Showing posts with label Fiber-Other. Show all posts

Nentes Plantarum Spinalong

Nentes Plantarum Spinalong
(Spinning Plants Spinalong)

You may have noticed, HipStrings and The Homestead Hobbyist like each other. Like, BFF like each other. We’ve supported each other over the years both professionally and personally, bounced ideas off one another, shared our thoughts on fiber and equipment suppliers, and bought so much of the other’s fiber that it’s a bit ridiculous.

And now, we’re taking our friendship to the next level: We’re collaborating together for a spinalong this fall!

We worked together to design a custom blend of fiber: Polwarth/Natural Tussah Silk/Flax 62.5/25/12.5. The natural, unbleached tussah and flax gives the undyed fiber a wonderful creamy color that adds lots of depth to the dyed braids.

Because we both also share a background in plant research (and because of the plant fiber—flax—included in the blend) we chose to create colorways inspired by plants for this spinalong. We are each offering three colorways based on plants with connections to our lives. With six unique colorways, we’re looking forward to spinning along with everyone and sharing our love for plants.

Sinningia (The Homestead Hobbyist)
Photographed by me



Sinningia are relatives to African Violets, but since I can’t grow African Violets to save my life, Sinningia are my jam! Most of them produce tubers (underground or mostly underground storage organs—like potatoes, which I spent a year studying at the USDA (well, I was doing research on a “biocontrol agent,” a microbe that produced proteins that killed Colorado potato beetles, which can be devastating pests to one of our nation’s primary crops)), so if I forget to water them for a few months, they’re still alive when I get around to taking care of them. Most of them have a winter dormancy, which is perfect for an apartment gardener who has to move plants inside in the fall. (If there isn’t a ton of foliage that will be shocked by the transition or unhappy with the lower light levels, the plants will be happier in the long run!) Sinningia flowers come in a wide range of colors—lots of reds, oranges, and shades of purples, even some white! I was introduced to Sinningia by my friend Kyoko and other gesneriad enthusiasts in Washington, DC, so they hold a particular fondness to me.

Plants that inspired this colorway are: Sinningia defoliata, Sinningia muscicola, Sinningia sellovii, Sinningia hybrids (“Florist’s Gloxinia”)

Amorphophallus (The Homestead Hobbyist)
Photograph from Plant Delights Nursery



The genus Amorphophallus translates into “deformed penis.” If you look at photos of the flowers, you’ll see why it’s called that! Amorphophallus are aroids, related to Philodendron, Jack in the Pulpit, and Peace Lily.

The name Amorphophallus makes children of all ages titter, and when the plant flowers, it smells like rotting meat! (Not all species—but many.) The most famous Amorphophallus is the Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, which flowers once about every decade, with a flower up to 10 feet tall with a strong aroma of dead, decomposing flesh. Amorphophallus and its close relatives are some of my favorite plants-with-underground-storage-organs to grow, along with Sinningia.

The ripening fruit and moo-cow patterning on the peduncle (flower stalk) of Amorphophallus kiusianus inspired this colorway.

Dyckia (The Homestead Hobbyist)
Photographs from Green Meadow Growers, Dyckia Brazil, bryan69 on GardenWeb, Chris Nguyen, and Fine Gardening



Dyckia is another genus that makes the little boy in me giggle. The plants themselves, though, steal my breath away. They are absolutely gorgeous, and dangerous—many species have jagged saw-like spikes on the edges of their leaves, which makes them almost impossible to repot without thick leather gloves. Dyckia is a bromeliad, like pineapple and Aechmea fasciata. There are many bromeliads that are epiphytic (they grow in trees), but Dyckia is a terrestrial bromeliad, like Cryptanthus (another of my favorite bromeliad genuses).

The variety of leaf color, primarily from Dyckia fosteriana cultivars and hybrids, inspired this colorway.

Stargazer Lily (HipStrings)
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons



This is totally a sappy love story about how Stargazer Lilies are Nik and my “thing,” about how when he proposed, he named a star “Neustro Amor,” how he asked me to look into the sky to find our star, and gave me my engagement ring as my “star.” As you can guess, Stargazer Lilies hold a special place in my heart.

