Preparing and Spinning Plant Fibres: Cotton and Flax. June 2018

This six week workshop was led by Carol Leonard and Andrew Johnson and started with different types of cotton, methods of preparing it and spinning on spindles, wheels and Charkas and continued with flax and other long fibres.

To begin at the beginning, Katy Barrett (from the Channel Isles) reminded us what a cotton seedling looked like.

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Marianne Mezger (from Kanton Aargau, Switzerland) shared a picture of freshly harvested cotton bolls from Tanzania

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Katy was gifted some Egyptian cotton and used a 50p coin to demonstrate the short staple length.

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Cotton comes in different forms. Here Teresa LaLana (V de la Canada, Spain) shows puni carded from an organic cotton brick.

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Ann Littlewood (South Yorkshire) showed her first attempt at spinning from an Egyptian sliver using a Michael Williams spindle.

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Frankie Owens (Norfolk) spun cotton singles on her Little Gem

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Chris Jordan (from Cheshire) and Gretchen Roth (UK) are spinning cotton using an attache case charkha.

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After cotton, the workshop moved on to work with flax.

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Marianne sent us a picture of flax flowers in bloom alongside handspun, indigo dyed linen hanks.

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Here Marianne has shown flax skeins, tow, a plied hank and singles

A number of special wheels for spinning flax were shared. This little flax wheel was bought by Ann at a French flea market for €20 – it still works.

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Ineke v.d. Heijden (Overijssel, The Netherlands) is demonstrating flax spun from a distaff using a spindle.

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Gretchen's flax spinning produced "Hairy String", and there was much discussion about the cause of this.

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Finally – this inspirational table cloth and lace was made by Andrew Johnson, one of the tutors (Pembrokeshire, S Wales). The fabric is woven with 2 S and 2 Z spun singles to try and cut down the creasing.