Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Sunday, 29 July 2012

A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Cotton Spinning and Summer Changes

First went the hair, then the beard and now the boy is gone, back to the West Coast in search of shelter, employment and time to pursue the things he loves:

The energy level drops as soon as he goes.  Morris and Mickey mope and Mr. and Mrs. DD are a bit sad, too.  Young Mr. DD is doing exactly what he was raised to do-build a life for himself and, above all, follow his bliss.

I've been working on my bliss the past week, finishing up the 100 gram bag of hand painted Easy to Spin Cotton I bought from Celeigh Wool at Olds Fibre Week.  Here she is, all 560 metres (about 600 yards) of 2 ply, sorta, kinda, fractal spun yarn:

530 metres/100 grams is fairly fine yarn, but not frustratingly so.  I'm torn as to what she'll become; right now, it's a toss up between a shawl and a light, short modular jacket for travel.  I'm not sure I have enough yardage for the jacket, although the design I have in mind is knitted very loosely and ideally, should weigh next to nothing.  I do have bags of other naturally coloured cotton ready to go, so I could make a jacket using those.

It's usually a good idea to boil hand spun cotton as a finishing bath.  Boiling cotton removes the pectin, along with the grime.  It can shift the colour of the natural cottons dramatically. Past experience with overheated finishing baths for variegated dyed wool yarns made me suspect that boiling this dyed cotton might not be a good idea.  Even if the dyes are well set, the heat can reactivate the dye molecules and turn all those pretty colours to mud.  I decided to give this skein a hot wash in EcoMax laundry detergent first.  My suspicions proved to be correct.  This is a photograph of the skein in the final rinse water after 3 hours of repeated washing and rinses, in attempts to get the dye to stop bleeding:

This is the skein in the same water this morning:

I'm not taking any chances.  I may wash the skein one more time with Synthrapol. The finished product from this yarn will be washed in cold water, perhaps with some salt in the wash and rinse (which sometimes helps to prevent bleeding).

I discovered that my Louet Victoria wheel works wonderfully well for spinning cotton.  (Note that in the review that comes up when you click the link, Abby did not test spin cotton.)  My Bosworth charkha would have been a good choice, as would my tahkli, but if I used those tools, I'd be spinning cotton for a long time. I'm not a fast cotton spinner and there would have been many, many joins in the yarn.  This cotton was started in Olds; I spun the yarn over the past couple of weeks.

By the way, that "momentary lapse of reason" mentioned in the blog title?  Well, that occurred when the end of the last rewound bobbin of fine singles cotton snapped and buried itself into the layers of thread, just because my attention drifted for a brief second.  The end was well-hidden and there was a slight (uh, huh) moment of panic. I knew that the end would be a bit fuzzy; that it was purple and that it would sit on top of all the other layers of thread at some point.  A good light, tweezers, patience, attention and a bit of calming breath work were required, but the yarn end resurfaced after a minute or two.  Just in case I hadn't learned my lesson about allowing my attention to drift, the only break I had in this yarn happened when I looked away while plying.  The yarn caught on something and "snap!" both plies broke. It was an easy repair, but I didn't lose my focus again!

Safe journey to Young Mr. DD.



  1. Love the colours in that skein. It'll be even more gorgeous when knitted up!

  2. I thought i was the only person who know of the miracle that is Synthropol! That stuff ROCKS!

    Lovely yarn, too!

    1. It certainly takes care of dye run off! Thanks to you both for the kind comments.

  3. An old toothbrush is a great tool for finding the embedded broken end of singles yarn on the bobbin. Lightly brushing the yarn in the opposite direction of the wind on will usually find the tuft end fairly quickly. The yarn is beautiful.

  4. Thanks for the tip. There are always solutions, once you get past the "urge to scream" panic reaction! Everything turned out well in the end.