For this colorway, I used a dye technique to layer the same color over itself, resulting in a tonal colorway with lots of depth.

Lithops sp. (HipStrings)
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons



In the undergraduate lab I worked in, I remember my advisor giving instructions on how to take care of the various plants in his office before he left for a trip. A collector of “odd” plants, among his collection was a pot that contained what seemed to be uniquely colored river rocks. I was surprised to find out they were little succulents that had very cool camouflage.

This colorway is low immersion vat dyed, which means it will be a little different with every batch, with lots of variegation and different combinations of color as the colors mix—a wide variety of greens and browns, just like the Lithops.

Nymphaea cearulea (HipStrings)
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons



One of my early graduate career missions was to figure out which waterlily had the smallest genome (and would be best to use as a model for genetic studies for one of the earliest branches of flowering plants). Well, the waterlily with the smallest genome is Nympheae cearulea aka Egyptian Blue Lotus. It also happens to be difficult to get a hold of because of its hallucinogenic properties. (For a while I was convinced that my advisor was only sending me on exploratory missions to find out more about hallucinogenic plants ... after the blue lotus I was sent to do research on Papaveraceae, home of Opium poppy.)

This colorway is a four color gradient going from bright yellow, to sky blue, light teal, and then light amethyst.


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Samples of the colorways will be released on Tuesday (August 23), and you’ll be able to pre-order your favorite colorways then!

HipStrings will be offering up a custom set of Bitty Batts inspired by your favorite plant as a prize for the spinalong.

The Homestead Hobbyist will be offering an eco-printed silk scarf as a prize for the spinalong.

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Getting Ready for Spring Festivals

I moved (again), this time to Seattle. Boss-man decided to shut down the company and laid everyone off, so I thought, what the heck? I'm getting outta here. I have very few plants now; I'm trying to keep the collection to a more reasonable level.

After I moved here last month, I got offered a spot to vend at Maryland Sheep & Wool. I wasn't planning on doing a show so soon after my move--I wanted to find a day job, but since I accepted the spot at MDSW, I have to spend basically all day every day getting ready, since I'm starting from scratch after selling off all of my fiber to help pay for the move. I'm trying to dye at least a few pounds every day; if I do, I should be ready for the two shows I'm vending at.

If you're in Virginia or Maryland, come visit me!

Powhatan's Festival of Fiber, Powhatan, VA, April 30

Maryland Sheep & Wool, Howard County Fairgrounds, MD, May 7-8


I have a target for hand-dyed braids, and I need some accountability to reach it, so I'll be updating this post and the progress meter below every once in a while as I continue dyeing.


Update: 1 April 2021

A little behind where I wanted to be; this week was full of non-dyeing-related activities (a spinalong I'm providing fiber for, contract work, and I'm going away for the weekend), but I made a little progress. Next week, I should have a bit more time to dedicate to dyeing.

Update: 12 April 2021

Still pretty far behind. I keep having contract work eating up my time; for example, all of today and tomorrow will be spent on one project, no time for anything else. Yesterday was eaten up entirely by labeling and shipping spinalong fiber. But I think I'll be ready for the show. I still have a week and a half of dyeing left, and as long as I have three or four good days of dyeing, I should have plenty of braids!

Update: 25 April 2021

A bit behind, still. Contract work. Godsdamn. And I have 200 braids that aren't fully dry, prepped, or packaged; and most of the Savage Blends haven't been weighed. I have plenty of work ahead of me for the trip.

Update: 17 May 2021

The festivals have come and gone, and I'm back in Seattle! The drive across the country and back wasn't as horrible as I feared it would be, but it was certainly long (4 days straight of driving each way). But I really enjoyed the festivals, and I can't wait for next spring!

I had plenty of hand-dyed and blended fiber for sale. I could have gone with a little less, in fact, but I am happy I had the variety of fiber I had. Next year, I want to have a lot of colorways, but fewer overall and larger quantities on the same bases (at least a pound to a pound and a half for each base, dyed on multiple bases). I have plenty of time to plan my approach for next year. I'm definitely looking forward to it!

