Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wooden Spools

After admiring the clever and decorative use of wooden spools at Threads of the Past living history center in San Diego Old Town State Historic Park, I decided to gather up my empty (and almost empty) wooden spools with the idea of doing something creative.  I have been collecting them for some time, putting them aside for a future use.  Thread has not come on wooden spools for quite a while; they were styrofoam briefly and now are plastic of various shapes and sizes.

After locating my spools, I decided to look in my mother's thread box to see what she might have.  After she passed away in 2012, I organized her sewing supplies a little but have not really incorporated them into my own supplies.  Somehow, hers need to stay separate for a while longer.

She kept her thread in an old fruit cake tin.  I loved looking through her sewing things as a child.  I opened the tin, and indeed she had many wooden spools of thread.  Some of them only had a small amount of thread, and I wound it off.  Most of this was polyester and I did not regret throwing it away.  Several of her spools still had plenty of cotton thread, and I left these alone.

A few of the spools had thread on them that was obviously re-wound by hand.  In fact, a couple had one color wound on one end of the spool, and one color on the other end.  There was also a folded piece of cardboard that was wound with thread.  Thrifty.

I came across her cloth tape measure, which I used to chew on as a child.  I chewed on it so much that the marked measurements are barely visible in some places.  I have a vague memory of stuffing this entire object into my mouth, the cloth crisp and cottony to the taste.

I also found a token at the bottom of the thread box.  After a little online research, I found that it dates to the 1940s.  Someone punched a hole in it and probably wore it; the Lord's Prayer is on the other side.

I don't know the story behind this item.  My mother lived in New Jersey during the 1940s, before my parents were married.  Of all the times I have rooted around in this thread box over my lifetime, I never noticed this object.   I think this shows a jalopy driving off a pier, with the surf shown below it.

Here is the collection of wooden spools that I accumulated.  Notice that one is green.  One, the most spool-looking one of all, is actually for dental floss.  I guess you cut a length of it with scissors.  The small, flat ones held silk buttonhole thread.

The ones that still have a lot of thread on them went on display in the living room with some industrial thread bobbins.  I could comment on how the price of thread has increased over time; some of the large spools are marked 39 cents (my computer keyboard doesn't even have a "cents" symbol).

I don't know what I will do with these, but I had fun looking for them and revisiting my mother's sewing box.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cotton Harvest

I have been harvesting cotton for a couple of months now, but with the shorter days the bolls have been ripening more slowly.  This tells me that day length is more important to cotton formation than temperature, since here in San Diego we are still having daytime highs into the 80s.  I have not picked anything for about a month, but there are plenty of bolls still on my plants.

This is my harvest so far, with the standard sized coffee mug for scale.  The cotton is Acala with smooth black seeds.  It will be white after I scour and wash it.  I have not ginned any yet, but I have fluffed it up a little to make sure there is no moisture.  I have about 12 - 14 of these plants.  I cut them back in the winter to encourage branching and new growth.  They are in a raised bed. 

Brown Cotton Boll

I only have one brown cotton plant, but it produces well.  The fiber is relatively short, and it has fuzzy seeds.  This plant is in a large pot set apart from the white cotton.

People ask what I do with the cotton.  I spin it, then weave and knit with it.  Sometimes I dye the yarn with indigo.

This is a small shawl that I knit in a lace pattern with some of my cotton.  The nice thing about a piece dyed with indigo is that when it starts to fade a bit from wearing outside you can just re-dip it in the next indigo vat.