The properties and origin of cotton

Cotton is the perfect summer yarn as it feels soft and cool on the skin. The fibres are known for their breathability and absorption, which makes cotton yarn perfect to wear in high temperatures. Unsurprisingly, cotton has been popular for a long time - records of its use go back to India and date to approximately 5000 BC.

Cotton is a natural fibre which originates from the seed hair of cotton plants. The plants are from the genus Gossypium and need a lot of sun and water to grow. The seed hair is essentially a protective casing surrounding the cotton seed, which is known as a boll.


Turning cotton seed hair into fibres to spin

Producing cotton fibres starts with the process of separating the cotton seed from the boll. This was a process that was completed by hand until the cotton gin was invented in 1794. Today, machines for both harvesting and removing seeds from the boll exist.

After the fibres are completely separated from the seeds, they are transferred to a factory to be processed into long fibre strands through carding. These long fibre strands are then spun into yarn.

Dye process

Our summer cotton yarns come in a vast range of shades and are hank dyed using a reactive dyeing technology, which gives high quality fastness and involves no bleaching. The process is free of harmful chemicals and OEKO-Tex certified.

It is vital to Rowan that our yarn production limits the impact on the environment, which is why we are proud to work with a partner that is committed to the highly-economical usage of dyes and chemicals.

Rowan Cotton Yarns

For our cotton yarns, including Summerlite 4ply, Summerlite DK, Handknit Cotton and Cotton Glacé, the processing of the cotton fibres is done in Hungary. The fibres for our Summerlite yarns are procured in Egypt, and for Handknit Cotton and Cotton Glacé we receive fibres from Pakistan. These fibres are then turned into our beautiful knitting and crochet yarns in a state-of-the-art factory. The factory is dedicated to high energy-efficient production, minimal textile waste and low water consumption, as well as reduced CO2 emissions.

Knitting with Cotton

Our summer cotton yarns have been such a vital part of Rowan’s Spring Summer Knitting and Crochet Collections for years. Keen to try knitting with cotton this summer? Let’s have a look at the current and archive designs for some inspiration.


Gardenia by Martin Storey

This stylish long-length cardigan by Martin Storey is knitted using Summerlite 4ply. The all-over fair isle design uses an elegant floral motif worked in warm tones, which pop against a neutral grey background.


Oyster by Quail Studio

Cotton Glace has great stitch definition and is the ideal choice for this long-length, edge-to-edge cardigan by Quail Studio. Bands of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch are framed by a deep one-by-one rib and the turned back cuffs add a fun extra detail.


Kathy by Lisa Richardson

A favourite from Rowan Spring Summer 2021 collection was the elegant Kathy sweater by Lisa Richardson from Magazine 69. The two-coloured checked design shows the vibrant colours of our Summerlite 4ply to absolute perfection.


Clyde by ARNE & CARLOS

Another favourite from the same collection is Clyde by ARNE & CARLOS. This eye-catching men’s cardigan in colour block design uses four shades of Cotton Glacé.


Cornwallis by Martin Storey

When picking a design that shows off our Summerlite DK yarn to perfection, it is impossible not to pick Cornwallis. This popular design features an appealing combination of stripes and garter stitch.


What cotton project will you cast on this summer?

Let us know on Instagram and Facebook by using the hashtag #knitrowanbyme and we’ll feature our favourites!

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