cotton, Spinning

God Provides: from His hands to mines

Living in an industrial age our surroundings can cause us to forget where things actually come from. Most of everything we need is purchased from a retail marketplace. Rarely do we pause to consider where it all actually comes from. Yesterday I finished spinning up my 2018 cotton crop. The entire experience of watching the seemingly dead seed spring into life and grow into this luxurious fiber is a pleasant reminder of how God provides us with what we need. He is an incredible engineer and a true miracle worker. Just watch.

This year I sowed the seed outside in early May.  I had a small amount of green seed to add to my tiny 4X8 plot along with my usual brown and white. Last year the green cotton that I planted didn’t do so well. I only had about 20 seeds to begin with and some greedy rodent had most of my seedlings for lunch. Thankfully enough survived to provide me with seed for this year.

I committed my usual gardening crime of planting all the colors in the same plot with no labels. I still had 3 distinct colors come up. The white cotton had the most yield (about twice as much as colored cotton plants) and longest staple length. (The seed comes from a commercial grower). The green has a soft almost silky quality to it. I planted an ornamental red variety too which has pretty red foliage but does not yield as much fiber as the commercially cultivated variety.

red ornamental cotton yields white fiber
Plants pulled up in early October

I had to pull up the plants in early October because we started to get a lot of cold rain and I had a few bolls rot. I cut the bolls off the stems and place them in front of the fireplace to dry.

My nephew took on the task of plucking the cotton from the bolls as they opened over the course of about 2 weeks. Some of the seed was immature but the cotton fiber seemed to be fairly sound.

Compare mature brown cotton seed to lighter colored immature seed
Nephew sorting and opening the bolls as they open
It took about 2 weeks of drying for the bolls to finish opening indoors

So how much cotton did I get?

Brown- 54grams/ 1 7/8 ounces

Green- 58g/ 2 ounces

White- 108 grams/ 3 3/4 ounces

The cotton was processed with my fine 120tpi hand cards and spun on my Lendrum spinning wheel using the fast flyer. I find that using this flyer is more efficient and less cumbersome than using the very fast flyer with its tiny bobbins and finicky orifice.

I think I want to use this cotton to weave supplementary warp patterned inkle bands.

In addition to the cotton, I also tried growing Indigo for dye again this year. It was a flop again. I think the location gets too much sun. Luckily I managed to get a few seeds to try again this year.

Struggling Indigo dye plants

In this coming year I am granting myself the time to fully experience what it means to craft with raw materials daily. I am no stranger to the benefits of using raw materials to make things. For me, it is a truly spiritual process. It is my connection to God, my power source. I am taking the year 2019 off from teaching to craft. I can only wonder what will come of this time. I guess we’ll just wait an see.

3 thoughts on “God Provides: from His hands to mines”

  1. Just discovered your blog. Love your cotton growing story. I weave and spin (in Tennessee) and hope to someday master spinning cotton, which has so far eluded me. For now I spin wool and dog-hair! Looking forward to more posts.

  2. I just discovered your blog. I read your article on hand ginning cotton. You really inspire me! I hand ginned cotton last spring and I’ve started spinning it. My next adventure is to grow some cotton. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    1. I’m glad you stopped by. I hope you enjoy spinning cotton. You’re going to really love spinning homegrown. Nothing compares really, except cashmere. It’s so pristine and lofty. Best of luck on your journey.

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