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Cotton

Pronunciation: (kot-n)

Cotton is a plant that produces fibers , which are used to make clothes and other products. Every part of the cotton plant can be used. But only the long cotton fibers are used to make cloth and yarns. Cotton is a subtropical plant that grows in many warm areas of the world. It started out as a plant of the tropics but today it is grown in other warm areas that have at least 200 frost-free days. The most important cotton-growing countries are the USA, China, India, Pakistan and Australia.

China produces about 30% of the world’s cotton, mostly in the eastern part of the country. In the United States cotton is grown in the southern states, the biggest cotton producer is Texas.

Cotton needs a hot, sunny climate to grow. The plant needs soil that is well drained and a lot of rainfall during the growing season. During the harvest season it should be sunny and dry. Some areas grow cotton on irrigated land. Cotton needs soil that has a lot of nitrogen in it. Farmers mostly use chemical fertilizers to improve the soil.

While the actual number is unknown, upwards of 75% of all cotton grown is now genetically modified (GMO) production. There is a great controversy regarding the safety of genetically modified plants. The GMO industry will tell you the science is settled and it's completely safe. But we can't help remember the days when the American Medical Association, thousands of doctors, and the tobacco industry all claimed the science was settled. That smoking was pure and natural and might even be healthy. So while we don't profess to know the answer regarding GMO products, it's a question worth considering.

When compared to wool, cotton is inelastic. This can be a problem for the knitter whose stitches are tight. The lack of elasticity also determines what kind of garments are practical for cotton yarn. Many knitters rely upon ribbing to provide elasticity in their garments. Since cotton ribbing is inelastic the knitter must take this into account.

However, cotton's lack of elasticity is a big plus when it comes to retaining its shape. Cotton does not stretch out of shape to the extent that wool and other natural fibers often do. Blocking a knitted garment made from cotton is not usually necessary.,

Cotton is stronger than the wool yarns. But fibers like silk and linen are stronger. When cotton gets wet it is slow to dry. Unlike wool is is not as effective at wicking moisture away. Where wool garments wick the moisture cotton retains the moisture and stay wet.

Unlike many wool varieties cotton yarns do not make for itchy garments. People who are allergic to wool also do not have problems wearing cotton.