What Makes the Best Cotton Yarn?

There are many reasons to choose organic cotton. From a strictly environmental standpoint, regular cotton is grown using a myriad of toxic chemicals, so many that it is considered the world's dirtiest crop, responsible for more insecticide use than any other crop.  Multiple other chemcials are used in addition to insecticides, such as defoliants. At least half of the chemicals used on cotton are designated hazardous, even extremely hazardous, by the World Health Organization. These pesticides are not selective, they do not stay on the cotton alone, and they do not disappear when their job is done. They  enter the ecosystem, good insects are killed with the bad, and animals of all kinds are effected.  The chemicals become entrenched in the soil and pollute water.  No one part of this world can be separated from the rest, what you do, good or bad, has a far reaching resonating effect.

Organic, for me though, is more than just an adopted value or an environmental stance, it is a necessity. I was born with many health problems, and those chemicals which are now so prevalent in our world make me very sick. While my case may be extreme, I know that the trouble caused by toxic chemicals, like those used in growing and manufacturing traditional cotton or synthetic fibers, is not unusual. Babies are extremely vulnerable, so keeping their exposure to toxins as minimal as possible is so important.  I do not want any other child to experience even a fraction of the pain I have gone through. That passion has led me to search for the very best yarn I could find for my products.

I am very careful in my choice of yarns, as I set very high standards. I do not just want yarn labeled organic, I want to make sure that the yarn is truly organic from start to finish, with minimal processing. A product can be labeled organic as long as it is grown to organic standards, but the label says very little to nothing about further processing standards, which can include harsh solvents, bleaches, and toxic dyes. Color-grown cotton, growing naturally in shades from white to dark brown, deep green, gold and even red, is the obvious choice, and such yarn is the base for many of my products.  However, just because you want safe does not mean you must stick to such a natural palette! Vegetable and mineral dyes, used for thousands of years, work quite well, and when done with care and modern knowledge are much safer. 

There are more reasons to chose organics besides your own health and the health of the ecosystem. While you may not live next to a cotton field, many people do, and those people are inadvertently in the path of the many chemicals used to grow non-organic cotton, both here and in countries around the world. Is it really fair to put their health at risk? Further, much of the world's cotton is processed in a toxic manner, using a myriad of solvents, bleaching agents, heavy metals, VOCs, and other chemicals in the processing, all of which not only pollute the environment but put the workers using them at risk as they are exposed to high levels on a regular basis. In some countries, these workers often include children- I want to make sure that any product I make is safe not just for the baby that will use it, but also does not carry a hidden history of hurting other children along the way. 

Finally, while it is unpleasant to accept this reality, many products, including yarns, are not produced with ethical worker policies, such as fair pay, reasonable working hours, and a safe working environment. All of my yarn is fair trade, start to finish. Some of my cotton is even USA-made, grown and manufactured in this country, something I was very excited to find!