[Fr.] The cotton plant is an annual, and belongs to the same order as the marsh-mallow and the hollyhock. Originally it was a native of Asia, but it is now cultivated in almost all warm countries, especially in the southern portions of the United States, India, China, Egypt, Brazil, and the West Indies. The plant grows to various heights in different countries, varying from 2 or 6 feet to 9 or 10 feet. Its leaves are dark green, and its flowers are large and usually white or bright yellow. As each flower drops a seed-pod takes its place. These pods are three-sided, and about the size of a walnut. When ripe these pods burst open, showing within a mass of white fibres, which are the snowy balls of cotton. The pods are gathered and the cotton taken out and dried. The seeds are removed by the cotton-gin, a machine with revolving cylinders, covered with sharp teeth, which tear the seeds from the cotton. The cotton is then pressed into large bales. In making cotton cloth, the cotton is thoroughly cleaned by a cotton-picker, carded, and spun into long, fine threads for the warp or for cross-threads. The spinning wheel formerly did this, one thread at a time. Hargreaves invented "the jenny," by which eight threads could be produced at the same time. Continued improvements have made the machinery so perfect as to render the process of spinning easy and rapid. Sewing cotton is made by twisting together several of the fine fibres, and winding on reels or bobbins. The weaving of cotton consists in crossing and re-crossing the threads in a loom to form cloth.
INSIDE OF PICKER
The threads which extend the length of the cloth form the warp ; the threads crossing from side to side form the woof or weft. The fabrics made from cotton include gingham (where the yarn is dyed before being woven), cambric, muslin, lawn, calico, chintz (a kind of heavy calico, gaily colored), corduroy, velveteen, wincey, and other stuffs mixed with silk or wool.