When I was moving to a small house in the countryside this spring one of my first thoughts was how to organize my new backyard space. My original plan was to create 3 different plots – herb and vegetable garden, dyeing garden and a microscopic hemp field. While the first two ideas have succeeded entirely, the third one was effectively knocked out by our Polish reality and legal restrictions. My conclusion from this adventure was that if one would like to cover all the way from hemp straw to a ready-made yarn, the best way is to find someone growing it on a large scale and buy from him few armfuls 🙂
The plant is truly amazing and you can spot it in more places you would expect. These are:
- textiles, which are lightweight, durable and breathable. Although hemp yarn may seem unattractive at first sight, it is more delicate than linen and it will become softer the longer you use it (wear and wash),
- car bodies,
- boatbuilding – until the end of the nineteenth century, 70% of the riggings were made out of hemp fibers,
building – some of you might come across a tow in a DIY shops (last time I saw them in Bricomarche). This is a lower class fiber, unbleached, with staples length smaller than 30 cm used to seal eco friendly houses, decks of ships, or threaded connections,
- paper production,
- energy (fuel briquettes).
In addition to this the plant is extremely easy to grow. It has no special climate requirements and is frost-resistant, resistant to pests and copes with weeds itself. Amazing, isn’t it?
Everything would be perfect if not for one snag – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is this very substance that is responsible for the crash of my innocent plan of growing hemp for my spinning experiment. Of couse the case is not hopeless, and there are requirements I can meet to be able to do this, yet their number makes growing hemp on a small scale 100% impossible. Here I need to mention that hemp types that are allowed to be grown contain less than 0.2% of THC, so hemp straw and seeds are the only things that can be obtained from it.
This way I did not have anything else to do but order ready roving.
ver, when you touch a hemp fiber you will experience a huge surprise – it’s slippery with certain amount of silkiness. You will sense of course that the fiber is plant one and it’s certainly not a luxurius one, but it delights me anyway.
How to spin hemp?
Before starting to spin it, a good idea is to prepare a bowl of water. To appreciate the value of water I recommend to try to spin it a little with dry hands and then wet the fingers, which hold the twist. Water beautifully softens the yarn and helps create a really strong thread. Interestingly, newly spun yarn will immediately act as if it had already been stabilized. When I remove the tension it is not trying to unscrew back.
Spinning it is really similar to spinning flax. This is how my handspun hemp skein looks like:
And here I’m holding it my hand to show it’s size better:
In the end I boiled the yarn with a teaspoon of washind soda ash and dried it under tension. The only thing remaining is to wind it into a center pull ball and begin to use it 🙂
I am very curious how will it perform as hemp Christmas snowflakes. I have never encountered any snowflakes made of hand woven hemp so far, so I am lookin forward to see it even more!