Gossypium Barbadense Cotton
The yarn of one Cotton Seed...
As a spinner, weaver and fibre artist, I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of all sorts of fibres, from plant to factory made to animal. And I’m very aware of all the rather long and drawn out processes needed to procure fibres from them all.
My approach has always been to find the quickest and easiest ways to get to where I wanted rapidly. With sheep, goats, rabbits and every other fleece animal, you’ve got the care of the animal, vet costs, keeping the fleece clean, finding a gentle shearer who doesn’t shear double cuts, and then spinning. With plants, there’s all sorts of processes, where the stalks have to be soaked for a period, and then dry slowly, and then be beaten and afterwards combed till the fibres are spin-able.
And factory made fibres are part of the reason why the textile industry is the second most toxic industry on the planet. The first of course, is the petrochemical industry.
In 2016 at the Blue Knob Fibre Festival in Northern NSW I was the MC, and facilitated an impromptu workshop where Steph Seckold exhibited her homegrown cotton, from a plant that had randomly ended up with her. She showed how easy it was to separate the seeds from the cotton, and displayed her form of Indian spinning in a bowl and the crochet she’d crafted from it.
Watching her easily pluck the seeds from the increasing cloud of soft cotton flooff, that expanded incredibly from a compact boll, I fell instantly in love, and promised myself there and then, that I would plant some seeds promptly. I went home with about 20 in an envelope.
Not long after, one of my children got very sick, and our lives changed abruptly from the hippy lifestyle in Nimbin, to living in the middle of Brisbane, and it took me four years to get to it, but I finally planted those seeds. After all those years, only one survived.
I crocheted the white bit of that halter top I’m wearing in the photo with Currawong, out of the first years yarn from that one seed. And I’ve since become totally enamoured with the ease, pleasure, and sustainability of planting a prolific seed as beautiful as these, and the array of uses and creativity that can come out of it.
Australian Government site about the biology of Gossypium Barbadense and Gossypium Hirsutum
A description of some of the medicinal applications of different parts of the Gossypium Barbadense plant
Information about the rather gorgeous cotton Harlequin Bug
The health benefits and medicinal uses of cotton seeds, leaves, roots and oil
This page is about the other sort of cotton grown in Australia, Gossypium Hirsutum. This page is interesting, because it shows the seeds that aren't smooth at all
Breakdown of what's in the cotton plant, and the uses for the leaves in particular