.

09/23/2015 at 6:05 pm Leave a comment

Global Citizens, Global Community

How big is your creative community?

waderlust

Our lives as fiber artists are woven together through a common thread of passion for color, texture, technique and purpose.

This community  is bigger than you might think! Right now, around the world, people are weaving, spinning, knitting and crocheting!

Thanks to the internet, we have more options than ever before to learn and share our different techniques, styles and cultures as we manipulate our favorite fibers. Cottonclouds.com is pleased to be a common thread between you and the global community of fiber artists!

Sari Silk: Helping women earn a fair wage!

Sari Silk is a 100% recycled multi-colored silk spun from recycled “saris” that women South Asia wear. Silk sari fabric is shredded and then respun into a vibrant silk yarn.

This industry helps support the many struggling economic regions of Nepal and India and mainly benefits the women and women’s development groups there.

Whether you choose to spin your own sari silk yarn from the silk fiber, purchase the sari silk yarn, or one of our sari silk kits (click on kits above, to learn more) , you’ll be helping women around the world as well as creating a truly unique product. I love Sari Silk!

 Folk Series: Bring the world to your fingertips!

For the worldly-minded knitters, travel the world and explore the culture with the Folk Series of books from Interweave Press. The history and traditions, folk stories, and regional histories from the countries of origin are presented in each volume.

What a wonderful way to connect to these folk traditions.

You too can Weave a Real Peace: Join WARP!

WarpCollagereCornersRemember the phrase, Act Locally, Think Globally? Weaving a Real Peace (WARP) is an international networking organization based in the United States that delivers. Founded in 1992, WARP offers a forum for those interested in supporting individuals and organizations that strive to maintain long-standing textile traditions.

Their resource guide is available just by clicking here! WARP was started by Deborah Chandler who wrote Learning to Weave.

Come join me at WARP’s Annual Meeting May 29-31, 2015 in the Bay Area and feel part of the global “tribe of fiber artists”. Rocio Mena Gutierrez  (read her blog)  will be giving a presentation on the Importance of Textiles to Grassroots Economies in Guatemala.

Travel to Guatemala from the comfort of your loom!

Mayan Hands, a fair-trade organization The Natural Dye Project brought the ancient craft of dyeing cotton yarns with local plants to the women of San Rafael, Guatemala and to produce these Friendship Towels with Tintes Naturals that you can now weave!

FriendshiptowelsCorners

As you weave these gorgeous naturally dyed towels, you will not only be creating a set of four all-cotton towels, but you will be giving the women of Guatemala a chance of better life and honoring the skills they have spent a lifetime learning.

Over 150 kits have been sold; the women’s annual, fair-trade income increased ten-fold from the sale of these kits. A joint community effort of dyeing instructors, towel designer, graphic artist, and Cotton Clouds marketing of this kit has all been done through volunteer work.

Join the community of  our Kit-of-the-Month Members!

Cottonclouds.com Kits

In the spirit of continuing the community, Cotton Clouds has created a new group on Facebook: the Cotton Clouds Kit-of-the-Month Club. If you have participated in any of our monthly Kits or Clubs, please join us!

Creating Community one post at-a-time!

This group is a place to ask questions, share your projects and be inspired by the work of others. Our kits are easy and affordable, and there is something for every fiber artist! Now is a great time to check out the variety we offer and ensure that 2015 will be your year to feel creative and accomplished!

Insta-Community on Instagram!

CCIGSay Cheese! You can now connect with us on Instagram, we’re @CottonCloudsYarns. We’d love to see what you are doing with your cotton and natural fibers: spinning, knitting, weaving, crocheting or even dyeing!

It is truly rewarding to feel connected to the thread of fiber artists all over the world whether here at home or half way across the globe.

Irene Schmoller, Cotton Clouds’ founder and owner.

01/19/2015 at 7:22 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

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 1 comment

Challenge Yourself!

Does February feel slower to you? We’re not running around for the holiday season anymore and depending on the weather in your area you might be experiencing a touch of cabin fever, having to stay inside to avoid the bitter cold and snow. What can you do to keep those creative juices flowing? We’ll turn to the Winter Olympics for a bit of inspiration!

Ravellenic Games

CCravellenics2

  • The Ravellenic Games are a virtual “competition” to work on projects that are a personal challenge for you!
  • Work from the comfort of your own home – connect with others on Ravelry.
  • During the Olympic Games (Feb.7 – Feb. 23., 2014) Spin, Weave, Knit or Crochet!
  • Continue the momentum after the Games end:  make your own challenge to follow March Madness or practice for this year’s Spinzilla event!

Spinning Cotton

SpinCotton

Is spinning cotton a personal challenge for you? Cotton Clouds has all the resources you need to take your spinning to the next level! We also have gathered tips and tutorials here on our website.

Weaving Spotlight

FebWeave

Have you woven lace yet? The Atwater Bronson Lace Scarves uses our best selling Bambu 12 yarn, in 4 seasonal color combinations. The interesting texture and warp floats are created by using 8-shaft weaving. When we look at this we are reminded of Pantone’s 2014 colors, so trendy!

We’re here to cheer you on! You can spin cotton, weave cotton, knit and crochet with cotton and have fabulous results! If you have a project you’re proud of let us know – share a link to your blog in the comments here or post to our Facebook page!

02/19/2014 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

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