ribbed cotton-wool top

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Senior Member
What do you make of "ribbed cotton-wool" top? I thought cotton wool was

cotton in its raw state, as on the boll or gathered but unprocessed
absorbent cotton

Here's a passage from Joyce Carol Oates's I'll Take You There:
"I wore a ribbed black cotton-wool top with long sleeves and tight wrists, and a black-and-lavender skirt in a crinkly Indian material that fitted me loosely, like a gown falling to mid-thigh."

The action takes place in the sixties, if that helps at all.

Thank you!
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    I think this is a fairly common way to describe cotton fabrics that have a fuzzy finish or texture to them. The way she combines "ribbed" and "cotton-wool" makes me think of a sweater or something similar.


    English USA
    I'll agree with Owlman's description of the garment as some sort of fuzzy sweater, but I've never heard "cotton-wool" as an adjective for fabric.


    Senior Member
    To me:

    In this context "cotton-wool" means that the fabric is a blend of cotton and wool fibres. It is usually written as "cotton/wool" or "cotton 50% wool 50%" or somethign like that (whatever the percentages happen to be).
    Of course!! And yet it didn't cross my mind because it was written "cotton-wool". Thanks!
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