The Pill-Bottle Cotton Project

I’m not one to shy away from a fiber challenge. Cotton is thought to be a challenge to spin. Cotton from pill bottles, because it is so linty and short-stapled, is thought to be nearly impossible to spin.

Herewith I submit evidence to the contrary: I started with a pretty good sized bag of cotton that we’d been saving from pill bottles over the years (vitamin bottles, mostly). I didn’t weigh it, but there was enough to mostly fill a gallon zip bag. I carded the cotton with my fine hand cards (top left) and rolled the carded cotton into punis (top middle). I carded all of the cotton I had available before I started spinning and filled up a plastic salad mix container with punis, ready to spin.

I spun the cotton on my Sonata wheel with the fast flyer in place, using the smallest whorl and ensuring that the smaller end of the bobbin was facing the break band at the back of the flyer to get the most speed out of the set-up. I set the break with the least amount of take-up I could get away with, and plunged into spinning. I spun using a mix of long draw and supported long draw.

I spun two full bobbins before I ran out of punis. Some of the cotton I plied with a merino/silk single spun supported long draw. I had previously dyed the wool fiber with Queen Anne’s Lace, turning it a pale yellow color. I spun half of the braid that I’d dyed, leaving the other half for another project. The wool single was plied with two cotton singles, giving me a finished yardage of 252 yards of light DK weight yarn that’s light as air: just 72.5 grams for the skein. (Bottom left.)

The remaining cotton I plied with the remaining pale green linen from another project and a third single comprised of pearl fiber, and later, when that ran out, the remaining 3-ply cotton that I happened to have on a weaving bobbin. 104 yards of fingering weight yarn to play with.

The moral of the story? Save up your pill bottle cotton – you never know when it might come in handy for a really unusual spinning project!

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