Slow Fiber

A few years ago, a colleague gave me a huge bag of “raw cotton”, that she got from someone who probably picked it up as leftovers from machine-harvested cotton. The machines leave a lot behind when they go through the fields.

I said I’d take it because my favorite thing to spin is cotton. I knew that it needed to be de-seeded and then carded before it could be spun. No problem.

Well, a few years have gone by and I revisited the bag. I’ve used it in demonstrations to show what cotton looks like after it’s machine-harvested but before it’s processed. So, for the last couple of days, I’ve been sitting taking the seeds (it’s called “hairy-seeded cotton because the seeds do not easily come away from the fiber) out in small batches and then carding it into “punis” (like little cigars) to spin.

I don’t mind doing this work because I can do it while I watch TV or videos. And let me say that the fiber is beautiful.

It is so soft. It’s going to be beautiful to spin. There’s more chaff in it where the machines have broken up the bolls, but a lot of that will fall out as I make the punis

and even more will come out when I spin it. But there’s definitely something special about the way it feels when the fibers are all full length and haven’t been chopped up, compressed and steamed in the commercial processing steps.

So it’s “slow fiber” for me for now.

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