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Sunday, June 18, 2006

MG: cotton attempt

last time i saw Kitty Kitty, she handed me a generously over-sized bag of fibers--souvenirs from this year's trip to MS&W. her benefaction included naturally colored, organic cotton from Carolyn Partridge (in addition to spinner and shepherd, she is also a Vermont State Representative. very cool.) of The Good Shepherd.

i love this fiber because: conventional cotton, grown on 2.5% of farmed land, consumes almost 25% of all insecticides and more than 10% of all pesticides used world-wide; it takes 1/3 pound of chemicals--some of which are extremely toxic, endocrine-disruptors, carcinogenic, cause much illness, and creep into our food chain--to grow conventional cotton for a single t-shirt; it grows in pretty colors; supports biodiversity, cultural diversity, crop rotation, companion planting; and helps to alleviate poverty amongst small farmers in poor nations.

my first attempt. i alternated between shortdraw and from-the-tip, point-of-contact longdraw (though i didn't have this terminology at the time). you can see neat, little bands of shortdraw interspersed with sad bands of longdraw (labeled, large photo here).

the shortdraw yarns are dense, strong, and even, but handspinning any appreciable amount of cotton this way isn't quite practical. the fibers are extremely short (less than an inch; that's why so much twist is needed to hold the yarn together), thus shortdraw-drafting requires an infinite number of itty-bitty movements.

i was under the impression of having an adequate longdraw... with bluefaced leicester... at some point, but my cotton longdraw was a mess. tufts of thick bits; constantly falling apart. i couldn't seem to put enough twist in it with the longdraw. you can see the contrast below.

but then i ran to the library, checked out some spinning books, and improved! learning much about drafting methodologies and dispelling previous misconceptions along the way... more next time.

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