2/25/2009

Why Hemp?


For those of you who have checked out the contest you may have noticed that the prize set was made with an unusual fiber. First I thought I would explain what hemp is and then talk about why I love it so much that I chose to use it for this contest. I like how the picture above really shows off the vibrancy of the color and how well hemp shows the stitch definition.

Hemp is a natural fiber made from the same plant as Marijuana but it comes from the stalk not the flowering plant were they harvest the "mary jane". Although it is illegal to grow hemp in the U.S. since it falsely gets lumped in with the drug, it has been used for centuries as a fiber in everything from clothing, paper, rope, and even fuel. The Declaration of Independence was actually drafted on hemp paper. The first American flag made by Betsy Ross's own hands was 100% hemp and survives to this day. There is a website devoted to getting the word out about what an amazing sustainable crop hemp could be for this country called Vote Hemp. We are starting to find it at a lot of natural food stores and can find all kinds of sources on line in all of its many forms.

I adore working with natural fibers. I'm all about wool and alpaca for cool weather knitting, but I've just never been a fan of cotton or linen. So I was resigned to man made fibers for my spring and summer knitting since silk is mostly out of my price range. There are some amazing rayons and acrylics out there now but they just don't speak to me like the natural fibers do. Recently there has been a great revival of the alternate fibers like hemp, bamboo, corn and I've even seen milk yarns.

My favorite of these is probably bamboo but hemp is a very close second. I like the sheen and how bamboo takes color a bit more but hemp has a great feel to it. It is a lot like linen but I think it is much easier to work with than linen. Linen gets more pliable with washing but knitting with it can be hard on the hands. I don't have that problem at all with hemp. It is even more durable and breaths better than cotton or linen. They will mix it in with other fibers a lot of times to get the best from each of the parts. The yarn in the contest prize has some cotton mixed in it.

You can find a lot more about knitting with these alternate fibers in a fun book called No Sheep for You byAmy R. Singer . The book gives a lot of tips on how to approach these different fibers and teaches knitters a lot about the characteristics and special handling for each of the fibers.

If you haven't checked out the contest you can still enter until March 7 in the post right below.

2 comments:

KarenSloan-WallFlowerStudio said...

An excellent post. Too often do people confuse hemp with it's illegal counterpart.
I read somewhere a while back, that the cotton growers have tried to provide the mis-information about hemp because it is a much more durable and long lasting fibre than cotton is.

Meg said...

i love hemp. i just started this organic line made of all organic hemp and cotton, so cool, it feels amazing, it's easy to work with and looks fabulous! great post!

 

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