Cotton Fiber - The Short of It
Short-staple cotton differed from the long-staple variety in two ways: 1. It's contained seeds are much more difficult to extract by hand 2. It can be grown almost anywhere south of Virginia and Kentucky--the main requirement was a guarantee of two hundred frost-free days. Long-staple cotton requires a more semitropical area such as on the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia.
Egyptian vs. Pima
Pima cotton is a type of cotton grown primarily in the United State's Southwest. It is considered to be one of the superior blends of cotton, and is extremely durable and absorbent. Pima cotton is named after the Pima Native Americans who first cultivated the plant in the US, but its origins date back to its cultivation in Peru. Pima cotton bears some similarity to many forms of Egyptian cotton, which is frequently used in towels and sheets. Pima cotton is a little shorter than Egyptian cotton but still yields a thread that can be woven multiple times into a piece of fabric to create a dense, soft fabric. Pima cotton has long threads similar to Egyptian cotton, which made it an ideal type for development in the US. Cultivation of this form of cotton became especially popular in the early 20th century. Length of threads make it a desirable choice for many products since it can be woven into soft dense fabric. Pima cotton has applications in a wide variety of products. It is used in towels, sheets, and clothing. Pima cotton in clothing is most often used in shirts for both men and women.
Companies like Eddie Bauer and Land's End boast numerous products. Woven sweaters made with pima cotton are, as well, quite popular. They are light to wear, yet provide superior warmth. Men's socks can be made with pima cotton, but will often include some elastic to keep the socks up. Men often prefer these socks above others because of their softness and density. Additionally they tend not to wear out quickly. One of the advantages of pima cotton is that the thickness of the cloth it weaves creates a very durable fabric. Those who market this cotton claim their products can last up to 50% longer than fabrics made from other forms of cotton. A disadvantage to pima cotton is that greater absorbency means stains are more readily formed. Some retailers who use pima in clothing now coat the cloth with an anti-stain guard. Pima cotton is softer than Egyptian cotton.
Egyptian cotton has a much more extensive weave than other types of cotton. Towels made from Egyptian cotton are particularly desirable because they are very soft and help absorb water from the body quickly. Since Egyptian cotton was so desirable, the US decided to try growing a type of it in the Southwest, which is a somewhat similar climate to Egypt. The resultant cotton was a mix of Egyptian and other types of cotton.
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