From Seed to Skein

For the past three summers, I have taken to growing cotton in my backyard. The first year, I threw a handful of cotton seeds into a flowerpot, a la Jack and the Beanstalk, and waited to see if something happened. Well, five of those seeds sprouted and grew into my first cotton plants. It was exciting to see the plants growing up close. My only view of cotton plants had been zooming down the highway at 60 mph past fields of brown stalks ready for harvesting. I didn’t have a high yield crop that first year but I did harvest plenty of seeds for the next year.

My first attempt at growing cotton.
My first attempt at growing cotton.

The second year, I planted my seeds in various flower beds around the yard. Some plants didn’t make it but the ones that did yielded about 4 ounces of cotton fibers.

Cotton in the flower bed. An open flower and green cotton boll.
Cotton in the flower bed.
An open flower and green cotton boll.

When 2013 rolled around, I decided to plant all my seeds in flower pots. That way I could avoid the damage done to the seedlings by critters in the flower beds. I put three seedlings each in seven flower pots for a total of 21 plants. My crop grew well that summer and I added 5.8 ounces to my previous harvest.

 

Cotton plants in pots on the deck.
Cotton plants in pots on the deck.

 

My two-year cotton harvest.
After spending a lot of time picking out the seeds...
I spent a lot of time picking out the seeds…
...and carding the cotton ...
…and carding the cotton …
...into lengths of roving...
…into lengths of roving.
The finished pile of carded cotton.
The finished pile of carded cotton.

I was ready to start spinning. I had plenty of practice spinning wool but cotton was a different and much shorter fiber. It took some practice to get going and I felt like I was back in remedial spinning class but I managed to get the hang of it.

 

My first attempt at spinning cotton.  Not too uniform!
My first attempt at spinning cotton. Not too uniform!

Now 9.8 ounces of cotton doesn’t sound like much but that fluffy fiber goes a long way. I was able to spin 3 skeins of double ply cotton yarn totaling over 600 yards in length.

The finished product!
The finished product!

Now I just have to decide what to make with this very special handmade yarn.

 

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