How to Grow Your Own Cotton and Make Your Own Yarn

2 Materials
6 Months
Growing cotton is a fun way to learn or teach kids where fiber comes from. It's amazing to see the little cotton balls growing on the plant and so cool to see the process of making it into something. The cotton plants themselves are gorgeous too.
I started by ordering seeds to grow with the kids. Click here to order some. afflnk
I was surprised to see how the seeds looked when we opened them. They are pretty big, so they are easy for kids to handle.

The little seeds sprouted and grew quickly. To see how to plant them, check out the blog post listed below.
The beautiful plants love the heat and grow well in warmer climates. They have a fairly long growing season.
The pods form with cotton inside. When they are ripe, the pods pop open and a little cotton ball is inside.
The next thing you do is pull the balls of cotton out and collect them all. Be careful because the pods are hard and sharp and can cut your cuticles if you don't harvest carefully.
My kids LOVE growing in the garden. Cotton was really fun for us.
Next you have to get the cotton ginned or you can comb the seeds out with cotton cards. You can get them here. Near where I live, I can go to Oklahoma State University and get my cotton ginned for free. Cards are expensive, but it's a fun way for kids to see it.
Then you can pull and spin your combed cotton into yarn. You can use a drop spindle a spinning wheel, or do it by hand. We just made a little piece so the kids could see how it turns into fiber that can be woven into fabric like their t-shirts.
Here's what a drop spindle looks like, this one has some angora fiber on it. It would take some practice to get the hang of drop spinning, but people do it.
When I was a kid, my mom had a spinning wheel that we could spin cotton on. It's all fun to learn about.
This is some pretty rudimentary yarn we made, but you get the idea. It would be fun to work at it to make really pretty yarn and dye it. This was great for learning. Maybe we can do some more another time.
You could crochet, weave or knit this yarn. What fun!
Resources for this project:
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Little Sprouts Learning
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  • Deak Deak on Apr 19, 2018

    My daughter is doing a project with cotton. Do you know of a way to naturally dye the cotton? We would love to try a couple of different colors for her Ag project.

  • Deak Deak on Apr 27, 2018

    Wonderful story! Do you know of a way to naturally dye this cotton in various colors?

  • Diane Hamilton Hinkle Diane Hamilton Hinkle on Apr 27, 2019

    A few years ago I wanted just a few seeds to grow a few plants mostly from curiosity. I live in Tennessee and was told I could not buy seeds or grow cotton for fun. It is illegal. Don’t know if that is still true or not. Anyone know?

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