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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tour de Fleece Preparation 2016

As this year's Tour de Fleece begins on 2nd July, and it's now 14th June, I thought it was high time I started preparing fibres for the event.

The team I belong to (Team DIY and Dye) on Ravelry, demands that all fibres are processed from scratch, i.e. from raw fleece - no ready-washed fleece, no combed top or pre-carded fibre - we have to do it all ourselves.  Also, everything (unless it's black fibre) must be dyed by us.  We're a colourful lot!

I have plenty of raw fleece ready and waiting to be dyed and prepared, but also I have a heap of home-grown cotton bolls that need to be prepared, so I thought that would be good to start with.  You can't get more DIY than home-grown cotton bolls!


These are white cotton bolls that I grew a couple of years ago, and they've been sitting around waiting for attention ever since.  Well, today I pulled the cotton from the husks and picked out all the bits of vegetation.  That left me with a nice pile of fluff but which still contained the seeds.


Ginning cotton (to remove the seeds) can be a bit of an arduous, time-consuming task, but I managed to get through a nice amount.  To do this I use a ceramic tile designed for outdoor use, therefore no slip and a bit of texture.  Each seed and it's surrounding cotton is placed on the tile and I use a wooden dowel to roll backwards and forwards on the cotton - that pushes the seed out quite cleanly.  As I say, it takes a bit of time when you're doing each seed separately, but I got into a nice rhythm with it and don't do so much in one go that I'm totally sick of it!  Here's the resulting fluff, and yes, it really is as soft as it looks.


Next step, carding on my magic new cotton carders!  This is easier than you'd think because the fibres seem to naturally want to become straight and parallel.  Making them into punis is then a simple matter of rolling the fibres around the same wooden dowel I used for ginning.


Maybe not the neatest punis I've ever seen, but I'm now looking forward to spinning them. Roll on TdF!  I may dye the finished cotton with natural dyes; I've never dyed cellulose fibres naturally before so that could be a challenge!

By the way, maybe you'd like to see the sienna cotton I spun last month after it had been boiled in soapy water to remove dirt and wax.  I'd read that coloured cotton darkens when it's boiled, and so it did.  I've put this at the end of the post so you can easily compare the colour with the fibres before they were processed.  Just scroll down to the next post and you'll see what I mean.


Edit : I've just scrolled down . . . and it really doesn't look much different.  I think it's the photo above that isn't showing the cotton as dark as it really is.  It's actually a much darker, redder brown.  Sorry - you'll just have to take my word for it!

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