Cotton is the most widely used natural clothing fibre in the world, so it figures that the WoolOvers collection is absolutely brimming with it!

Cultivated since the dawn of agriculture, it’s the most profitable non-food crop in the world, and there are an estimated 100 million households worldwide directly involved in the cotton industry.

Aside from the massive number of people this fibre clothes and employs, it’s both sustainable and waste-free, with the seeds used as animal feed and pressed into oil that’s a common ingredient in food and skin products.

Seeing as it’s so popular amongst WoolOvers customers (and everyone else it seems!) why not read on and learn more about this amazing all-rounder of a fibre…

Where Does Cotton Come From?

The best climates for cotton are places that tend to have long, hot summers; in 2017, the three biggest producers were China, India, and the US.

Cotton is a natural fibre harvested from a number of plants in the Gossypium family. There are 43 known species of these cotton plants, but only five are widely cultivated for sale. The name Gossypium comes from the Arabic term “Goz”, literally “a soft substance”. As the plant grows, its round boll containing the actual fibre begins to form. Eventually, the boll will burst open and dry out. A typical boll will contain about half a million fibres of raw, white cotton.

This ‘lint’, as it’s called, is a little dirty and rough around the edges when it first emerges from a boll, but after processing, it will become the soft, breathable fabric that’s used in so many of your favourite clothes.

Types of Cotton

Whether it’s clothing, bed sheets, or anything else, the cotton products you own are made of two main commercial species.

ELS (extra-long-staple) cotton is softer and considered more luxurious than upland cotton. Often called Pima or Egyptian cotton, the long fibres make it distinctly soft on the skin, yet highly durable at the same time. Once processed, ELS cotton is soft to the touch, and more resistant to wrinkles, pilling, fading, and tears.

Upland cotton is the most common type of commercial cotton, made with relatively short fibres and used in the majority of everyday cotton products. It makes up more than 90% of the cotton grown in the US, where it first rose to popularity as a solution to the unfamiliar agricultural conditions in the uplands of Georgia (hence the name).