How to Spin Cotton Balls

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Things You'll Need

  • One bag of cotton balls

  • Two wire hair brushes

  • One pencil

  • Rubber bands

  • Two old CDs or DVDs (no longer wanted)

Two cards (brushes) and a spindle with the finished product wrapped around a knitting needle.

Spin your own yarn from cotton balls. Impress your friends and develop a new skill and the independence that comes with it. These principles are used to make cotton but can apply to any type of fiber that is suitable for spinning. Later, you may even try your hand at dying the cotton so that the yarn is completely customized.


Step 1

Open the bag of cotton. Remove the balls a handful at a time. Place the balls between two brushes and brush the bristles against each other with the cotton balls in between. This is called "carding" the cotton.

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Step 2

Look at the fibers of the cotton. As you brush, the fibers will begin to straighten and the handful of cotton will begin to elongate. Add more cotton balls as they start to form a single, long, fluffy wad that is the width of the brushes. Continue to brush the fibers until they are going in (more or less) the same direction.


Step 3

Prepare the cotton for the spindle. Take the tip of the finished wad in your hands, and twist it up as you pull on it. This should make the start of the yarn. Make this piece 9 inches long.

Step 4

Make the spindle. Put nine rubber bands around the pencil in a single bunch, doubling over the rubber bands several times to make the bunch as large as possible and still secured to the pencil. Slip this bunch to the bottom third of the pencil. Slide the two CDs/DVDs onto the wad of rubber bands. If the wad is not big enough, add more rubber bands.


Step 5

Put the cotton on the spindle. Tie the very tip that you twisted of the large and diffuse cotton wad onto the pencil on the short side of the CDs/DVDs. Run the cotton strand up around the edge of the disk and to the far end of the pencil. Just above the pencil, grab the strand and twist it into a loop. Slip the loop onto the pencil.


Step 6

Spin the pencil with the lower end in a bowl or just hanging in the air. This should be done to help you as you simultaneously stretch out the cotton and twist the fibers together. The fibers will then form yarn. As the strand starts to look satisfactory to you, you can unhook the loop from the end of the spindle and wind up the yarn that you made, twisting another loop at the top of the new yarn to spin the spindle and repeat the process.


Dog brushes have also been used to card cotton and other fibers. This works well for some people, though they can wear out quickly. Do not spread the fibers too thin or else the yarn may be too thin. Make a consistent yarn by doing a uniform rate of twisting and pulling on the strand. If you reach the end of your cotton wad, another wad can be grafted to the end of the first when the yarn is spun by teasing out and twisting the fibers together.


Beware of the spindle if your pencil is sharp.


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