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Homestead Hobbyist Fiber Review

I've been dyeing fiber for six months now, and I have enjoyed every last minute of it. Some of my favourites? Well, here's a photobomb:

Darkness on my new Polwarth/Yak/Mulberry Silk 50/25/25 custom blend

Midnight

Deep Sea Squid on Yak/Silk 50/50

Yak/Silk

Golden Harvest on Baby Camel/Silk 50/50

Golden Harvest

Toxic Waste on Falkland

Toxic Waste

Midnight Garnet on Rambouillet

Midnight Garnet

Which turns into this when spun

Midnight Garnet

Japanese Maple in October on Merino

Japanese Maple In October

I've really been enjoying some of the yarn and knit/crocheted objects folks have shared in my Ravelry group, too. (You have to sign up/in for the link to work.)

And this week, Stephanie of the Hot Pink Socks Reviews blog is reviewing some of my hand-dyed fiber! I dyed a colourway called Silver Pops for her on Falkland wool and sent her two braids--one for her to play with, one for her to give away to her readers.

Silver Pops on Falkland



If you'd like to read Stephanie's review (part 1 of 2), head over to her blog. In both her review post and in her Ravelry group, you can enter the drawing to win one of the above braids! You just have to follow her blog or join her Ravelry group, and then leave a comment sharing what your favourite colourway I've dyed is. I'm encouraging folks to check out my sold items, not just the items for sale, since I dye mostly unique items and many of the sold items are quite stunning (if I do say so myself!).

It's interesting to see what folks say they like--I'm surprised that people like Toxic Waste (see above) as much as they do, because I think it's pretty daring for most folks (yellow seems to be a pretty intimidating colour, but I'm learning to love it!). If you have a Ravelry account or are willing to sign up for one, you can see how the above braid spun up and was turned into a cowl!

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Manly Lace Mitts

In March, I partook of a spinalong. We all received the same fiber--two 100-gram braids of Haunui Halfbred (one dyed, one natural grey) and about 50 grams of dyed mohair locks. I decided to take some of the undyed fiber and dye it a deep red, because I wanted to make a crepe yarn with some colour contrast.

Here is the yarn:
Lake Sumner crepe yarn
March spinalong closeup

I've always wanted to find a manly lace pattern to knit, as well--but they don't really exist. There are a few scarves, perhaps, but few other articles of clothing can be described as both "lace" and "manly."

So I wrote my own pattern and knit some mitts.
Manly Lace Mitts
Manly Lace Mitts

For those who are interested in knitting a set for yourselves, here's the pattern:

Size 10 US needles

Worsted- or aran-weight yarn (the handspun yarn I used to develop this pattern had 8 wpi). I end up with 2.5 stitches per inch (10.25 inches with the full 26 stitches).

  • If using worsted- or aran-weight yarn and your swatch matches the measurement I made (10 stitches and 22 rows in pattern = about 4 inches square—well, rhombus; the fabric will lean to the right or left, depending on whether you use k2tog or SSK in your swatch) but you want to adjust the width for a smaller or larger forearm, reduce or increase CO stitches by increments of two. If you reduce or increase the number of stitches by 4, reduce or increase the number of pattern repeats before the thumb gusset pattern to 5 or 7; if you reduce or increase by 8 (for children or grizzly bears perhaps), reduce or increase the number of pattern repeats before the thumb gusset pattern to 4 or 8. For smaller thumbs, knit only the first three thumb gusset pattern increase. For larger thumbs (likely unnecessary, as this is a stretchy knit), knit an additional thumb gusset increase.
  • If you go with a heavier yarn, reduce the number of stitches by increments of two, consider increasing needle size, consider doing only the first three increases in the thumb gusset (rows 1 through 12), and adjust the number of repeats you knit in row 17 so that you’re ending at the end of the thumb gusset to knit the thumb.
  • If you go with a lighter yarn, increase the number of stitches by increments of two, consider additional pattern repeats for the thumb gusset (for every additional repeat in the thumb gusset, add an additional SSK, yo between the two k1, yo), and adjust the number of repeats you knit in row 17 so that you’re ending at the end of the thumb gusset to knit the thumb.

