Cotton yarns – The long journey from seed to ball
How is cotton born? Through what processes is it obtained? What is the difference between one type and another? How does fiber become cotton yarns? How to read the yarn label? Each cotton ball that arrives in our hands tells a story and contains a series of data that guide us in the creation and care of our handmade works.
Let’s discover together the origins of this ancient plant and the processes that, from cultivation to the ball, give life to our four 100% cotton yarns: Milo, Nuovo Jaipur, Cablé 5 and Cablé 8.
A journey along the millennia
The cotton plant has been cultivated since ancient times – somebody says even in prehistoric times – and in different areas of the world, including India and present-day South America. It arrived in Europe in the Middle Ages with the Arab domination and until the discovery of America it was a luxury product just like silk. The industrial production, and therefore the wide spreading, begins with the appearance of power looms and steam engines, which speed up the processes of harvesting and spinning.
Harvesting and processing of cotton
China, India and the USA are the largest producers of cotton in the world. In Italy, and more generally in Europe, the climate is not very suitable for the growth of the plant. The cellulose-based fibers are in the cotton wool surrounding small seeds contained in a boll. Harvesting takes place at the end of the hot season; it requires patience, because not all cotton boll reaches maturity at the same time. The fibers – cleaned, dried, de-seeded and compressed – arrive at the cotton mill for spinning, now mechanized and automated in many stages.
How is cotton fiber classified?
When observed under a microscope, cotton fiber appears as a twisted ribbon. The characteristics that define its quality and value are:
- length: the longer the fibers, the more valuable the yarn is
- fineness: the more fibers there are in the yarn section, the more resistant the yarn is
- elasticity: the right balance between ripening and retained water guarantees that the fiber maintains its length when subjected to tension.
- color: also has to do with uniformity and brightness
- maturity: the less the mass of fiber is mature, the longer the creases created by squeezing it between the hands will remain
- cleanliness: the less impurities it retains, the more economic value the fiber will have.
From yarn to ball of thread
We’ve got the yarn, but our seed’s journey doesn’t end there. In fact, the finishing processes begin, carried out to clean and treat the cotton before winding it around large skeins. From here, then, the products destined for the various industries take shape, such as the small balls for hand knitting.
Tightly wrapped, packaged and stored, also our Milo, New Jaipur, Cablé 5 and Cablé 8 yarns are ready to be distributed on the market and reach individual homes.
How many types of cotton yarns are there?
There are several types of cotton yarns classification. For example, if we consider the treatments performed on the fibers, cotton could be:
- Standard cotton: the fibers go through the classic processes of unraveling (cleaning of the flakes), carding (definition of thickness), ironing (refining and twisting) and dyeing. Milo yarn represent this type of cotton.
- Combed cotton: after carding, combing is carried out to eliminate the short and weak fibers and line up so they are all facing the same direction. In this way, the yarn becomes smoother, shinier and more resistant. The other 3 pure cottons – New Jaipur, Cablé 5, Cablé 8 – belong to this group.
- Mercerized cotton: the fibers are treated with caustic soda and wetting agents. The dyes adhere better and the yarn is more elastic, resistant and shiny.
Let’s read together yarn label
The yarn label, in addition to the name, composition, weight and length, contain all the information needed to work a garment or an accessory and to take care of it. Let’s read together the Milo yarn label.
Proceeding from left to right, the symbols have this meaning (we show you those on the color chart, but you can find them on the single label)
- Hand wash
- Do not bleach
- Do not tumble dry
- Iron low heat
- Dry clean, any solvent except trichloroethylene
- Suggested knitting needle size
- Tension in a 10cm square
On Cablé 5 and Cablé 8 label yarns, the following symbols are added to the previous ones
- Suggested crochet hook size
- Suggested fineness of knitting machine
The last 2 yarns, in fact, are also suitable for knitting machine for home use.
Beyond cotton… other Lana Gatto pure fibers
In addition to the range of cottons, the Lana Gatto classic collection offers for the Spring/Summer season another 3 pure yarns of vegetable origin: Fresh, Silky, and Sugar. Composed respectively of 100% linen, silk and sugar cane, they are a fresh solution, gentle on the skin and … natural by definition!