5Cotton is the product of the cotton plant, and looks, when massed together in the boll, like a soft, fluffy ball. Under the microscope the cotton appears as a flat spirally-twisted tube, and it is upon this naturally twisted formation of fibre that the strength of the yarn when spun depends, this enabling extremely fine counts to be spun.
From the time the cotton is harvested in the cotton fields until it is spun into yarn, it is subjected to many processes, all of which are designed towards the cleaning of the cotton. Seeds and all foreign matter are removed before the fibres are straightened out to make the cotton yarn. As is the case with all textile fibres, cotton has many different grades, these being determined by the length of the fibre (or staple) also its colour and strength.
These fibres range in length from ¾" (various Indian varieties) to 1¾" (Sea Island types). These latter types are the ones used in the manufacture of a high-grade stocking, being sometimes utilised in the making of an all-cotton hose. Great use is made of them in heel, sole and toe reinforcement, these being the areas which are subjected to the heaviest wear. A fine count of yarn is used in these operations, only the smooth, long fibres spun into fine counts being used. These are characterised by a silky, regular thread.
The bales of cotton arriving at the spinners are broken open, and the compressed cotton is put through a “breaker-picker”, when any seeds and foreign matter not taken away in the “ginning” process in the cotton fields, are removed. The cotton comes out in the form of a roll (called “lap”). As, for the production of an even yarn, the fibres are required to be straight, the lap is conveyed to a carding machine for the straightening—or parallelising—of the fibres, and here the lap is brushed out into a thin mist-like sheet, after which it is shaped into a round form, called a “sliver”. Twenty of these slivers are then combined to produce another lap (or blanket, as it is sometimes referred to) which is then wound into rolls, several of which are