Cotton is a wonderful fibre; it can be easily washed, takes colour beautifully, maintains its shape and can be knitted into a myriad of different stitches and weights. It feels fresh when worn next to the skin.

However, not all cotton is equal, as has become apparent in recent years. Traditionally, cotton is grown using a range of harmful chemicals, including pesticides and fertilizers, not to mention the chronic over farming of the land. Historically it has also been a product of slave labour and even today, the exploitation of a workforce in certain countries. This is why it is so important to check the cotton we buy is produced using organic and ethical practices all the way through the process.

During my career working as a knitwear designer, I have spent a lot of time sourcing the finest and best cotton from around the world. I have used this experience to find some cottons that are really high quality and wear extremely well to use in my collection. Cotton goes through many more processes than other fibres, which has historically made is very difficult to trace and be sure that it has been grown and produced organically. However, in recent years, largely due to consumer demand, more research has been undertaken in this fields of organic cotton farming and traceability from raw material to finished product. Today, 100% organic, traceable cotton can now be produced on a large scale.

So how do you know that your cotton really is organic?

The main certificates of accreditation are GOTS (The Global Organic Textile Standard) and Oekotex: . These accreditations guarantee that the cottons have not been genetically modified and have been tested to ensure that no pesticides or other harmful substances have been used in their production. Further more, these certificates offer verification from farm to finished fibre.

ICEA (Ethical and Environmental Certification Institute) this accreditation is used to verify the approval of chemicals that can be used in the textile ennobling of GOTS certified textile products. This ensures that the dyes used to colour my cotton knitwear comply with these stringent controls.

TRACEABILITY. The cotton yarns in my collection can be traced back 100% to the original fibre, because my mill only buys fibre which has an approved Mark of Origin or registered Trade Mark.

I have chosen 2 cotton yarns for my collection: one is 100% GOTS certified Peruvian Pima Cotton which is considered to be one of the finest cottons on the market because of its extra-long staple (ELS) which means each individual fibre is longer than regular cotton and so is less likely to pill, break or thin. It also means that the threads are very smooth and regular making the knits look very clean and the stitches very clear which is why I like to use it for knitting fisherman’s ribs, detailed stitches and stripes.

The second cotton yarn in my collection is a blend of (46%) Oekotex organic cotton and (54%) RWS (Responsible Wool Standard) extrafine mulesing free Merino wool . I have chosen this yarn because it offers the warmth, softness and natural stretch of Merino with the cleanness of stitch and freshness of cotton so that it is a perfect blend for year-round wear – perfect for a Gansey jumper with its intricate stitches which will be worn in all weather. It is also a great spring/summer alternative to the 100% British wool which has been designed with the cooler months.