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Fair Trade Cotton Scarves, Cotton Pashminas and Cotton Shawls.
Cotton is without doubt the most widely used natural material in the production of all sorts of fabrics. At York Scarves we stock pure cotton scarves, cotton pashminas, cotton shawls and cotton wraps of various weights and designs. Our plain cotton scarf is one of our bestselling lines and highly recommended as a summer scarf. If you, like an ever growing number of people, are becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the environment why not try an organic cotton scarf from our new range. If you want a heavier classic pashmina you will find our fair trade viscose pashmina range perfect.
Cotton is a plant based fabric and as such the basic component of its structure is cellulose. The actual fibres used to make cotton yarn are from the soft fluffy balls, known as bolls, that the cotton plant develops around its seeds as protection. These lightweight bolls also help with seed dispersal. One of the huge advantages of cotton over other yarns is that it can be grown as an agricultural crop allowing for large scales of supply, and with higher volumes comes the benefits of “economies of scale” leading to much lower prices. Currently the global annual production of raw cotton is around twenty five million tonnes! This crop uses approximately 2.5% of all the arable land currently in use globally. The salt bush, or shrub is quite tolerant of salt and fairly drought tolerant making it a prime crop for some arid regions where other crops would not thrive.
Cotton has been used by man for thousands of years, in fact fragments of yarn found in the Indus Valley have been dated back to the fifth millennium B.C. However, it was only with the invention of the cotton gin that regular production became practical. The cotton gin is a device that separates the cotton fibres from the seeds, a very labour intensive process when done manually. The earliest recorded use of a rudimentary hand operated cotton gin was about 1700 years ago, but it wasn’t until the 1790’s that a modern mechanical device was invented in the USA, and that really opened the door to the mass production of cotton. Currently China is the world’s biggest producer of cotton with most of this being used in their own domestic market. The biggest exporter of cotton, by a long way, is still the USA.
As a material for making scarves, cotton has many advantages but probably chief amongst those are its softness and its price. It doesn’t have the same insulation qualities as silk scarf or those made of wool, but in warmer weather this is a bonus. A light cotton scarf woven with a loose open weave is perfect for warmer climates. Of course, as with any yarn it can be spun and woven in a heavier weight and used for winter scarves also. In keeping with most natural yarns cotton also absorbs dye readily making it an easy fabric to add colour to. Many of our screen printed scarves are made of fine cotton. With printed scarves it is important that the fabric absorbs the dye so that the pattern can penetrate to the reverse side. This is not possible with petro chemical based fabrics. On these the dye sits on the surface of the fabric and it is only with exceedingly fine, light fabrics such as crepe and chiffon that colour can be seen on both sides.
Cotton is also used in combination with other types of fibre. We sell many cotton and silk pashminas and cotton and viscose scarves. Sometimes the yarn is blended so that a mix of silk and cotton fibres are spun together. You can also make fabrics with one type of yarn through the warp and another across the weft. By mixing fibres you can gain the benefits of both. Our cotton and silk pashminas are beautifully soft and light but cost a lot less than a pure silk pashmina. Our cotton and viscose scarves are physically lighter and softer than a pure viscose scarf. Cotton is one of nature’s true gems and a firm favourite with our customers all year round. We also use pure cotton in our Tartan Scarf range which has become a true classic and a firm favourite in the cooler months.