Hemp use dates back to ancient times as a popular fiber for textiles, rope, paper, clothing, and more industrial applications. Today, you can find various hemp clothing brands and textile companies reinventing this age-old material in a fresh and stylish way.
Hemp yarn can be used for various purposes, including sewing, weaving, crocheting, embroidery, and knitting. Are you interested in making your hemp yarn from scratch? It’s never been more accessible to produce hemp yarn-based products.
What Is Hemp Yarn?
Hemp yarn is made with either cannabis or hemp fibers. The hemp fibers of the plant are processed like yarn made from linen through a soaking and crushing process that exposes the inner fibers. These fibers are spun into yarn and can be mixed with other yarn fibers for added strength, softness, and durability.
How Is Hemp Yarn Produced?
Several states allow medical and recreational patients to grow hemp from the comfort of their homes. If you are starting from scratch, you can start your hemp yarn production by growing hemp seeds at home or in your garden.
Commercial hemp production involves larger acres of crops, more specialized equipment, and large facilities for processing the hemp. Below, you will find a general outline of how hemp is grown, harvested, and processed to become hemp yarn.
Hemp seeds are densely planted in the soil. Hemp plants grow tall and slender with minimal branches.
Harvesting hemp occurs before the seeds are formed (early to middle of the flowering stage), since the fibers tend to get coarser toward the end of the season. In commercial hemp farms, a combine harvester is used to harvest the crop.
The retting process involves a natural decay of pectin that holds the hemp fibers together. Fungi, bacteria, and chemicals naturally help separate the fibers through two techniques:
- Dew Retting – Dew retting involves leaving the harvested hemp stems on the ground for 3-6 weeks, occasionally flipping the plants over for even retting. The retting occurs from the natural dew that falls on the plants every morning.
- Water Retting – Water retting involves soaking the plants in water (pond, tank, etc.) for about 10 days. Water retting works best with warm water.
When the retting is complete, most of the moisture has been removed. The plants are then baled.
Hemp plants are passed through fluted rollers or a decorticator to break the stem’s hurd into smaller, workable pieces.
Scutching involves removing the leftover hurd by mechanically beating the broken stems. The process separates short and long fibers.
Hackling involves combing the plant fibers to remove any leftover wood particles and produce parallel strands of fiber.
Short fibers are referred to as tow, while long fibers are called line fibers. Hemp tow is used to create coarse yarn or for stuffing. Line fibers are preferred for finer yarn materials such as clothing.
Roving involves twisting and drawing out the sliver to increase its durability. Then, the sliver is wound on spinning bobbins.
Hemp fibers can be dry or wet spun to produce a continuous yarn. In the wet spinning process, the fibers are completely wetted to produce a smoother yarn. Dry spinning techniques result in a coarser material.
Hemp yarns are bleached with a hydrogen peroxide. Then, they are boiled in caustic soda to refine the yarn.
How to Knit With Hemp Yarn
Hemp yarn can produce various textiles. Generally, working with hemp yarn can be rough on the hands due to its coarse texture. However, the yarn can be softened after several washes, similar to linen.
Knitting experts recommend using the Stockinette or Garter stitch or an open lace technique using a loose gauge for easier handling and better designs. Just watch out for splitting plies when working with hemp yarn. Hemp yarn is known to split once in a while.
Hemp yarn can be a part of a fabric blend, particularly with wool or cotton. The additional fibers provide the hemp yarn with strength.
Learn to Grow and Work With Cannabis at CTU
It all starts with a mature and healthy cannabis or hemp plant crop. Start your cannabis journey by enrolling in Cannabis Training University. Learn online and on your own time how to grow cannabis legally at home and create a variety of infusions, extracts, and products. Enroll today!