Monday, October 12, 2009

People often ask for a step-by-step lesson on the cotton to cloth process, and how malkha is different. Here goes:
1. Cotton is picked by hand [of course this entire explanation is specific to India, in the U.S. its picked by machine] [I'm not going into cultivation here] and taken to the ginning mill.
2. Ginning means separating the lint from the seed. The proportion by weight is usually around 70% seed and 30% lint. Usually the ginning mill keeps the seed as payment for ginning.
3. Now we come to the difference: in the regular process the lint is steam-pressed into bales, sqeezing the light & fluffy lint into a hard bale of about the density of a block of wood. Malkha avoids this and the following three stages.
4. When the bales arrive in the spinning mills they pass on conveyor belts through coarse, medium and fine-toothed opening. This breaks up the mass into smaller chunks.
5. The chunks or lumps of cotton lint are then blown with great force in the blow-room ... to get the fibres back to their original separate state!
By which time the fibres which started out springy, lively, and lustrous with their capacity for absorbency and colour-holding intact have become dull and lifeless and lost their springiness.
... to be continued

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