Organic Cotton Yarn Information
Copyright © 2010-2012 Dr. James Vreeland, Jr
Pakucho Golden Brown Organic Color Grown Cotton Hand Picked At Harvest.
Why Organic Cotton?
According to the Organic Trade Association organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.
Knitting With Un~Mercerized Organic Cotton
Knitting with un-mercerized organic cotton is a joy. It is nothing like its mercerized counterpart. Mercerized cotton is fiber treated with toxic chemicals to smooth out the natural fibrous texture making the cotton very rope like, polished and unforgiving since any elasticity of the original natural fiber is destroyed. Because natural organic cotton keeps it's fibrous texture it makes for nice lace knitting & crochet since the stitches can cling, like some wools. It is also softer to the touch for the same reason. Mercerization takes the soft textured cling out of the equation.
Un-mercerized organic cotton has some elasticity and can vary depending on the texture, type and thickness of the yarn. We find that it is easier to knit with organic cotton if you are either a loose or medium tension knitter. If you are a tight knitter like we are, we do suggest loosening your tension if possible. If you need to have a specific gauge then lower your needle size to make up for it. Contrary to smaller needles being “smaller” it does not make a project more difficult. If the gauge is the same as someone knitting on bigger needles they will not have an advantage over you. Same amount of stitches and the same gauge does not make things more difficult.... only easier in this case.
If you have never tried knitting with un-mercerized organic cotton based on past experience with conventional cotton and/or are a tight knitter we would suggest giving it another chance. If you are a tight knitter and have worked with un-mercerized organic cotton in the past, give it another try, adjusting your tension and changing your needle size. Organic Cotton (especially color grown fiber) is a very well rounded eco fiber and is well worth the effort.
Why Not Recycled Cotton?
Recycled cotton sounds good doesn't it? We thought so until we really thought about it. The majority of recycled cotton comes from remnant conventional cotton. This means brand new conventionally grown cotton scraps or remnants reprocessed into "recycled yarn". Unfortunately most of this cut fiber needs to be spun with a percentage of conventional synthetic fiber. Although you would think that there would be an argument that this is better than using new conventional cotton, it is really debatable based on the constant watering down of the true idea behind recycling. There might be less processing and chemicals involved, but it only prolongs a need for the people that profit from a chemically altered crop.
There are some who believe that there is an argument that it is better for the environment than using organic cotton, which really falls apart quickly. Unfortunately the more uses found for new conventionally grown cotton, remnant or not, the more demand companies will see to continue their use of it. People that stand behind their use of these remnants will tell you that organic cotton uses too much land or uses too much water. That would be wrong if you look closer. Under organic standards organic crops must rotate to keep the land fertile, so planting organic cotton is never a waste. In Peru color grown fiber needs very little water. Give the cotton trees too much water and they can die. If in the right climate, like specific areas in Peru, much of the water used for the cotton is run off from the Andes and the hot rainy climate surrounding and inside the rainforest. The main goal is to replace conventional cotton crops with its organic counterpart. This would mean losing the need for a huge amount of toxic chemicals and GMOs. This would help protect the environment and in turn protect our health. This goes for GMO soy and corn remnants or byproducts as well, especially given the critical importance of our food supply.
We understand the need to reuse and not waste resources, which we practice everyday, but not at the expense of an ever growing chemical dependent industry. If we vote with our dollars and support organic, while rejecting the conventional option then maybe more companies will get the message and really see the need to make a serious and positive change.
In the end, if you really want recycled cotton yarn, unravel an old cotton sweater that you do not use anymore or that you picked up used at a flea market and give it a new life. That is what real recycling is all about.
Peru: The Right Thing
All of the Pakucho cotton yarn that we offer is Organic and imported from Peru, meaning no genetically modified seed (GMOs), chemicals or pesticides were used to grow the cotton and there were no heavy chemical processes used from the raw picked cotton to the finished yarn product. The carbon footprint for the Peruvian organic cotton is better than if we had sourced organic cotton in the US, which is not an easy thing to do. Their entire production radius is relatively small and the miles it takes for the yarn to travel from Peru to California is more than comparable to a non-existent organic cotton source here, based on the fact that 90% of the US cotton crop is conventionally grown. If that wasn't enough we support Peru for doing the right thing (April 2011) in extending their ban on all genetically modified seed (GMOs) for another 10 years. We need to support countries like Peru that take the threat of GMOs seriously. Sadly, we are still fighting hard just to label GMOs in this country.... and nowhere close to banning them.
Unlike yarns that are claimed to be environmentally friendly, like rayonized soy, corn, bamboo & more, Organic Peruvian Cotton is processed minimally in comparison. GMO crop byproducts and Bamboo stalk are hard fiber, unlike the cotton bolle (fiber puff) that gets picked off its tree. Rayon fibers need to be dissolved in to a toxic chemical soup and then extruded out of spinnerettes like fishing line. Organic Cotton is basically mildly processed, ginned, carded/combed, plyed following GOTS standards & never mercerized. There is no comparison. From the tree to finished product Pakucho Peruvian Organic Cotton is recognizable as the same natural fiber from beginning to end with the added benefit of being Fair Trade.
