Two mini skeins of handspun naturally colored cotton rest on a concrete background next to two wooden bobbins.

Spinning Cotton Punis

While at Carolina Fiber Fest back in March, I picked up a few new-to-me fibers and preparations to try spinning. The first was naturally-colored cotton punis from my friend Caitlin at Stoneyhaw Fiber & Things. I had spun cotton/ hemp sliver before, but hadn’t spun cotton from punis. I purchased one small package of natural brown cotton and one package of natural green.

Two small packages of naturally-colored cotton punis rest on a table next to a
Cotton punis and mohair roving from Stoneyhaw Fiber.

I decided to use my Alden Amos wheel for the project. Although it also has a Scotch tension setup, it has a tilt-tension double-drive that is perfect for longdraw spinning of fine fibers, and I leave it set up that way. The tension is so easy to adjust I almost wish all my wheels had double-drive now.

I spun the punis on the higher ratio, which I estimate to be about 14:1, using a supported longdraw. I set the tension for a very light uptake, adjusting it as I went until I was happy with it. After drawing out the singles, I added about 5-6 treadles of additional twist before winding on. The biggest issue I had was with my joins – I found it easier to do more of a worsted join with the cotton (holding the new fiber perpendicular to the singles until it catches) rather than a more woolen join (laying the new fiber over the old).

I spun the brown cotton first and, as is usually the case when trying new things, by the time I moved on to the green my spinning was more consistent. I was pretty pleased with the result.

Close up on two mini skeins of naturally colored cotton yarn

The end result

I ended up with approximately 35 yds of the brown at a grist of approximately 4961 yards per pound and 42 yds of green, with a grist of 6804 yards per pound. The brown came out at around 32 wpi.

I’d like to use these skeins in a weaving project along with a white commercial yarn – I don’t think they’ll hold up as warp, but should be fine for adding some weft stripes. I probably could have added more ply twist.

Have you spun cotton punis? What was your experience? I’d love to hear your tips for next time!

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