Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sustainable wardrobe- Part 3- HEMP


Hemp is a fibre much like flax coming from the Cannabis family

Cannabis nowadays is mostly known for its element tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a narcotic substance found in about 10% Cannabis species .

Hemp was first cultivated around the Caspian Sea and can grow as far north as the Baltic Sea and it was used as a plant fiber for textiles and later  paper in China as early as 2700 B.C. Because of its connection to the narcotic element although not present in fiber hemp it is prohibited from cultivation in the USA and under severe restrictions in the EU.  Most hemp comes from China Fiber hemp, however, contains virtually no THC and usually comes from THC low strains of Cannabis sativa and not Cannabis indica plants. In 1883 US law banned all hemp production ostensibly because of its drug use but in truth cotton farmers lobbied against hemp farmers. Thinking of all the chemical elements present in cotton currently I see hemp as a viable alternative sustainable fabric for clothes.

Hemp is grown, harvested and processed much like flax. Hemp fabric is strong and durable though usually not as fine as linen. The word canvas derives from the Latin word cannapaceus (meaning:derived from hemp), and even in Roman times sails were made from hemp canvas.

Hemp is very environmental friendly since it requires almost no pesticides and no herbicides. It grows fast with a high yield. Hemp seed is used in food preparations, cosmetics and animal feeding. The straw is used as biodegradable animal bedding. Nowadays, hemp is mostly used for paper making and grows much faster than a tree as a sustainable resource.

A few facts about Hemp

  • Used for ropes :The stalk grows over ten feet tall and has been used in the shipping industry for centuries.It provides a very strong, durable and rot resistant fiber..
  • The short fibers of the stalk can be used in textiles as a replacement or blended with other fibers such as  cotton.
  •  Hemp as similar fiber capacities as linen. It insulates the body against heat and keeps body
    warmth inside during colder spells. But it is more durable than linen or cotton.Hemp holds its shape and is very resistant to stretching.
  • The more hemp fabric is used, worn, washed and ironed the better it wears the more
    comfortable it gets. Hemp wears in not out
  •  It is resistant to mildew, mould and salt water.
  •  It blocks UV-radiation effectively which means less fading of the fabric and effective protection of body in clothes against UV-radiation
  •  Hemp-blends with silk, linen, wool and cotton prolong the life of the fabric while retaining its soft quality at the same time.
  • The original Levi Strauss jeans were made from hemp canvas.
Hemp can be bought online in the UK here and there are a variety of products to choose from including hemp wool  and fiber to spin.( I can see I am getting carried away with possibilities).
Another source is The House of Hemp with more yarns and colours.

Making the summer top as my January project took a bit longer but time is not the issue here and it is still very cold.

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