History of Peruvian Cotton
"The earliest records of spinning date back to nearly eight millennia, to Peru, where Pakucho meant brown cotton in ancient Inca. Today, native~spun Pakucho cotton is grown in natural, cream, beige, brown, avocado and mauve shades. No pesticides, herbicides or other agri~chemicals are used to grow or color these yarns. All harvesting and color sorting is done by hand, just as it has been since the domestication of cotton in Peruover 4,500 years ago."
- James M. Vreeland Jr.
Copyright © 2012 Dr. James Vreeland, Jr
Peruvian Tapestry from A.D. 1000 depicting a cotton plant complete with roots, leaves, stems, flowers and ripening cotton bolls spilling forth with naturally pigmented cotton.
Fair Trade means that the native Peruvian artisans that grew the cotton and spun it into yarn, and everything in between, were treated fairly. They received fair monetary compensation well above Peru's minimum wage. The working conditions are good and their is never slave labor or child exploitation. Many artisans work on their plantations which also includes working at home. In Peru Mr. Vreeland also supports and helps the creative coop of native women who weave craft items with their color grown cotton with simple handmade drop spindles and backstrap looms. He helps to bridge relationships with vendors and tourists so that their beautiful crafts can be sold to help support their families. This also enables the women to continue passing their craft on to their daughters for generations to come. This is the way it should be, while working hand in hand with biodiversity.
Organic cotton has been grown in Peru since the cultivar G. Barbadense was first domesticated on the arid Andean coast about 5,000 years ago, constituting the oldest continuous region of organic cotton production world-wide. The Andean region, and principally Peru, has generally been regarded as the center of origin of the cotton species Gossypium Barbadense, which includes the finest, longest staple Pima cotton produced commercially today. Grown on small farmyard plots by rural artisan and Indian families, native cotton cultivation supports self-help development programs for the benefit of peasant communities and urban women's migrant co-operatives. In the High Jungle of Peru, native cotton has already replaced several thousand hectares of clandestinely cultivated coca leaf from which the fatally addicting cocaine paste is synthesized.
Today, hundreds of Indian peasant farmers benefit from the revival of native and organically grown cotton. Rediscover with us the secrets of the past in yarns and fabrics designed for a lasting future, created by people caring for, and working with nature. As our Partners, you can support the use of environmentally conscientious practices of small farmers and Andean pastoralists while fostering fair trade relationships, and the preservation of rich natural colors.
Using authentic and aesthetically pleasing Andean fibers and fabrics not only ensures the continuity of this noble and ancient textile tradition, but also encourages the revival of environmentally conscientious practices - goals now shared by Old and New World peoples of the most diverse ethnic and cultural heritages.
Copyright © 2010-2012 Dr. James Vreeland, Jr
Pakucho Green Organic Color Grown Cotton Hand Picked At Harvest.
Many of our colors are Color Grown. This is the way it grows in Peru. It is simply amazing to see the range of Golden Browns, Pink to Red Hued Browns, Greens & Mauve Brown (a rare shade called Fiffo) available, as well as Natural Tanguis & Long Staple Vanilla Cream Pima. We were so used to thinking cotton is grown solely white, like a cotton ball, not so long ago. Now people have access to the amazing feats of nature & man with revival cotton fiber that dates back thousands of years.
Color Grown Shade labeling is simple. The information below describes what the letter & number designation means on the label.
The numbers stand for the color values light to dark with 10 being the lightest and 100 being the darkest.
R25-100 series: R = Rojo meaning Red in Spanish. R notes brown w/ pink/red undertones. These shades include Moka, Chocolate & Rich Cinnamon Chocolate (Deep & Rare Color Fiber)
C10-100 series: C = Cafe meaning Brown in Spanish. C notes brown with golden undertones. These shades include Desert Mist, Vicuna, Golden Cafe & Deep Golden Brown (Deep & Rare Color Fiber)
V10-100 series: V = Verde meaning Green in Spanish. V notes shades of green. These shades include Sage, Rustic Avocado, Forest Mist & Deep Green (Deep & Rare Color Fiber)
P000: P stands for Pima. The Vanilla Cream Pima is a fine long staple fiber.
T000 series: T stands for Tanguis. The natural Tanguis cotton is the staple natural white cotton fiber in Peru.
For laundering, deepening of color & shrinkage please see Care Instructions.
Qoperfina is a mix of 97% Pakucho Color Grown Organic Cotton Infused with 3% virgin copper. We had this specific yarn made Vegan for us (sans wool) for the therapeutic properties of wearing it against the skin.
For more information about the Qoperfina please see the whole page we devoted to it.
Wild Crafted Botanical Dyes
Wild Crafted Botanical Dyes are something very special. Native Pervian plants, roots, veggies & fruit are used along with iron & alum mordant salts. The color palette ranges from soft to amazingly deep colorfast colors.
For more information about the Wild Crafted Botanicals please see the whole page we devoted to it.
For more information on the revival of colored cotton & more, go to:
For wholesale inquiries please click on the e-mail envelope below.