This week I have a very special blend to offer you: Happy Tiger Bunny Tops. I have put this blend together because I found that there were hardly any hemp fibres or blends with this amazing plant fibre available. Hemp always has this stigma attached to it that almost always makes people think you smoke the plant rather than see it for the amazing plant it is.
Hemp is one of the most versatile plants known. It can be grown in most climates, is drought resistant, requires little fertilizer, minimal pesticides or herbicides, and has a range of uses. The seeds can be used as food and fodder, and can be processed to produce hemp oil. The stalks provide fibre for textiles, clothing, rope, paper and building products. The bulk of the woody stalks can be used for paper, animal bedding, and plastics. The hemp plant biomass can be used to produce fuel. Anything that trees/timber can be used to produce, hemp can produce and more, including house construction. Actually in the early 1900s Henry Ford built the bodywork of a car out of hemp fibres that proved to be ten times more dent resistant than those made out of steel and weighed ¾ less ! Due to the lobbying and pressure of the steel industry , well, we all know what happened…the bodywork of cars are not made of hemp fibre blends anymore are they….
Why use hemp for all these products? There are two main reasons – one ecological, one economic.
Ecological: As a renewable resource from living plants hemp does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. The growing plants absorb as much CO2 as will later be released when oil or other plant matter is burnt. Unlike fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) or nuclear fuels hemp could supply us with raw materials for thousands of years, without ever changing our climate and without producing waste that remains radioactive for millions of years. Hemp is a natural plant material that can be grown with little or no herbicides and pesticides, and little fertiliser. Therefore in terms of the agricultural system it is more ecologically sensitive. In paper and textile production, it can be processed without toxic chemicals, whereas alternatives such a cotton or textiles and wood pulp for paper, require large amounts of toxic chemicals. Because hemp is not a fussy grower and can grow in a wide range of soils and climatic conditions it is ideal for a bio-regional approach. It is a bulky crop and does not require high capital technology to process, making it ideal to process locally, increasing local employment and economy, and saving transport costs and pollution.
Economic: Hemp is the number one biomass producer - 10 tons in approximately 90 – 120 days. One acre of hemp will produce as much fibre as 2-3 acres of cotton. One acre of hemp will produce as much paper as 4 acres of trees. Hemp clothing will last six times as long as cotton clothing. Hemp also does not need any herbecides or pestecised and uses wayyyyy less water to grow than coton does.
Bast fibres account for 20-30 percent of the stalk (depending on the seed variety, and planting density). There are two types of bast fibres: primary bast fibres. Primary bast fibres make up approximately 70 percent of the fibres and are long, high in cellulose and low in lignin. Primary bast fibres are the most valuable part of the stalk, and are generally considered to be among the strongest plant fibres known. secondary bast fibres. Secondary bast fibres make up the remaining 30 percent of the bast fibres and are medium in length and higher in lignin. They are less valuable and become more prevalent when the hemp plants are grown less densely, making shorter fatter stalks since they do not have to compete for light. The production or extraction of the primary bast fibres has traditionally been a very labour intensive process, but recently an alternative fibre separation process has been developed using technologies such as ultrasound and steam explosion, which are much less labour intensive. Once separated the bast fibres are ready for spinning and weaving into textiles, or for pulping into high quality pulp. Bast fibres are ideal for specialised paper products such as industrial filters, currency paper, tea bags or cigarette paper.
Hurds are the short fibred inner woody core of the hemp plant. They comprise 70-80 percent of the stalk and are composed of libriform fibres which are high in lignin. Traditionally hurds have been considered waste as they are the by-product from bast extraction. The hurds are 50-77 percent cellulose making them ideal for paper making. One acre of hemp can replace 4.1 acres of trees for pulp production. Although the fibres are shorter than bast fibres they are suitable for a range of products such as rayon, biomass fuel, cellophane, food additives, industrial fabrication materials and newsprint pulp.
China is currently the prime producer of hemp textile. China has had an uninterrupted hemp trade for approximately 6000 years. Other countries are now producing textiles to a lesser extent. The once major hemp textile industry has now almost completely disappeared from the Western world. Currently the bulk of our demand for textiles is met by cotton and synthetics, both of which have serious environmental problems associated with them. There is a change happening though with a production taking place in New South Wales. Hopefully we can soon have a bigger production of Australian Hemp fibres to spin and make textiles with. Not only are there environmental benefits through hemp cultivation, hemp fabrics themselves have advantages to us. Fabrics with at least 50 percent hemp content block the sun's UV rays more effectively than do other fabrics. In comparison to cotton, hemp fibres are longer, stronger, more lustrous and absorbent, and more mildew resistant. Woven and knitted hemp textiles are used in the production of clothing, shoes, apparel, canvas, rugs and upholstery. Another titbit of information: In 1916 the American government predicted that in 40 years time there would be no need anymore to cut trees down for paper production: hemp production would be enough since 1 acre of hemp would produce the equivalent of 4.1 acres of trees…I guess the prediction didn’t eventuate…but the fact remains: one acre of hemp can produce 3 tonnes of protein, about 4000 liters of fuel and 30 tonnes of fibre.
Happy Tiger Bunny Tops
Special IxCHeL Gift Voucher
Dates to put in your Calendar !!
I will let you all know when there are pop up market stalls or spin ins planned again for next year as soon as I know them.
2. message me on facebook or ravelry where I am Ixchelbunny.
I will email you right back with all your order details and payment methods.
Any questions? Any custom orders for yarn or dyeing fibre? Please don’t hesitate to ask! Always happy to enable.