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Ozark Lady
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Plants for spinning the fibers

I have a new hobby. This is a very new hobby, I just took my first spinning class and got my first charka and hand spindle last Sunday. A charka is a type of spinning wheel, it is small and it is specifically made for short fibers like cotton.

I am raising angora rabbits for the fibers for spinning. You don't have to kill the rabbit to use their fur! I am just starting with the rabbits and with all the brushing them etc.
I also got a few cotton seeds and would like to grow them. I got some cotton bolls with the seeds still in them, I think I will also attempt to sprout some of those. I was even given some green cotton bolls with the seeds in them. I live in Arkansas, but far from cotton country.
I was looking at you tube videos on spinning and came across: flax and spinning it, I did the research and realized it is the same as food grade flax, and when I checked my seeds on hand, I had ordered flax for 2013 for the seed-heads. I am sure there is likely some selectively bred for spinning.

I have seen rayon on clothing tags, I had no idea that rayon is derived from bamboo! wow! interesting!

And then I came across soysilk... a fiber derived from the stalk of soybeans, very interesting.

You can even order silk worm cocoons online for spinning into silk. Apparently the worm is still alive inside it, because it tells you how to go about killing the worm!

Learning to spin is opening up a whole new world of possibilities.
Does anyone here spin or grow their own fibers for spinning?

I need input! :lol:

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rainbowgardener
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Never have, but what a wonderful new project! :)

I have seen clothes made from hemp fiber. Seems like another fiber you could grow.

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Ozark Lady
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At the spinning class hemp was discussed.
I was under the impression that hemp is illegal to grow... don't they get drugs from hemp plants?
But apparently hemp is great for spinning if it is legal to grow.

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My daughter attended a summer camp last year at a working farm where they taught her how to take goat hair and weave it. She's a pretty talented kid for an eight year old, I'm quite proud of her.

cynthia_h
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Congratulations on learning to spin! It is unfortunately illegal to grow hemp in the United States, even though the THC content is vanishingly small in the fibrous variety--the one good for spinning. But! Hemp roving is available from The Woolery as well as from individual vendors on Etsy.com. Here's the page from The Woolery offering their hemp roving. (Probably grown in Canada, where it's legal.) The Woolery also offers linen for spinning, in a few forms: tow and strick for sure, maybe others.

I just found out a couple of weeks ago that sisal, used traditionally in making rope and other cordage, comes from the agave plant. Amazing, at least to me.

But I have so much wool here, all breed-specific b/c the yarns aren't generally available in the U.S.--or weren't, when I was looking February last year--that I may never make it to plant fibers. :lol: I had a list of the breeds whose fiber or roving I had acquired, and it was somewhere around two dozen last time I looked. :shock:

If you decide to spin cotton, may I recommend Cotton Clouds, specialists in--what else?--cotton. The linked page contains offers to sell the interested spinner cotton in every possible form, from bolls to sliver to roving. (The other pages of Cotton Clouds's website offers yarns from mostly cotton, but some other plant sources, too.)

It's kind of magic/wonderful/amazing, seeing yarn--or at least a singles--come out of messy fiber, isn't it? :)

Cynthia H.
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!potatoes!
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it may be a coarser fiber than you're after, but I've been growing egyptian spinach as a warm-weather green. also known as 'jute spinach'...the fibers have been used a looong time for cordage, not sure how well it would work for other applications.

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applestar
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In fiber crops section of bountiful gardens, I came across "kenaf -- hibiscus cannabinus (related to jute)". The description said it requires 4-5 months growing season, so I didn't think It would be worth it for me to try.

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Ozark Lady
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Thanks for the links Cynthia. I have been watching a lot of videos on You-tube since acquiring the Angoras and setting up the appointment to learn to spin.

Hey, I want to experiment. I already thought of fibrous thread that would be too coarse for clothing use. I also like to macramé so I could use jute like fibers and simply make my own cording.

I keep thinking of the silk worms and how they eat mulberry leaves. I have a tent caterpillar problem, think of all that web. I wonder if it is possible to spin that into something, perhaps a lace? That would serve two purposes: an interesting thing to try spinning, and tough on those caterpillars!

Hey, what is that fairy tale where the girl spun straw into gold... Rumplestiltskin! I wonder? :lol:

Even my Great Pyrenees/ Australian Shepherd cross dog is getting looked at for fibers!

I have been looking at some of the sites offering rovings and even green fibers for carding. I got a set of carding tools last Tuesday.
I found dye on sale for $.25 per box and bought one of each color, I think that dying the fibers will also be fun.

