Saturday, August 26, 2006
Right is an image of hemp fibre sorting, taking place in China (courtesy of Minawear). Most textile quality hemp fibre is grown and processed in China, where it is a traditional crop and has not been outlawed as it has in other nations.
The fibre comes from the outer bark of the hemp stems, by weight they are 20-25% of the plant. After soaking or some other form of removal, often known as retting, they are refined by skutching, heckling and cleaning. They are then graded and spun.
Much of this demands specific machinery and experience in handling, which factors make China the world's leading producer. Formerly Russia took this honour, though most of it was produced for rope. Strong, but not always the best in fibre quality. The best came from Italy and demanded up to twice the price of Russian. Today Giorgio Armani is growing fibre for clothes in Italy.