Fibre Characteristics Deep Dive: Cotton (plus Linen and Hemp)

20 September 2023

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Cotton is everywhere in our lives. In fact, the cotton research and promotion organization Cotton Incorporated calls it “the fabric of our lives.” We wear it, we sleep on it, we use it to dry our dishes. It’s everywhere in crafting, too. Weavers love cotton; there’s cotton embroidery floss, crochet cotton, quilting cottons—fabrics, threads, and batting, and that ubiquitous “dishcloth” cotton yarn. Cotton is as versatile for crafting as it is in the rest of our lives.

Cotton is the seed fluff (also called seed hairs) of plants in the genus Gossypium, members of the mallow family. The plants are native to equatorial regions around the world, including Central Asia, Northern Africa, and Central and South America, and cotton has been used by the Peoples of those areas for millennia. Despite its long and fraught history, cotton has become the most cultivated agricultural product on Earth and is grown on every continent except Antarctica.

All photos by Michelle Boyd.

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Copyright © Michelle Boyd except as indicated.

About Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd is a Master Spinner, weaver, and writer who lives in Olds, Alberta, located in Treaty 7 Territory, the ancestral lands of the peoples of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Michelle learned to spin in 1995 when her local yarn shop closed, and she became obsessed with the art and science of making yarn. She has taught workshops across North America and instructed for the Olds College Master Spinner Program for fifteen years. She is also a frequent contributor to both PLY Magazine and Digits & Threads and is currently completing her first book about spinning.

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