Our Cotton Story

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Our U.S. organic cotton yarn represents what we value most: family and community.  We work with small-scale sustainable family owned cotton farms, family mills  and handcrafters, to help support vibrant communities and a culture of love and caring.    

Rather than succumbing to the prevailing forces of mass production and mass consumption, our yarn provides another path to take - a slow and easy meditation on a world where individual efforts make a difference. We hope that this 'culture of caring' is fused into each and every stitch you knit, crochet or weave with our yarn for your child.

Cotton has been a fiber that has spanned human history

Until the industrial revolution brought massive high volume production in growing and processing cotton, cotton was cultivated alongside food all over the world.  It is a hardy and adaptable plant.  Remarkably, the cultivation and techniques for spinning and weaving cotton developed independently in communities isolated from one another: in the Indian subcontinent, in Africa, throughout Asia and the Americas.  The commonality is they all inhabited a geographic band on the earth, roughly 37 degrees north to 35-32 degrees south, climates suitable for growing cotton. There were sophisticated uses of cotton by the Mayas, Aztecs, Incas, and Navajos; by people in the Caribbean, Middle East, throughout India’s coast of Coromandel, along China’s Yangtze River, and in Osaka Japan. 

“Fashioned by African, American and Asian peasants, spinners, weavers and merchants over at least five millennia, this cotton world was vibrant and expanding.  Despite its diversity across three continents, the centers of this huge manufacturing industry had many things in common.  Most importantly, cotton growing and production almost always remained small-scale and focused on households.” [1]  It is in this spirit, small-scaled and family-focused, that we offer our cotton yarn.

We get our yarn from Texas family farms that raise cotton organically

The essential attribute of our cotton is that it is grown organically in the U.S.  Organic cotton represents only 1% percent of global cotton production, with the balance grown under the use of pesticides, herbicides, miticides and petroleum-based fertilizers.

Under the umbrella of the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, about forty family farms grow cotton organically in the heart of a region known as “the world’s largest cotton patch.”  The climate has winter temperatures cold enough to limit insects and sunny enough to make for quick drying soils that allow for timely mechanical weed control.  These organic cotton farms are committed to sustainable practices, despite being vulnerable to the vagaries of weather, with yield and quality dependent on rainfall amounts, which vary significantly from year to year. 

TOCMC and its members are certified organic under the US Department of Agriculture National Organic program.  Each bale of cotton marketed by TOCMC is tracked from the field to the customer.  We know the producer’s name and farm for each bale we purchase.

These farms also grow other organic crops including peanuts, wheat, corn, blue corn, milo, forage, sorghum, soybeans, blackeyed peas and watermelon.  Also, the cotton seed, which is separated from the cotton fiber in the ginning process, is marketed to organic dairies for feed.[2]

Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative Mission Statement:  Our goals are to be responsible stewards of the land in order to pass our farming heritage to our children, and at the same time, to provide you with a quality product produced in Texas through environmentally conscious methods.

  • Farmer Owned & Operated.
  • Commitment To Sustainability.
  • Traceability of Each Bale of Cotton.
  • Quality Oriented.
  • Integrity

The organic cotton is shipped in bales to family owned mills for processing and plying

The cotton then gets shipped to a third generation family cotton mill in North Carolina.  They are proud graduates and supporters of North Carolina State’s College of Textiles, the only college in the U.S. devoted entirely to textiles.  They separate out our organic cotton in their warehouse and on their spinning equipment from the non-organic cotton; and take the cotton from bale to roving to sliver to finished yarn, the final steps on sophisticated computer controlled spinning equipment

 

The yarn then travels to a family owned mill in Georgia that operates in an 1850 built brick mill in a region that was once at the heart of cotton fiber production. During the last 30 years, most all the mills closed as production went off shore.  The ones that have remained, like our twisting mill, have reduced their operations and have survived by providing specialty services to niche markets.  Because of a wide ranging career in the textile industry and a lifetime of accumulated knowledge about the adaptable properties of cotton fiber, they are able to custom twist our yarn in a specialty twist with the goal of keeping the knitting yarn from being stiff.  Babies need to be wrapped in soft and natural cotton. 

Earth-friendly dyes on our organic cotton

When we dye the yarn, we use the state-of-the-art “low impact” dye process, using dyes that have met the criteria for the Global Organic Textile Standard (3.0) under the IMO (Institute for Marketecology), an international agency that provides quality assurance in the field of ecological textiles.

 

 

 

 

[1] Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton A Global History, Vintage Books, 2014, p 14.

 

[2] Information for the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, Lubbock Texas.