Friday, February 04, 2011

4 February: Hemp

A recent fibre order included some hemp; I like to try something different now and then.

It had been in my workroom for a while before I opened the plastic bag it was sealed in.  And reeled back from the smell!  Pig manure?  Cow slurry?  It was definitely something farmyard-y.  (My apologies to readers of a delicate nature.)

So the bag was returned to the corner for another while, in the hope that the smell would dissipate.  It did a little, so today it was examined more closely.  First impression was "straw", but I took a handful and started up the wheel.  It spun like straw.  Threw that bit away and browsed the interweb.

The stuff people were spinning in videos doesn't look much like what I have, and there was a definite mention of a short staple - mine is about as long as the whole bunch.  But never say die. I put some through the drum carder. And again.

It certainly looked more spinnable, so I divided it in two and spun it. Much better, it actually drafted and I can see how it could be spun quite finely with a bit more practice. Here it is after washing - the water was a dreadful colour.

Hey look - I spun string!!

But why does it smell so bad? Perhaps to stop anyone thinking of smoking it?  It needs to be cleaner and sweeter smelling.  Should it be soaked in boiling water for a while?  Or just boiled?  Or will my garden be the only one with hand-spun string?

1 comment:

Party Valley Heights said...

Hi Stitchwort, I came across your blog when I was researching the raw materials for a plank canoe that was built by the Tongva people here in Southern California.

I'm working on an exhibit that deals with how they utilized local resources. Your photo of the hemp cord your spun would look great on the graphic I'm designing about the plank canoe. Would you be willing to let me use it?