I have a tiny 4" weaving loom that I am also playing with at the moment. It is a real loom, not one that uses those loops.
And I found plans to build a larger one.

I have read that some tree bark can be peeled and used as cordage, I need to review some of those videos with spinning in mind, or even weaving a rough mat for the front entry.

I am still amazed in spinning how I go from fluff to thread! Unfortunately mine is still rather lumpy and not even... learning curve here.

Susan W
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OL, I was going to warn you to STOP NOW!!!!!!! but, you have gone over to the dark side. Sigh!
My strong suit is natural dyeing (and weaving). I haven't gotten into the spinning thinking there needs to be a self imposed limit. (but around spinners and the fibers)

As you probably have figured out by now, wool is the easiest to spin. It is also the easiest to dye. The bast fibers, (linen, hemp etc) more difficult. If you are growing your own, they are the hardest to prepare.

I suggest you grow some cotton. It is best started inside, and put out when soil warm, and it can even grow in a container. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has a nice selection of colored cotton seeds. I have odds and ends of brown cotton that I have grown, but can't tell you what strain or when grown. If you are interested in some to try, let me know.

OK, back to stirring the walnut dye pot and weaving a strap from henna dyed wool (is a light copper color).

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Ozark Lady
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I do plan to grow cotton.
I would love to get colored cotton seeds.
The bolls that I was given, the colored bolls are very small compared to the white cotton bolls, is that the norm? I read that the fiber length on colored cotton is shorter than on white cotton. That is one of the strengths of having a charka, made for cotton, it puts in a lot of spin.

Many places that sell cotton seed refuse to sell cotton seed to states that grow cotton commercially. I have been turned down repeatedly.
Finally, I requested cotton seeds from the government. They sent them along with a contract that I had to promise to destroy the entire crop should I get boll weevils in it, to help protect the commercial crops. So, I can get it from the government and not commercial, weird huh? I haven't asked Southern Exposure or not recently anyhow.

I live in the hills, not in farm country. My climate is great for cotton, my soil is junk for anything but hardwood forests and rocks, lots of rocks grow well here. I would have to drive about half a day to get to an area that grows cotton, so not close at all.

I think that some of the fibers, like flax would be very difficult to process, and others even worse than that. I am not attempting those until I figure out the easier ones.

For now, I will order fibers. Because I am preparing the rabbit area, haven't brought them home yet, but when I do, they have knots etc... will have to be sheared in patches at least, and allowed to regrow their hair. And a couple of them are just babies. The cotton I will need to grow. And the dog hair will have to wait for natural shedding. That said, it will be months before I am actually producing my own fibers.

And a bonus: the rabbit manure for my garden! And since the cotton will be organically grown, the plant will go in the compost pile! I bet that even the yucky lumps of hair that I remove to get the fibers growing nice, will be fine to compost. It should be protein for it. Slow to break down though I betcha.

cynthia_h
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Ozark Lady wrote:
Even my Great Pyrenees/ Australian Shepherd cross dog is getting looked at for fibers!
When you look at hand cards, you'll notice that they bear a striking resemblance to slicker (wire) brushes for dogs.... Yep, it is *possible* to prep fiber with two slicker brushes! But animal fiber is recommended for this treatment, not plant fiber. So...may I present a new search term for you: chiengora. Built from the French word for dog (le chien) and the term for rabbit hair/fur (angora), chiengora is yarn spun from dog hair/fur. I have a couple of very large ziploc bags of Bernerfur, some brushed off of Vesta and some from Wilson, awaiting an improvement in my skills.

I'll probably blend the Bernerfur with sheep wool at first for some crimp, but more experienced spinners tell me that it's possible to do 100% dog undercoat without blending it with wool or anything else.

And, just so Susan W and you will know how much Dark Side is possible :twisted:, let me share with you (and all who may be reading this) the knowledge of a two-million-member on-line association of fiber fanatics--people devoted to knitting, crocheting, spinning, dyeing, and weaving--Ravelry. Navigation is...ah...kind of overwhelming, so accept any and all help. It took me *months* to figure things out, b/c I didn't see the "Official tour" that was available and had to strike out for parts unknown. I use an alias over there, so you'll need to sleuth me out from clues. I am very low-profile there.

But I have learned TONS about fiber on Ravelry. Bought a few pounds of it, too.... :oops:

Cynthia

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Ozark Lady
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I do have a question.
How does one know how much fiber or roving to buy?

Let's pretend that I want to end up with 3 ply yarn... I know I have to spin the fiber, on 3 different spools. Then reverse spin it to ply it. I get that part.
But, let's say I want to end up with about 7 ounces would I start with 7 ounces of fiber? The weight shouldn't change should it?

