Eli Whitney Is My Hero

One gallon zip-lock bag of field cotton, one pair of hands, and FIVE HOURS = very little to show for all that time. And I haven’t even finished!

My original idea was to take some of the cotton from the Homestead and spin up enough to knit something small – a bookmark or snowflake – so folks could see how nice cotton feels and show something made totally “from the land” like they did in the 19th century. I wanted to time this little project so I could explain to the kids who come on field trips how long it takes to make something without using modern machinery. Well, that was the plan. Originally, I had thought I would spin the cotton directly from the seeds; however, I tend to end up with sewing thread when I do that and I really wanted a laceweight or fingering weight yarn. So the next step was to take out the seeds so I could card the cotton and spin from a rolag or puni. So far it has taken five hours of pulling seeds and I still have about half of the zip-lock bag to do.

On the positive side, this very time-consuming method of taking the seeds out of the cotton has left me with pure, white, fluffy stuff. It looks just like a bag of clean Cormo fleece – absolutely beautiful! Unlike commercially processed cotton roving, there are no little bits of leaves or seeds in my cotton; this will spin up to a pure white cotton yarn and I am thrilled. However, I don’t think I will be doing this as an ongoing process. I am all for the cotton gin idea. Okay, so I have to pick out a bit of leaf or seed – at least that won’t take me the length of time I have to spend pulling all the seeds out. Makes me appreciate even more Eli Whitney and his cotton gin. Eli rocks!

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1 Comment

  1. Theresa said,

    April 25, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I’m so glad I found you! I just started volunteering at the Agrirama, and have just set up our first (fiber) meeting at their historic village. You can be sure I’ll be checking out your site a lot!


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