Posts tagged ‘Tahkli spindle’

What Ya’ Spinnin’?



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:

sheep wool

Connie the Great!

Connie Peterson, Team Captain with Roxy

However, if you have forgotten, you can spin:



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



rabbit and spindle
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



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.


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

We’ve Made Summer Cotton Spinning Easier with Free Shipping!

cotton-basketAs summer temperatures continue to climb, we’re happy to be surrounded by soft, cool clouds of cotton fiber. Cotton really is a dream to spin and knit in the summer months, and the finished yarn is perfect for everything from a woven set of placemats to a lightweight knit sweater. With a few days left in our extended Free Shipping Sale, now is the perfect time to grab a spindle and get to spinning!

If you’re new to spinning cotton, don’t be intimidated! There are a wide variety of resources to get you started, and once you learn, you’ll be hooked! Wondering about terms like boll, punis, or sliver? For a quick primer on the different types of cotton fiber, click below to watch our Cotton Fibers for Spinning from Seed to Sliver video (or read more about it in this recent newsletter). It’s a quick walkthrough that will take the mystery out of cotton terminology, and it will also introduce you to the different types of cotton fiber available for spinning.


When it comes time to pick your fiber, the options are nearly endless. Our All About Spinning Cotton Kit is a perennial favorite and includes a tahkli spindle, expert step-by-step illustrated instructions,  plus samples of many different types of cotton for you to experiment with. Once you’re done trying things out, choose from one of the many types of prepared cotton for your next project. You’ll find a full selection on our website, but here are a few of our favorites:

If more instruction is what you’re after, you’ll be happy to find that there is a great selection of DVDs and e-books. Try one of these options to take your cotton spinning skills to the next level:


From left: Cotton Spinning with the Takli by Joan Ruane, Cotton Spinning Made Easy by Joan Ruane, Spinning Cotton by Stephenie Gaustad, and Cotton: From Growing to Finishing by Spin-Off Magazine.

And don’t forget about our Free Shipping Sale, which has been extended until August 19th. You’ll receive free shipping on any order of cotton spinning fiber or cotton kits when you use promo code SPINCOTTON at checkout!

Stay cool, and happy spinning!

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07/27/2013 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Cotton Spinning Tips: Part 1

Cotton Spinning Tips

Cotton needs a lot of twist to hold together as a yarn! You can’t overtwist it!

Practice spinning cotton on a support (Tahkli) spindle to get the feel!

Begin with a long staple (Pima) cotton fiber either in lint (ginned) or Puni (carded into a rolag) form.

Set your wheel’s spinning ratio (wheel to revolutions of bobbin) to the highest, or sit farther back from the orifice.

Adjust your spinning wheel so that there is just enough draw-in to have control of the fibers as you spin.

Relax, sit back, take a deep breath and have fun spinning cotton

Cotton Fiber Preparation

09/22/2012 at 8:43 pm 1 comment

Spin Cotton On Any Spindle or Wheel

I first learned to spin cotton in a Cotton Spinning Workshop by Harry and Olive Linder. It was an amazing class. There was so much information; I was too new to absorb it all. I wish I could take the class again, but alas, they are no longer with us.

I left the class able to spin cotton slowly on my double drive band Saxony-type wheel. It took many support spindles and finally a Tahkli spindle before I really loved to spin cotton.

Support Spindles

Support spindles are the very best way to learn the “feel” of drafting cotton. The nice thing about support spindles is you are in control of the twist , you can stop them any time and they don’t reverse directions on you. Drafting cotton is a lovely thing. It is a very light and easy draft due to the short staple length of the fiber.  If you can, start with a puni. The fibers are compacted and have a better tendency to cling to each other.

The Tahkli Spindle

The Tahkli has the added benefit of spinning very fast. This quickly adds  the high twist needed to hold cotton together as a yarn. You can produce an amazing amount of yarn faster than you think spinning cotton on a Tahkli.

Backward Draw

I suggest using a backward draw to spin on a support spindle. In the backward draw the twist is going into the fiber as you are drafting back. You almost cannot feel the draft – it is so light. It is easier to watch the twist go into the drafting zone; holding the fiber very lightly, keep pulling back to stay just ahead of the twist so it stays in the drafting zone and does not move into fiber you are holding in your hand. This is sometimes called the point of twist draw.

This is the only draft you can use on a supported spindle or a Charka as one hand is needed to spin the spindle or turn the wheel on a Charka.

Top whorls, Bottom whorl

Suspended Spindles

For a suspended spindle (AKA drop spindle) you can use the backward draw or a short forward draw. The short forward draw gives you a little better control, at least at first, for a more consistent yarn. It is a slower way of producing yarn but it will work on almost any suspended spindle. I have not tried in on spindles that weigh more than 1 ½ ounces.  The densly compacted fibers of a puni are conducive to spinning on a suspended spindle.

Tips for starting to spin cotton on your wheel

Once you have the feel of drafting cotton you can spin cotton on any wheel. There are some adjustments that will make this easier. The primary aim is to decrease how fast the yarn is wrapped onto the bobbin so that sufficient twist will be added to the newly spun yarn so that it will strong enough to hold together.

Very fast flyer, Lendrum
Note the small whorls

Spinning Wheels & Ratios

  • A wheel with a fast flyer or a lace flyer will spin cotton more effieciently.
  • Fast flyers or lace flyers are made to add more twist in your yarn during spinning.
  • These flyers have high ratios. A high ratio would be 24:1 or higher.
  • A ratio is the number of times the flyer goes around (inserting a twist each time) for each revolution of your wheel.
  • The wheel goes around once each time you treadle.
  • So if the ratio is 24:1 then the flyer goes around 24 times inserting 24 twists for one treadle.
  • If you are using a short forward draw –for example a one inch draw – for each treadle then 24 twists will go into that one inch of yarn. (Probably not something you would want).
  • If you are using the long backward draw and you draw back seven inches and let the yarn go in for each treadle then those 24 twists will spread out over those seven inches.

Cotton Friendly Wheels

Thankfully spinning wheel manufacturers are making fast flyers for our spinning wheels today. Ashford, Louet and Schacht, all available at Cotton Clouds, have fast flyers for many of their wheels.  The Ashford wheels also have the Lace Flyer Kit designed to give ratios up to 30:1 to 40:1  for the Traditional and Traveler spinning wheels.

Flyer Driven Wheels

  • If you have a fast flyer, use that starting with the largest whorl. If you do not have a fast flyer start with the smallest whorl you have.
  • For all wheels, decrease the tension on the drive band on the wheel until the wheel does not turn at all, and then slowly increase the tension on the wheel just until the wheel turns.
  • If your wheel has a  brake do the same with the brake–take the tension off the brake then slowly increase the brake until the leader on the bobbin starts to be pulled into the orifice. This is your starting point for spinning cotton.
  • Adjust the tension on the brake first if you need to increase the uptake—that is the “pull-in” of the newly made yarn.
  • If you have a double drive band you will need to increase the tension on the drive band to increase the uptake of your yarn.

Bobbin Driven Wheels

  • For Bobbin driven (the drive band is on the bobbin) wheels, you may need to take the brake off completely to slow the uptake of yarn.
  • If you are still having trouble with your yarn being pulled into the orifice too fast you can slow down the uptake  by criss-crossing the yarn on the hooks and starting to spin on a half full bobbin.

Happy Cotton Spinning!

Visit for all you cotton spinning supplies: fibers, tools, wheels, DVD’s, books and more!

06/12/2012 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

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