At the rate I spin, it would take me a year to get 7 ounces... I know I will improve with practice. And fibers are expensive well over a dollar per ounce, making that 7 ounces cost a lot of money! Without my own fibers I wouldn't be able to afford to spin.

I have a friend, one of the spinning teachers who spun dog hair then made it into a scarf (I think), anyhow it is pure dog hair, not mixed. I heard it is soft and beautiful.

We were given baggies of various fibers to play with and learn to spin with.
And I have a couple bags of cotton on the bolls, to remove debris and then to either card it or spin it directly off the seeds, I saw that on you tube and it does work well. I might want to remove the seeds first if I decide to dye it and then spin it.

Although I do have goats, and plenty of acreage, I am not considering getting angora goats. They have to be sheared (?) and I hated it when I had to shear a Great Pyrenees, although the dog was patient, I was exhausted by the time I got him done. (long story) And since it was hot summertime, I was covered with hair, sweat, and slobbers... yuck, yuck and more yuck! I remember when my neighbors sheared their sheep and those sheep hollered like they were dying. At least the dog was licking me, not hollering.

A sweet gentle rabbit sitting on my lap while I brush them... that I can do, or a plant that does not slobber, holler or try to get away!

I had gotten dog flickers for carding, and was blessed with a large pair of real carders... how can I refuse a gift? I will just use the flickers on the rabbits to brush them and keep their hair tidy every week. I had also gotten a rake and a flea comb to get them done.

I may have to wash and dye fibers outside... I can just see getting the sink grease trap full of fibers that got away! My hubby used to be a plumber by profession, so he can fix it, but I don't want to make more work for him.

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I have a couple of very large ziploc bags of Bernerfur, some brushed off of Vesta and some from Wilson, awaiting an improvement in my skills.
How cool is that? What will you make with their fur?

All this is very interesting! Not quite enough to pull me in, thankfully :wink: as I have a different major project going right now. :roll: ...but I AM thinking "now WHERE did I put our carders (one pair of real carders and two pairs of dog and cat brushes)? I also DID mentally out a priority on growing cotton again this year. Hopefully my seeds are still viable. I had a nice mass of cotton -- probably about two 1 gallon bags full -- last time I grew cotton (brown and green) and my kids used them for stuffing handmade felt animals... and I lost my opportunity to try to spin them.

...well... Maybe I will start a germination test on those seeds today. :o

My kids want to start saving our cats' fur.... :shock:

Charlie MV
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I just glanced at this thread. Forgive my butting in in case this has been mentioned. Don't know if it applies elsewhere but in SC, cotton is grown only with strict controls and requires a permitting process.

I saw a discussion in the local paper and I vaguely remember that it has disease problems and other difficulties that make regulation necessary. My apologies if this is irrelevant to the discussion.

Susan W
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On growing cotton,... There are regulations by state, and even within states. Most if not all has to do with the boll weevils. In Tenn is county by county. I am in a large metro area, but the county still has farm land, and we are in the No Cotton (weevil eradication) zone. So, short and long of this is best to check for your area. I also have no idea how that brown cotton seed landed in a container on the back deck....

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Ozark Lady
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I mentioned above that I had a contract that I would destroy the crop if any boll weevil got into it. Okra is subject to the same boll weevil and it is not regulated.

I just googled it, and no boll weevils have been found in Arkansas since it was eradicated in 1978(?). And I found no other problem with cotton in Arkansas.

I did find a lot of regulations on Strawberries, Sweet potatoes, black berries, rice, and things like that, mostly about labeling and not importing from areas that have issues. Some counties were quarantined for this or that.. Mostly the regulations applied to nurseries and properly labeling the plants.
I found none quarantined from growing a few cotton plants.

There was a time when tobacco was not legal to grow without a permit too, those days are long passed and now tobacco can be grown anywhere for personal use! And I think it can even be sold commercially, no more monopoly by big tobacco.

It is the main economic crops that are the heaviest regulated, because they have the most to lose, makes sense.
This is not farmland, no commercial farm crops for hundreds of miles...
Here they are more likely to regulate: cows, and dairy things and forestry items.

I did go look, thanks for mentioning it... first time penalty is they take it away from you that is all, if non-commercial.
Are my Strawberries and Sweet potatoes illegal? Oh wow more questions now!

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lorax
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OL, have you investigated any of the long bast fibres? In your area you could be growing flax, for example (no restrictions there) but maybe the more interesting one would be Musa basjoo, which is a hardy fibre banana. You can get extraordinarily long fibres with textural properties similar to silk from the pseudostems.



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