Before knitting, whether following the pattern or modifying it, please swatch first!

Purl all even rows unless otherwise noted. Some even rows are noted at the ends of sections because they’re important not to forget.

For right mitt:

CO 26 stitches using a stretchy cast-on, such as long-tail cast-on.

1st row: K all
3rd row: k1, *yo, k2tog* repeat between * until 1 stitch remains, k1
4th row: P all

Repeat 3rd and 4th row in pattern until you want to start the thumb gusset. 10 repeats should give you about 4 inches of fabric, which will be the part of the mitt on the wrist and below. If you want it longer or shorter, knit more or fewer repeats.

Thumb gusset for right mitt:

1st row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
3rd row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
5th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, SSK, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
7th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
9th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, SSK, yo, SSK, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
11th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
13th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 6 times, k1, yo, SSK, yo, SSK, yo, SSK, yo, k1, yo, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)

At this point, you’ve increased 8 stitches and should have 34 on your needles.

Thumb for right mitt:

15th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
17th row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * 11 times, turn, and cast on 1 stitch
18th row: p9, turn and cast on 1 stitch (10 stitches)

19th row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
21st row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
23rd row: k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1
24th row: P all

Bind off using a stretchy bindoff. I like to purl, yarn over, purl, slip two stiches over, yarn over, purl, slip two stitches over, etc. Seam thumb to base.

With right side facing forward, rejoin wool. Pick up 1 stitch from base of thumb, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1. 26 stitches remain.

Continue in k1, *SSK, yo* until 1 stitch remains, k1 pattern until mitt is length desired, then P ws and stretchy bindoff, then seam the side using the two edge stockinette stitches. Weave in ends.



For left mitt:

CO 26 stitches using a stretchy cast-on, such as long-tail cast-on.

1st row: K all
3rd row: k1, *SSK, yo* repeat between * until 1 stitch remains, k1
4th row: P all

Repeat 3rd and 4th row in pattern until you want to start the thumb gusset. 10 repeats should give you about 4 inches of fabric, which will be the part of the mitt on the wrist and below. If you want it longer or shorter, knit more or fewer repeats.

Thumb gusset for left mitt:

1st row: k1, *yo, k2tog* repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
3rd row: k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1
5th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
7th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1
9th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)
11th row: k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1
13th row: k1, * yo, k2tog* repeat between * 6 times, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, * yo, k2tog * until 1 stitch remains, k1 (increase of 2)

At this point, you’ve increased 8 stitches and should have 34 on your needles.

Thumb for left mitt:

15th row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
17th row: k1, *yo, k2tog* repeat between * 11 times, turn, and cast on 1 stitch
18th row: p9, turn and cast on 1 stitch (10 stitches)

19th row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
21st row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
23rd row: k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1
24th row: P all

Bind off using a stretchy bindoff. I like to purl, yarn over, purl, slip two stiches over, yarn over, purl, slip two stitches over, etc. Seam thumb to base.

With right side facing forward, rejoin wool. Pick up 1 stitch from base of thumb, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1. 26 stitches remain.

Continue in k1, *yo, k2tog* until 1 stitch remains, k1 pattern until mitt is length desired, then P ws and stretchy bindoff, then seam the side using the two edge stockinette stitches. Weave in ends.

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Reminders Of Spring

It's been raining almost daily for the past several weeks, and although the temperatures are in the mid-80s to mid-90s every day, it feels like it's still spring--which is nice, because I feel like calendar-spring disappeared way too quickly for my liking.

So, what have I been up to that's kept me away from blogging for so long?

In September, I got a new full-time job (no more freelance reporting/part-time contract work! Although, feel free to check out the Agritate label to read what I wrote on a blog I started to focus on science and journalism--I imported most of those posts into this blog, and will likely continue reading articles and writing about them here when I start blogging again. I mean, I've been saving dozens of them to review and write about in the past several months, I've just never gotten around to it.). My start date at the new job coincided with the culmination of DC State Fair 2012, a regional plant show I was participating in, and a book proposal I was putting together. A month and a half later, I got a car.

