Natural Fiber Hemp

Hemp:

·         commonly used term for varieties of the Cannabis planthemp plant

·         Its product includes fiber, oil, and seed.

·         Hemp is refined into products like hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, and fuel.

·         Hemp fibre can be used in 100% hemp products, especially for rope and cord, but is commonly blended with fabrics such as linen, cotton or silk, for clothing.

·         Hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes including the manufacture of durable clothing and nutritional products.

·         The bast fibers can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with other organic fibers such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings

·         Hemp can be used to make a variety of fabrics, similar to but more durable than cotton. Hemp is also excellent for making rugs and other textiles.

·         Hemp is the traditional rope making fiber due to its flexibility, strength, and resistance to water damage.

·         Hemp fibers can be used in clothing.Pure hemp has a texture similar to linen.

Hemp cloth benefits

·         Unlike cotton, which takes an entire season to grow and mature, hemp matures extremely quickly. This means that farmers can get harvests faster, making more of a profit each year.

·         Hemp naturally resists insects and fungus. Cotton, on the other hand, is an extremely delicate plant which requires tons of pesticides and insecticides in order to grow.

·         It blocks more than 50% more UV rays than regular cotton fabrics

hemp cloth

How is it produced?

The crop is cut and the stalks are left in the field or in water to rett. Retting is a natural process which allows micro-organisms and moisture to break down the plant’s pectin. Pectin is a natural plant binder which helps keep the plant’s outer fibre layer connected with its inner woody layer. Retting the stalks and breaking down the pectin facilitates the separation of the fibres from the rest of the plant.

An added bonus of this retting process which takes approximately 4 – 6 weeks is that it gives time for nutrients bound in the plant stalks and leaves to return back to the soil resulting in minimal need for fertilizer supplementation between hemp crops.

hemp production

After retting, the hemp stalks must be dried to around 15% moisture content. This drying process can also take place in the field or inside a barn. Once the stalks are suitably dried, the process of separating the fibres from the rest of the plant can now begin. This process involves a series of increasingly fine combings of the fibres done in two stages known as scutching and heckling.

After scutching and heckling, the long, strong fibres are essentially ready for weaving although it will typically be put through a variety of softenings to make the fibre softer, less itchy and more flexible before it is then dyed and finally weaved into fabric for production of hemp clothing.

 

Nettle

nettle plant

·         They are mostly herbaceous perennial plants, but some are annual and a few are shrubby.

·         The nettle fiber has been driven by concern over the environmental damage caused by the production of the fabrics such as cotton.

·         The nettle is highly successful plant which is found all over the temperate area of the world.

·         The processed fibres of nettle stalks make a strong white thread. Maude Grieve says in her book ‘A Modern Herbal’ that nettle fibres were being used in the 16th and 17th centuries to make sheets and tablecloths.

·         Nettle is still collected and processed in the Himalayas. The ‘bark’ is stripped from the plant and dried for 3 days in the sun. Then it is put in a pond for 10 days and then rinsed in running water, then spun into a rough yarn. The same process doesn’t seem to work for European nettles though as they just break down in the water.

·         Nettle fibres are white, silky, and up to 50mm (2”) long, and produce a finer and silkier fabric than flax, so that it is possible that fine linens for the wealthy may have been woven from nettle rather than flax.

·         They are also naturally resistant to diseases and pests and, unlike cotton, don’t require pesticides to flourish. They also grow well in rainy climates and in areas unsuitable for other crops.

Nettle Cloth Benefits

·         The fabric produced from nettles is finer than hemp fabric and comparable or even softer than cotton. It also has a natural fire resistance.

·         The fibers of the nettle have special characteristic as they can accumulate air inside thus creating a natural insulation.

nettle clothing

How is it produced?

Nettle fabric is made from the fibrous stalks of nettle plants. The bark of the stalks is peeled away and can be used for making baskets. The stalks are then soaked in water so the stalk essentially rots away from the fiber. Machinery similar to that used for separating hemp fiber from stalks is then used to remove any remaining stalk and produce the nettle fiber. The fiber is then spun into yarn using typical spinning wheels and then woven into fabric either entirely composed of nettle fiber or combined with other natural fibers such as wool, hemp, or cotton.

nettle production

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