Friday, March 1, 2013

Pima Cotton

Last time I posted, I said I would do the Pima Cotton part later. I was waiting to see if it made it through the winter. Sometimes, cotton plants will winter over and start up again the the spring- like a head start over the other new seeds. I had decided to let the Pima Cotton go for it. And IT MADE IT THROUGH!
How do I know? Well, there are lots of new leaves and a flower. Already, a flower.
I have been cleaning out another area to start some brown cotton seeds and some green cotton seeds. These will be the shorter plants and will make their bolls in the summer. But the Pima, tall and stately, is going for the tree status. 8 feet tall and going on.
Well, back to the analysis of the cotton adventure.
I managed to gather about 90 grams of Pima cotton after removing the seeds. I have about a 1/2 pound (200 grams) of seeds from the different plants. The Pima seeds are easy to identify because they are naked- no fuzz. The colored cotton seeds can pretty much be identified by the color of the fuzz that sticks to them.
So there we are- my little plot- grew enough cotton to make a thong panty, for a small person. I actually could make a wash cloth, or a thin dish towel. 90 grams is around 3 ounces before spinning. There may be a bit of loss in the carding, but most of it will end up as thread/yarn. Knitting will use more, because it is thicker fabric, but weaving has loom waste. Hmmm. What to do?
I could just spin this up and wait for the next season's crop. Then I could have a full size under pant or possibly a t-shirt of some sort. I could use some other cotton I have to make a few stripes and have some all natural colored item.
I didn't use any chemical insecticides or fertilizers- just  regular nitrogen and compost. The water was about what a person would use on a lawn. In the winter, I didn't water it at all. So, Organic and home grown, and natural colors.  I need to do the math now. How many feet wide is an acre? How many plants could be sustained in this manner on an acre? How many grams of cotton from one acre? How many t-shirts? Is this a reasonable thing for a home spinner to do - grow your own little cotton forest? Is there enough fiber to make it worth while and usable?
Like growing silk worms- what I have learned is that as a spinner, I am terribly spoiled. As a consumer even more so. My 8 week silk worm experiment yielded 260 cocoons which will yield one ounce of silk. My year long garden plot of cotton will yield 3 ounces of cotton. We use much more than that every day in our clothing, household products, and craft fun. I spin several pounds of fiber every year to knit and weave. It would take me several acres of land, a sheep, 4 generations of silk worms just to keep my hobby going. Socks and sweaters would be my reward-  but I would still need to buy ready made clothing, like pants and shirts. And what about those towels? That is an acre in one towel.
It makes me humble when I realize how little my plot can do, and at the same time, I am proud to have done it. I just love knowing how it all happens and being a part of it, no matter how small the part is.

No comments: