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Image caption English Fine Cottons uses new looms at the mill "It's really re-engaged the weavers and the finishers and the dyers to pull together and forge those chains back again, and there's an enormous appetite for provenance and British made and the quality that we're making here as well," says Tracy Hawkins, managing director of English Fine Cottons. We decided to follow the supply chain from bale to rail, challenging businesses in the North West to make a garment from cotton in its rawest form, all the way through to a shirt. Image caption The raw cotton starts off as a bale So with a bobbin of freshly spun Manchester cotton in hand, we headed 45 miles north to Blackburn. We arrive and hand across our yarn. Colour is the next stage of the process. "We're going to take this into our dye house, we're going to load it onto a dye stand, we're going to bleach it, we're going to dye it and we're going to dry it," says Anthony Green, managing director of Blackburn Yarn Dyers. "The whole process should take about eight hours." Our bobbin then joins scores of others and is submerged into a huge boiling kettle of dye. A short while later, it reappears from behind clouds of steam as newly dyed pink cotton yarn. After a trip through a huge dryer, our bobbin is fresh and dry, then we're back in the car and heading up the road to Burnley.
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