Friday, June 27, 2008

amidst all the trouble and chaos of this week, there were some highlights. i was finally able to get enough money to buy my new cotton carders, i sent out and received my june fiber of the month swap package, and just today, the yarn i bought for my super top secret creativity 350 project FINALLY arrived!

i had been scouring the net looking for some good cotton spinning resources, there were some sites that lightly touched on preparing cotton, but nothing that i found particularly helpful. but, i persisted in my search *over a couple of days*, and i finally two sites that were extremely helpful!! the first is actually a blog that i already read called spinning spider jenny. not only does she talk alot about hand carding short fibers *including cotton* but she has posts on making punis, and LOADS of posts about techniques for spinning, preparing fibers, finishing your handspun and pretty much anything you can think of! i would suggest doing a search of her blog to find the topics you're looking for, because her posts are pretty long, and going through everything manually is pretty daunting *take my word for it!!!*

the other site i found was founded by joan ruane, who calls herself "the cotton spinner". and she worked hard for that moniker, too, being the master mind of the informational dvd/vhs: "cotton spinning made easy". her entire website is devoted to cotton, and i find this to be the most informative site i've found yet. she goes into many aspects of cotton such as; carding cotton, making punis, dyeing cotton, spinning cotton on a wheel and on a takli (support spindle), and even a little primer on planting cotton and caring for the plants. if you're interested in spcotton fibers, this is the website i would suggest you go to, it's the most comprehensive that i've been able to find, and by supplementing this site with a little info from the spinning spider blog, you can get most of the knowledge you need to start practising!

so, after doing all that research while waiting for my new hand carders *can you tell how freakin excited i am!?* what was the first thing i did when i got them?!?! try them out, of course! i grabbed my big, one pound bag of ginned cotton from cotton clouds and my puni stick *otherwise known as a dowel rod measuring around 1/4 arpund. i got mine at a spinning supply store, but these are literally the exact dowels you can get from a home improvement store, just make sure they're a little longer than the width of your carders to roll the punis and that they are sanded absolutely smooth*

now, i'm not the best at hand carding *which is why i got rid of my wool carders in the first place! i would've liked to have one set for wool and one for cotton, but i wasn't convinced i could, and would, use both sets!* my first bit of carding and the resulting puni went exceedingly well! i wasn't nervous or thinking about all the info download i had done *because my brain was already goo at this point!*, i was just there, in the moment, carding. and i was surprised at how well i did.... at least at first, until my brain came back and i started over-analyzing every move i made! the hand cards are wider than they looked on the internet, but it turns out to be a pretty perfect size for making punis. i'm not sure if that helps in the carding process, but it's nice to have a tool that is made specifically for excelling at one task. and so, i continued carding, and have amassed a nice little supply of punis:

success! and there's my puni stick

i'm hoping with a little more practice i'll keep getting better. i think i'm just too anal *if you can remember the post in which i mentioned my obssessive compulsive drum carding!* i'm okay with loading the hand card, but once i make the first pass, the top of the loaded fiber pulls the middle layer, kind of folding the fibers over the teeth of my stationary carder. and that happens with every pass, which i then try to brush out, and anyone who's a proficient hand carder knows that more carding only makes more and more neps! but i've never seen anyone hand carding in person, so i'm not sure exactly how it's supposed to look and no amount of internet searching can even compare to seeing it done in person! oh well, my punis look fine and although i haven't spun any yet, i'm thinking it will be fine.

since the cotton carding update was so long, i'll try to keep the fiber of the month update short and sweet! i sent my partner 4 ounces of hand dyed *by me* BFL and 2 batts of merino/corriedale with sari silk (didn't have time to weigh them) which went out on monday *and of course i forgot to take pics!!! my partner is supposed to email them, so i'll post them if she does!* and i got my fiber in yesterday!! my partner is new to spinning and this was her first fiber of the month swap!!! i was very glad to have been paired up with her for her first time, she was very nice and easy-going!! she sent also 4 ounces of hand dyed wool top *though i'm not sure of the breed* it's really one of my favorite color schemes, beachy blues and sand colors :O and i think this was her first time with acid dyes too!!! she did a really amazing job!

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