Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Spinning Cotton With Joan Ruane February 2014

Mid-February brought a Studio 66 workshop - cotton spinning taught by Joan Ruane.  Joan is a superstar of the spinning world and one of the kindest and most gracious teachers I've had the privilege to study with.   I would take any of her classes in a heartbeat.

 Time passes...

Darn it!  It's been nearly a year since I started this entry and now I've forgotten so much of what happened at this workshop.

So to make a long story short - we had a great time dyeing cotton, carding, making punis and spinning them.  We also had a chance to spin several different preparations of cotton and other bast fibers - flax, ramie, and hemp.

Photo highlights of our days with Joan...

Our first day was spent dyeing cotton lint in various colors and using several different dyeing techniques.

First, we worked in groups to dye pieces of cotton lint in a few different colors.  Cotton pre-soaked, dyes prepped, cotton dropped in hot dyepots a bit at a time, allowed to soak up the dye, strained, rinsed, and left in the sun to dry.

We also space-dyed a fair amount of cotton roving.  

 Still trying to get over my fear of colors, I used several different colors, including yellows and oranges from outside of my comfort zone.  I was surprised that the color on the wet cotton (on newspaper below) was still quite vivid when rinsed and dried (on wood floor).

Next, Joan showed us how to combine colors and card cotton into a puni (a rolled up piece of carded fiber).    

These are some of the colors we used.
Joan discusses ergonomics while carding.

My first punis were made with natural, turquoise (one of my favorites), and a bit of the dreaded yellow.

 Here are the results of my first day:  A stack of various colored punis plus a length of space-dyed roving ready to spin, and a fair amount of cotton fiber I didn't get around to carding.  (Nearly one year later, I think this is still in my UFO stash).

Then we got to the actual spinning part.  Having spun mostly wool, cotton was quite a change.  But I enjoyed it.  My favorite of the fibers we spun was flax.   Joan demonstrated dressing and spinning from a distaff.  We tried spinning with the bundle of flax line wrapped in a towel, and also with the ends tucked into our belts.  Fun way to spin, but since I dislike linen, I don't think I'll be spinning any flax.

 Here, Joan demonstrates her technique for spinning a fine cotton thread.
And Wendy already has the technique down.

   My first try at spinning cotton - spun, plyed, and skeined.

Joan gave a demonstration of the book charkha.  As much as I love gadgets, watching the demo was enough to convince me this is one I won't be needing.

And Joan gave a demo of winding off the spun cotton using a yarn meter to count the yardage.  A cool gadget but probably another one I won't be getting.

(Quick, somebody check my temperature - I must be sick!)

For inspiration, Joan show us a number of skeins of her yarn and finished products.  Here are some of my favorites:

And who can resist beautiful wood products?  Joan brought quite a few items to sell, including these beautiful supported spindle bowls.  I love the laminated ones. Another thing goes on my list of woodturning projects to try.