Sunday, November 23, 2008


I'm in love with handspun cotton. I've been spinning cotton one and off for a few years now, and the sweater's I've knit from handspun cotton are some of my favorites. I've been looking at Foxfibre cotton for years now, and finally bought some a few months ago. I don't think as many people spin cotton as other fibers, so I offered to teach a cotton spinning class at my local shop.

To get ready for class, I pulled the Foxfibre out of my stash and started spinning for some colored washcloths. I had a very early version of the color "breeder's green," so when the roving looked more mustard yellow to me, I figured it just wasn't perfected yet. But then I remembered reading something about the color getting deeper with washing in hot water. I looked it up and discovered that it's a matter of boiling the cotton for an hour with something alkali, like washing soda. I boiled my finished skein in a gallon of water with 1/4 cup of washing soda and the results were amazing.

At the bottom of the picture is the original roving, at the top is a washcloth knit from the yarn after treating it. Look at the color difference! Now that's green! Man, better living through bio-chemistry. I wish I knew how and why that happened. I'll try to get my Dad the chemist on it. I got a little more foxfibre in two other colors to use in my class. I can't wait to see how much they change.

The story of how Foxfiber was created is fascinating. You can read about how Sally Fox crossbred wild brown cotton with domestic white cotton to create a sturdy viable colored cotton. She was even able to breed several different colors out from that original brown. And she grows all of it organically. I think I need to buy enough to make a dress.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why I Love My Work

The other day, I spent most of my work time online, first researching depression era feedsack dresses, and then at a motorcycle parts page, among other things. The best part is, I wasn't screwing around--that's what I was supposed to be doing! Both were research for "Grapes of Wrath" coming up in the fall. OK, so that explains feedsack dresses, but motorcycle parts? As you may recall, Rosasharn is pregnant throughout the book, so we'll need to make a pregnancy pad for the (hopefully not pregnant) student who plays that part. I like to use open cell air filter foam for padding, as it has a nice texture and memory, but more especially because it dries quickly after washing or sweating. The motorcycle place sells sheets of foam so that if you have a vintage bike you can't get new filters for, you can create one. I love the spirit of that all on it's own, and am giddy with the idea of further re purposing the foam for a pregger pad!