The use of cotton for weaving had been established in seventeenth century Lancashire. At this time cotton yarn was irregular in thickness and tended to break at thin, weak points. The yarn was unsuitable for knitting on frames and produced poor quality stockings that laddered easily. Henson reported that the first pair of cotton stockings were knitted in Nottingham in 1730.
To overcome problems with cotton, framework knitters needed a suitable yarn with uniform thickness and strength. Yarn from India had the required qualities but London framework knitters found it difficult to work and rejected it. After this a sample of the cotton was sent to Draper, a stockinger from Bellar Gate in Nottingham. Draper successfully knitted stockings on a twenty-guage silk frame. The pure white cotton stockings soon became popular with customers and were sometimes preferred to silk stockings.