By Adil Ali

Have you ever wondered what it may feel like to be a coil of cotton rope for a day? No, neither have I. I thought about writing a boring old blog post on how cotton rope is made and what it’s good for etc, but that’s no fun is it! So I decided to put myself in the shoes strands of the rope and I’m going to try and show you exactly where it came from and how it is created.


The Beginning


Like all life, there is a beginning. The beginning for me is on a cotton plant of the genus gossypium (a species of plant). I grow into a soft fluffy staple fiber that transforms over time into a little boll, like a protective capsule. Native to tropical and subtropical parts of the world, me and my cotton siblings grown in the America’s, Africa and India. The english name actually derives from the arabic (al) quṭn قُطْن.



Selection for Duty (Picking)


Once I am fully grown I get selected for duty (picked) mechanically usually by a cotton picker which is a machine that removes the cotton from the boll, without damaging the cotton plant (my birthplace). In some developing countries my fellow cotton buddies are still picked by hand. Now that me and my cotton pals have been picked, we are sent off to a yarn spinning exercise class that allows us to lose a lot of that fluffy fat around our waists, some of you will know what i’m talking about. 


Natural Oil Spray Tans and Combing


Before the spinning class we all go for a spray tan and get lubricated with natural oil. While I was in there I did have my eye on this wonderful strand, I think she was from France, Cottienne was her name if I remember correctly (sorry, I’m going off topic). The lubrication is to give us an easy ride through all of the machines that get rid of any dirt that we may have gathered on our journey from the picking, straighten us out as a few of the strands were on a bit of a bender last night. This then allows us to be combed through with several sets of steel-toothed combs. As we go through this process, the combs get finer and bring us all closer together. If only you could see Cottienne now, she looked amazing.



The Silver Yarn Twist


We are all nicely combed, spray tanned with loose fibers which everyone calls a silver. Tonight is the yarn dance and the next step into making it big is the yarn twist. With our new team name ‘silver’, we are run through rolling machines to compress any extra weight that we gained before twisting onto the yarn. After a long night of twisting, we are on the yarn and have now transformed into a beautiful soft breathable textile. You wouldn’t believe it but I was shoulder to shoulder with Cottienne, absolutely loving life.

Bobbin All Over the World


Because I was selected to be a 3-strand rope lad, we are then wound from the yarn onto spools called bobbins. Some fellow rope brethren and sisters are dyed at this stage to change the colour of the rope. Sort of like plastic surgery, but hey what do I know about plastic surgery, I’m just a piece of yarn now right? To maintain proper relation to each other, the yarn ends are fed through a register plate and then into a compression tube. A tight strand of rope is produced when we are pulled through the compression tube and twisted. Sometimes the strands are transferred to strand bobbins, but us tough strands just go straight into the closing machine. This is all shown in the image above taken of me around aged 5 months if you’re getting confused.


Tying Up All Loose Ends


A laying top keeps all of us strands together, it looks similar to a tube like clamp giving it that rope shape. The end of the three strands that are peeping out of the tube clamp are twisted and locked together, we call this process closing the rope. As I was getting twisted round, out of the corner of my eye I saw Cottienne wrapping around me. It was like a dream come true, we were going to be ropers (rope lovers) for the rest of our lives. To finish off this fairytale we get wound onto a reel and the end of the rope is taped to keep us together.


Where Am I Now?


I live in a wonderful semi detached house with a young couple, Tyler and Doris. They have the most adorable and energetic little pup called Jasper. I live in his mouth around 8 hours of the day.




Picture of Cotton Plant

Uses of Cotton

Rope making Diagram

Image of Dog Rope