Cotton, like sheep wool, was bred to be white for the same reason as wool- to be able to reliably dye the fiber a rainbow of colors in textile production. It is also bred to be long stapled. Cottons such as Pima and Acala have long fiber lengths of around 1 ½- 2 inches. Natural color cotton fiber length is shorter than it’s commercially bred cousins. The darker the natural color, the shorter the fiber length. Where Pima and Acala are shiny and slick, colorgrown cottons are incredibly soft and billowy and range from medium to matte shine. It does not fade. With repeated washings in hot water, the color deepens.
So how is it to spin? If you asked me today I would say an utter pain. I haven’t spun cotton in awhile so I’m not used to the short draw I have to use to spin it. I also have to keep my hands closer to the orifice (the round part the yarn goes through to the bobbin). After a skein or two, I’m fine. Cotton takes practice. If you’re a beginning cotton spinner, it will take time to get the hang of it- it’s a completely different feel and technique than wool. Colorgrown cotton roving is a good place to start because the fiber is fluffy and sticks together better than slick Pima. Start with a lighter color such as tan or khaki. The red brown has really short staple length, so much that I won’t spin that color anymore.
My only regular qualm about spinning cotton is the lint gets everywhere. The fibers get stuck on my hands, clothes, whatever furniture is near the carpet. Be prepared not to touch your nose when you're sneezing, otherwise cotton lint will get in your nose.
Below is a sampling of my handspun colorgrown cottons yarns.