DC State Fair went off really well, despite a few glitches.

IMG_5011
We got T-shirts last year! I'm here with chef Alli Sosna, who judged several of the vegetable and fruit contests.

I won a blue ribbon in the Novice class at the plant show.

Gloxinella lindeniana at Mid-Atlantic Regional Gesneriad Show, Sale, and Symposium
My Gloxinella lindeniana won me a blue ribbon at the first-ever Mid-Atlantic Regional Gesneriad Show, Sale, and Symposium.

I was also offered a contract for the book proposal, but realized all the time I currently don't have and decided to turn it down (I don't have a picture for that).

The car is great for weekend errands--but it also opens up a lot more possibility for weekend travel, to visit nearby family or just to get out of the city for a while. That takes a surprising chunk of time when we do get out and about.


My beau shot this photo, our first of the car, because our first-ever load was a bale of hay to use as mulch in the garden plot.

I've made my goal for 2013 to cut back on volunteering and other projects by the end of the year. That means I'm working to hand off DC State Fair to new leaders, refraining from taking on more leadership roles, and in general focusing on my own hobbies and life. It's been nice, but almost more difficult than volunteering all the time was!

Since making that my resolution over the winter, I've filled my time with new hobbies for some reason. I learned how to spin yarn, on supported spindles, drop spindles, and a wheel. You may have read about the yarn I made from my cotton and the silkworms I raised. But it's not like I stopped there.

Cleaning a Raw Fleece
I've purchased and washed three raw fleeces. This is the first, from a Finnsheep named Beatrice, laying out to dry after washing.

"Tuscan Sunset" Handspun Yarn
I've spun what I consider to be a lot of yarn. This, for example, is 465 yards of merino/yak 50/50 dyed in "Tuscan Sunset" colours--yellow-oranges, pink, purple, and red. It was a random-contest freebie, and a beautiful yarn. So beautiful, I had to knit a shawl with it (because what else do you do with such fine yarn?).

Grouchy Geisha at Sunset Shawl
From start to finish, this took me two weeks. I am addicted to knitting lace, now.

My First Dyed Braid
I've tried my hand at dyeing fiber myself (and learned a hell of a lot from that one botched job--one of the lessons being that even botched jobs can be beautiful when spun).


This is the start of spinning of my hand-dyed fiber. The colours are less muted than I thought they would be based on my inexperienced dyeing and the white patches that show through everywhere. It'll certainly be an interesting yarn when I'm through!

Textile Museum Celebration of Textiles
I participated in the Textile Museum's Celebration of Textiles in the spinners' area, where I helped kids learn how to spin with supported spindles and drop spindles. Plus, I got a few yards of cotton spun up on my tahkli!

But it's not like fiber arts have been the only thing I've been up to. I'm still all plant-oriented, too.

P5195660
I started a cotton trial plot at Wangari Gardens this year, to measure the fiber staple length of the 7 varieties stocked by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This photo is from a few weeks ago, when the cotton first germinated.

P6166179
I've been struggling to keep up with my community garden plot, where weeds dominate and my Concord grapes are fruiting.

P5265894
I went to several plant swaps this year.

P5185613
I've been to Al's Orchid Greenhouse a bunch of times, helping to spread epiphytic and other gesneriads throughout. This is a unifoliate Streptocarpus growing in moss on a cinderblock that holds up a display surface.

I've been busy. It's been a fun several months, but I feel like my blogging should be closer to the front burner than it is. (Right now, it feels more like it's cooled off and stuck in the fridge, not even on the back burner!) I keep delaying blogging because I no longer have time during my commute (I like to knit, and when I'm not knitting, I'm driving because I have to move the car for weekly street sweeping) and I want to revamp the look and feel of the blog. So it just sits here, languishing. But I'm making more of an effort to plan and write; for example, I kept telling myself I wanted to feature each and every one of the above in their own blog posts, as well as other events and topics. But let's be honest--I'll never find time to do all of it the way I want it to be, so snippets it is, and now I can move forward!

