Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Cotton - A different beast..

This weekend I felt relaxed enough to pick up some cotton fibres and try to spin them.  We spun a little bit of cotton in class.  The one time I tried at home, I was just a tad too tense, which made it ridiculously difficult.  Cotton requires a long draw as the fibres are so short.  Depending on the type of cotton the fibres range from 1/2 inch to 1.5 inches long.  This makes it a totally different experience from spinning wool.   I've found being relaxed is important.  The controlling hand with the puni or roving in it needs to be loose and barely holding the fibre.  I had to just let go and trust that the fibre would hold together.  Then you have to get the right amount of twist in it to hold together while you stretch out the slubs and fatter bits before you add more twist to keep it together.  The cotton requires an awful lot of twist to hold it together.     With the fleece festival this weekend, I wanted to decide whether I needed to purchase a Tahkli or not.  A tahkli is a tiny, weighted support spindle for spinning fine fibres.  However, I'm doing an adequate job with spinning cotton on the wheel, so I won't bother with one at this time.  The sample bits look much nicer and much thinner than they are in real life.  This is definitely not sewing thread as much as it looks like it in the photo.

My beets did miserably this summer but the grocery store had them on sale this past week for 5 lbs/ $1.25.  I couldn't pass up that bargain, so I purchased a bag.  After I got home, I put the entire bag into a large pot and boiled them up.  When they were getting close to done, I filled up the canner with water and put in 7 jars to warm up.   Then I made a sugar/vinegar/spice mixture and put it on to warm up as well.   As soon as the beets were soft, I took a few of them at a time out of the hot water and plunged them into ice water.  That way the peels just slip off without any effort.  Once all the beets were peeled, I sliced them up and popped them into the vinegar mixture and brought it all back to a boil and then simmered for about 15 minutes.  Then I strained out the whole spices and quickly took the hot jars out of the canner and filled them up with the hot spicey beet mixture.  A quick clean up of the rims, the lids put on  and then into the canner for 30 minutes of processing.   There are 7 jars of ruby red sweet pickled beets for those days when you need a taste of late summer and some pretty colour on your plate.   There are several variations of spicing  but I used cinnamon sticks, all-spice and cloves to go with the sweet vinegar rather than a savory brine.

Kevin looking surprised that he's caught while exploring the tiny basket.

Kevin trying to eat the little basket.  He's curled up right inside it!  I don't know how much longer he'll fit though.

Kevin tired out after a morning of terrorizing playing.   He does like to sleep close to people.  If someone is on the couch he'll stretch across their laps.  I had to transfer him here from being curled up in my arms as even a tiny kitty gets heavy after a while.  He didn't even wake up when I moved him.  When he realized I was elsewhere, he ran over to me and is now sleeping with his head resting on the keyboard.

1 comment:

Woolly Bits said...

he looks so cute in the basket - I always fall for pix like that:) it's when I remember how destructive kittens can be that reality sets in again:)
and the cotton looks good! I still haven't quite figured out how to use support spindles well, but on the wheel it's working fine...