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Hemp, the Forgotten Fiber

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

This fiber won't deplete the oil reserves and won't pollute the planet

Some home-spun hemp pieces (the stripes are usually cotton or linen).

My latest acquisition, two Unbleached, Homespun Hemp Towels (check out the texture!)

Hemp is known to man for at least 10.000 years, with pieces of fabric found by archeologists in today’s Iraq dating back to 8.000BC. It reached Europe around 1.200 BC and then it spread rapidly to the rest of the world. Ever since, it was used for making clothing and all sorts of household items, from bedding to grain sacks and anything else that required a strong fabric. It was the choice for the mases because the plant was fairly easy to grow and process with primitive implements.

The upper-class and nobles used linen and wool for their clothing, then in 552 AD two monks smuggled silk worm eggs from China and that is how this luxury cloth started to be produced in Europe, first in Italy and the Netherlands, then in England in the 13th century and about 1600 made it to America, about at the same time with cotton.

But Hemp was still grown in some places in Eastern Europe sixty or so years ago and as a boy, I remember seeing bundles of plants immersed in the creek and weighed down with rocks, as part of the processing it into workable fibers.

The home-spun hemp cloth was replaced with the much softer, factory- made fabrics, especially in the household items and one would have a hard time finding any today.

What attracts me to it is the rough, bold texture of the material and its light gray/off-white neutral color, although it can be dyed. With the movement towards natural, vegan lifestyles, I see many possibilities for it, worth exploring sources, as it may still be produced in some parts of the world.

While cleaning out my grandmother’s attic, I came across some old pieces of hemp fabric, some kitchen towels and a large pillow case, and to my surprise, all in very good condition. I’m all excited now of the many possibilities to repurpose this great fabric!

If you want to read about other uses for hemp, check out this,

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