hand spinners seed cotton
hand spinners seed cotton
Spin your cotton right off of the seed. Offered are some special off white Pima cottons ( Pima S7 or S5) and some of my naturally colored lines. Sold by the half ounce, the Pima and the "Noble" are my favorites to spin. But the "Sienna's" color is just so captivating that even though the fiber is not as long or as strong as "Noble" and Pima, the amazing color makes up for a lot. Tans are the result of a brown or a red crossed with a long white cotton. They tend to be very easy to spin, and have some beautiful soft colors not achievable by blending brown or red with the white.
Historical white cotton seed lines are sold by the gram which is approximately one locule- or section- of the cotton boll. My favorite to grow in 2015 was Giza 45. It had a beautiful presence at 6 ft with it's flashy red main stem and branches along with it's large yellow hibiscus type flowers and dark green leaves. The lint was so fine, strong and silky that it was an absolute thrill to spin. The other Giza lines look more like Pima's with a shorter more rounded plant structure. The pure Sea Islands are quite perennial like in structure- large and everblooming sporting very small bolls that have the silkiest and longest of any cottons grown. I am out of pure Sea island, but I now offer Mit Affifi bred in 1903 in Egypt from Sea Island cotton. it has a beautiful long white lint, but an earlier growing habit. Smooth seeds as well.
Here are some notes that describe a bit of the history of these varieties and seed lines:
“Noble" is a descendent of my “Buffalo” brown variety that was a descendent of a cross between a brown colored ancestor of “Coyote” brown (Gossypium hirsutum or upland cotton) and Pima S5 (the Pima released in the early 1980’s) made in 1985. The original single plant selection plant that bred true and became the ancestor of all of the plants in the variety that I later named “Buffalo” was a magnificent specimen who stood out for it’s great presence in form and fiber that I made in 1988 (as an F3). It possessed very long for brown (remember everyone had always proclaimed said that it was impossible to improve the length of brown cotton without diluting it’s color) fibre, that had both strength and luster- all characteristics of the G. barbadense- that Giza 45 shows off quite nicely. It was the first variety whose fibre could be spun into a 30/1 at 100% color- no need to blend with any white cotton. “Noble" was selected from the “Buffalo” variety for it’s ornamental appeal. I wanted a line that a home gardener would enjoy growing for both flowers, deeply colored green leaves, robust pest resistant plant and thoroughly enjoyable to hand spin fibre.
"Sienna": In 1985 I grew a single plant that was given to me by a famous hand spinner. This plant grew to 7 ft in height and only flowered when the hours of light and dark were equal- the first flowering was on September 21- well after all normal cotton bloomed. I crossed that flower with the last of blooming browns and green cottons that I had in my breeding program and began to develop this line that I call "Sienna". In a few years time thanks to making thousands of individual plant selections and about 4500 additional cross pollinations and selections and growing up many more thousands of plant plots, I finally had in 1995 plants that flowered during the normal growing season whose growing habits would allow for the machine picking of the cotton for a farmer in a temperate zone. The fibre improvement was still to be tackled, however. This fantastic ochre color had a huge issue, though to still be figured out in addition to fibre spinnability. The color crocked and stained white cotton during laundering and it washed out inconsistently. So, of the 300+ individual breeding plants that I had selected and picked for growing out the next year in 1995 I handspun and plied with white cotton a bit of cotton from each selected plant. I then boiled each one, one by one and observed if any of them did not stain the white cotton, and if any of the red color intensified (as I do with all of my other cottons). Out of over 300 hundred individual plants there was only one whose color did not stain the white and whose color intensified. And that one is the ancestor of all of the "Sienna" breeding lines that I am working on today. "Sienna" is from a lovely plot of plants who are quite handsome for G. hirsutum (upland) cotton. Generally the G. hirsutum, although being prolific producers, lack the beauty of the G. barbadense. The G. hirsutum flower is rather plain and the flower a good half the size of G. barbadense’s. But these "Sienna’s" sort of make up for this by their incredibly colored bolls. The fiber in these lines still needs to be improved in length and strength to make them suitable for commercial spinners, and enjoyable for hand spinner's . But in the meantime, I think that they hold a place in one’s garden for their stunning beauty in dried flower arrangements.
The tans are descendants of crosses between various "Sienna" and brown and even green breeding lines crossed with fantastic white cotton lines such as Sea Island, Pima and Egyptian cottons. Each is different and each can throw dark and or white offspring. The ratio will be roughly 1 white /2 tan/1 intense color (brown or red). They are a pure mystery. And I enjoy spinning them very very much.
The last photo is from Kori Farrel's handwoven piece using Coyote 10/2 as the warp and handspun and boiled "Sienna" along with "Noble" and Mixed Seed cotton.