By far the most challenging undertaking I've attempted in spinning is cotton on a supported spindle called a "tahkli". Since today is the day we are to attempt something challenging for Tour de Fleece I chose to dig out the tahkli and the cotton sliver I bought last summer. I remember feeling that I'd reached the point of understanding this little spindle and had managed to spin enough 2-ply cotton to start knitting with it.
I did not get much time at it today... just finished at midnight after about 45 minutes. It took me half that time to get reacquainted with the spindle and technique--to rediscover all it's challenges. It can be enormously frustrating at first. It took me a while to figure out letting the twist grab the fibers from the sliver at it's own pace. All I need do is keep the tahkli moving at a reasonable--but not too fast yet--pace, while moving my right hand which is holding the sliver, away--but not too fast--but not too slow. It's all got to be within a certain range of movement and speed. Then extra twist can be brought in. Once experienced, the technique can build on itself through repetition. The other tip I learned is to spin the tahkli near the tip of the shaft, otherwise I loose complete control of the spindle. After about 20 minutes this evening I had reached the point of getting reasonably reliable draws again.
I like this video on YouTube which shows the process -- with all it's difficulties: Spinning Cotton on a Takli Support Spindle
It's not a fast process. Someday I'd love to try a Charka--a small portable spinning wheel for cotton promoted by Ghandi.
Here's my tahkli with the little bowl in which the point sits while it's spins, a sliver, a small ball of 2-ply which was done last summer and some knitting with the 2-ply. Now that the spindle has been taken out for a spin I think I'll keep plugging away at it... who knows, maybe I'll become proficient?
A little closer view (I can't get very good macro photos with my camera):