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Homemade Silk


I'm raising silkworm (Bombyx mori) so I can reel silk and make my own silk thread, perhaps to ply with other fibers I plan to spin. Growing silkworm is surprisingly approachable--let the tiny eggs hatch in their petri dish, put them in a plastic tub with some added heat, and feed them rehydrated powdered silkworm food until they get big enough to make cocoons!

Bottom of the plant shelf
At the bottom of the plant shelf, the two 34-quart plastic tubs on the bottom hold my silkworms. They each have a seed-starting heat mat underneath to give the silkworms the extra warmth they'd like. The right two trays on the shelf above have vegetable seedlings for this year's garden, also with heat mats underneath. The left two trays have various gesneriads at various stages of propagation.

Luckily the silkworm don't need light like the plants do. There's plenty of competition already for the space I have available under the lights.

Silkworms (Bombyx mori) caterpillars, dried food remains, and poo
The caterpillars, dried food remains, and poo. Silkworms poo a lot. You can see the seed-starting heat mat through the bottom of the plastic tub (the black and green thing).

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A closeup.

P3144862
Silkworms and cocoons in the corner.

Silkworm (Bombyx mori) cocoon
A single cocoon in the plastic tub handle area. So white and pure! I wonder whether I should dye the silk, and with what? The woad I grew and processed last year?

I'll have to slowly bake the cocoons at a low temperature to prepare them for storage until I'm ready to reel the silk--reeling isn't something to start without a large stash of cocoons ready!

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Spinning Cotton

It has taken me a lot longer than projected to return to blogging. But I've missed sharing my adventures in gardening and other hobbies, so I need to just jump back in and start blogging again. So let's start off with what I did with the cotton I grew last year!



I grew three Sea Island x brown NOID cotton plants from seed that I purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The plants themselves were damn pretty. This photo is from mid-summer.


The flowers are pink when they're new.


And turn white as they age.


The bolls start forming pretty quickly, but they take forever to mature. I harvested most of them while they were still immature, because of a cold snap in late September.

cotton seeds
Photo by --ki---
The ones that had ripened on the plant were given to my friend Ki, who took this photo of the seeds attached to the fiber outside of the boll. I think they look like mini peanut butter thumbprint cookies with chocolate chips on top.

Ki spun up a sample skein of yarn from those few bolls--and then taught me how to, as well. She gave me a tahkli spindle--a metal pin with a metal disc at the bottom and a small hook at the top. It spins very fast--all the better to add the twist needed to make yarn from short-staple fibers like cotton.


Photo by --ki---
Before I could spin all the cotton I harvested, it had to be processed. While at Al's Orchid Greenhouse, Ki, Al, and I plucked the fiber from the bolls, removed all the seeds, and carded the cotton to align the fibers and make it fluffier, so it would be easier to spin.


Photo by dacmanj
After I spun it into a very long single strand over the course of a few weeks, I started unwinding the cotton from the tahkli onto my hand in a plying bracelet. It's one way to make a two-ply yarn from only a single strand of spun fiber.

Spun Cotton
After plying, I boiled the cotton with some soda ash to finish it and clean off the plant's waxy coating, in case I'd like to dye it at any point. Probably not, because after processing, the cotton became a deeper, complex brown.

My first-ever skein of yarn is only 45 yards--enough to make a doily, perhaps. But it opened a door to many more hobbies and projects--like the cotton trial I'm doing for Southern Exposure to grow all seven of their cotton varieties and measure the plants' average fiber length. I am doing this project at Wangari Gardens and hope to hold a few educational workshops throughout the summer.

I've also been in touch with a natural-colour cotton breeder, from whom I hope to obtain seed for cotton shades other than white, brown, and green.

In the meantime, I'm spinning wool, knitting a few sweaters, growing silkworms to make silk, helping out in DC State Fair's fourth year, participating in food swaps, and making wine--in other words, plenty of adventures to share in the coming weeks!

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