This week, Jess Jiang and Robert Smith visited the factory in Indonesia where U.S. cotton was spun into yarn for the Planet Money T-shirt. (They also visited several other factories.) Here are some of the pictures Robert posted to our T-Shirt Tumblr.
Other than this woman spot checking some of the cotton, no human's hands touch the yarn. It's all machines, shooting strings of cotton, twisting and twirling and winding.
This photo is a montage of my favorite thing. The "sliver" (rhymes with MacGyver) is a wispy ponytail of cotton that swoops and twirls through the air, ducking in and out of big ugly machines. I wanted to grab it.
Jess Jiang records a room full of ring spinners, which put the final twist on the yarn.
Yarn is checked for contamination in the UV light room. Even a single strand of hair will show up.
When I was touring the spinning plant, I kept shoving samples into my pockets. What starts as raw American cotton (top left) turns into something like baby's hair (top right), then into cotton candy (bottom left), then into finished yarn (bottom right). The yarn is knit into the fabric to make T-shirts.
For more pictures and videos from our travels, see our T-Shirt Tumblr. #seedtoshirt