Why I love to Spin Cotton by Irene Schmoller

Posted by Jessica Ybarra on

Cotton excites me!

It excites all my senses. I love the smell of it fresh out of the field. I love how soft and cozy it feels next to my skin. I love how clean and crisp it looks in my weavings. I love that I live in South Eastern Arizona’s Gila Valley, surrounded by cotton!

I love everything about cotton!

spinning cotton

I love how practical it is from the sheets I sleep on each night, to the absorbent bath towels I rely on in the morning, to the jeans I pull on day after day, to the table cloths I set a dinner party table with, to the socks that keep me warm in winter and the t-shirts that cool me off in summer. I love everything about cotton!

It’s not always been that way!

spinning wheel

Yet, it hasn’t always been that way. When I first started spinning, and then weaving in 1973, I only spun and wove from the abundant source of wool I had at my disposal. A good friend had a sheep farm and each spring when I helped with the shearing in the hills of Arkansas’ Ozark mountains, I came rambling home in my little Honda CRX stuffed with a bounty of fleeces.

I carefully skirted each fleece and once soaked and washed in my bathtub, gingerly separated the locks and hand combed them to fill a handmade willow basket to overflowing. I spun and spun and spun wool for hours, days, and months. I loved my wool and would never think of spinning anything else.

cotton spinning

My Love Affair with Cotton

Then by chance, I took Olive & Harry Linder’s three day, pre-Convergence 1978 workshop, Handspinning Cotton. My love affair with cotton began the moment I sat down at my wheel and had my first taste of spinning this beautiful, white, clean, smooth and gentle fiber. I immediately left my wool spinning skills behind and learned to conform to cotton’s needs for spinning it. I was hooked, so to say.

No looking back!

The Linders inspired me to start Cotton Clouds, when I realized there was a need for a mail order source of cotton spinning fibers. Back then, the only cotton available to handspinners was the matted and clumped sheets of cotton you could peel off a 500 pound bale from the cotton gin.

Today’s better fiber choices.

The #1 key to successful cotton spinning is to start with quality, long-staple cotton that has been prepared so that it’s fibers are loose and lofty to twist into a yarn. We’ve searched the world to find you the easiest to spin cotton fibers. Our Easy-to-Spin® Cotton Sliver now comes in long-staple, creamy-white Pima, white-white Acala (great for dying), plus Brown, Cinnamon and Green Slivers. These are all Earth-Friendly grown with minimal chemicals to be kind to you and to the planet.

Each fall I go to our local cotton gins and source the cleanest and longest staple ginned (seeds removed) Pima Cotton lint that you can card yourself into punis or rolags . Click HERE for complete listing of all our quality Cotton Spinning Fibers, Books, Videos, Kits and more! 

My personal favorite!

Yet, I have to say that my all-time favorite fiber preparation are our organically grown, long staple Punis from India. They are absolutely the easiest to spin, especially on our US Made Takli supported, brass whorl spindle. If you want an inexpensive way to learn to spin cotton, start with our Easy-to-Spin Puni & Takli Kit. We include step-by-step instructions.

My personal cotton spinning tips!

Is cotton difficult to spin? Well, that depends. If you were learning to spin back in the late ’70’s when I was, then yes. That’s when all the spinning books were telling us that cotton wasn’t easy to spin. Some of those books are still instilling doubts about spinning cotton. Don’t you believe it!
With quality cotton fibers and expert advice you will be spinning this new luxury fiber with ease! We guarantee your success.

With quality cotton fibers and expert advice you will be spinning this new luxury fiber with ease!  

cotton fibers


Everything you need for spinning success!

Over the past 40+ years of spinning cotton, I’ve come to learn not only from my own spinning but from talking with our hundreds of cotton spinners that quality fibers that have been prepared to highlight their best qualities is key to successful cotton spinning. Like anything else, with practice and some failures, you will gradually gain confidence spinning cotton.
Why not give it a try! We make it so easy! Click HERE for a listing of our wide selection of cotton fibers developed exclusively for you, our cotton spinner!

Have fun spinning cotton!

Irene Laughing Cloud

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