Cotton issue cover image

What’s inside the Cotton issue?

The Spring 2016 “Cotton” issue is busy making its way to various destinations around the world. Whether you’re a subscriber waiting for your copy to arrive, or you’ve been thinking of subscribing and you’d like a preview before you buy, today’s post is here to give you a sneak peek inside the issue!


Cotton issue cover imageSo many spinners stick mainly to animal fibers for their spinning, and never really get a chance to try cotton. Others have tried it but for whatever reason it didn’t click. Still others love cotton so much that they sing its praises throughout the spinning world – and we’ve tried to bring that level of enthusiasm to this issue. Many, many thanks to Joan Ruane for helping to bring this issue to life and sharing her inspiring love of cotton with the rest of us. Let’s dig in!

Great Articles!

We’ve rounded up the a talented group of spinners and asked them to share their insights and experiments with us, and as always we’ve got a tip jar full of helpful hints from our readers, humor by Franklin Habit, and how to keep your spinning body happy by Carson Demers! Take a look at what you’ll get!:

  • Cotton: the Miracle Fiber, by Irene Laughing Cloud Schmoller  – Irene LOVES cotton, and it shows in her article which covers the history of the plant itself and its many uses in everyday life.
  • Cotton Lessons, by Stephenie Gaustad – Learn from Stephenie’s early “mistakes” with cotton spinning and you’ll be off on the right foot with her tips for how cotton begs to be spun.
  • Prep it! Dyeing Cotton Naturally, by Ric Rao – The photography alone will take your breath away with this article – who knew you could achieve such vibrant colors with dyes you picked or grew yourself? Venture into the world of natural dyeing with Ric; you won’t be sorry.
  • Prep it! Carding Cotton Lint and Making a Puni, by Joan Ruane – If you live near a cotton mill you can probably get cotton lint directly from them! Otherwise, we encourage you to buy some online and follow along with Joan as she shows you how to hand card and roll punis from this fiber.
  • Prep it! Blending Cotton, by Susan Sullivan Maynard – If working with cotton by itself isn’t your thing, this article is just what you need! There’s plenty of information and even a color-coded chart to help you blend cotton with other fibers to achieve the result you’re hoping for.
  • Charkha Tips and Tricks, by Eileen Hallman – Have you ever seen a Charkha in action? These adorable mini-spinning contraptions were literally made for spinning cotton, and Eileen’s got all the tips you need to start working with one today.
  • Spin it! Cotton on a wheel, by Joan Ruane –  If you’re a wheel spinner, you don’t have to change your whole methodology just to begin spinning cotton. Joan will guide you through the process of changing just a few things to make cotton work on your wheel, even if you’re accustomed to animal fibers.
  • Cotton Spindles from Around the World, by Kristin Merritt – Kristin wrote and illustrated the gorgeous spindles for this article, which is a fantastic comparison of spindles used for cotton. She also has an accompanying Spin It! article to help you learn to spin cotton on a spindle!
  • Hot Button: Boiling Cotton – Several experts sound off this issue on the issue of boiling cotton fibers for spinning.
  • Cotton Farming in New Mexico Prehistory, by Glenna Dean –  Glenna is an archeobotanist (someone who studies the growth and use of plants in historical times), and in this exploration she shows us how ancient people used land that most would think wasn’t suitable for farming at all to grow cotton.
  • Cotton Spinning and Sprang in the Pueblo Southwest, by Louie Garcia – A traditional Pueblo fiber artist, Louie takes us on a journey of Pueblo ancestry and their relationship to cotton fibers.
  • The Arizona Openwork (Tonto) Shirt Project, by Carol James – In 2013, Carol James met Joan Ruane and the two of them went to visit the historical Tonto shirt, an openwork garment dating back to the 13th century. Together, they hatched a plan to re-create that shirt. Follow along with their project in this article.
  • Cotton Spinning in Uganda, by Allen Nansubuga – Allen is one of the founders of Crochet4Life, an organization that empowers Ugandan women to bring in their own income through the production of handmade cotton goods. Read about his project in this issue!
  • Khadi: the Freedom Cloth, by Chitra Balasubramaniam – Khadi is a handspun, handwoven cloth that has come to represent India’s freedom from British rule. We think you’ll love the story Chitra weaves and her gorgeous photos of Khadi production in India.

CharkasFantastic Projects

In every issue of PLY, you’ll find a handful of projects for knitting, weaving, crocheting and more – along with instructions for how to best spin the yarns you’ll use in those projects. Here are the projects from the Winter issue:

  • Cotton Cactus Flower Shirt, by Jill Holbrook – Spin along and knit the perfect summer garment – a cotton tunic style shirt made using two different natural colors of this versatile fiber.
  • Weave with your First Handspun Cottons, by Patricia Santangelo – Try weaving with your first handspun cotton – yes, even that “beginner stuff” you think isn’t usable. You’ll be surprised what it teaches you! And who couldn’t use a few extra towels?

Everything Else!

Tip Jar will empower you to overcome your fears and get into spinning cotton. In Ergo Neo, Carson explains the best way to spin in a chair for comfort and bodily health. Who’s That Spinner? introduces us to Kay Toombs, who explains her cotton spinning history and how she learned to spin and weave with Multiple Sclerosis.  Scene is full of things on the spinning scene that you’ll want to know about including the upcoming Ply Away retreat, the 70-year anniversary of a Florida guild, and a symposium on flax and linen. Beth Smith offers a variety of pattern suggestions to get you to Use Your Yarn, even those first handspun cottons.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that right here on our website! And be sure to pick up a copy of this issue if you don’t already have one (or it isn’t on its way to you)!

4 replies
  1. Hana Brown
    Hana Brown says:

    The articles above are definitely – must read! Ric Rao is amazing for sure, the whole list is great! You have made a perfect research! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Karrie
    Karrie says:

    Mag has arrived and doesn’t disappoint. So much info. I can see this is a read more than once issue. Thank you.

  3. Laura harper
    Laura harper says:

    I’m tickled about this issue! I live in the desert southwest so the names and faces are all familiar to me. I can’t wait for it to arrive. And the portrait style photo of Joan Ruane is marvelous…it shows off her spirit!


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