Better Bedding:4 Fascinating Facts About Making Hemp Fabric
Hemp-based fabric is increasingly being celebrated for its natural simplicity in a world of highly manufactured (and potentially toxic) mass-produced goods. Grown without pesticides, made without harsh chemicals, and free of allergens, a good-quality hemp weave will provide lasting comfort and gentle-on-the-skin softness in both clothing and bedding.
Did You Know: How hemp fabric is made provides some clues about why fibres from this ancient plant offer so many health benefits (for you, and for the environment). So, let’s take a look at four intriguing facts about producing hemp fabric – including a bit of history involving criminalization and World War II.
Hemp producers were once deemed guilty by association
In 1937, hemp was criminalized in the US, despite this cousin of cannabis having very little of the latter’s intoxicating properties. These restrictions were relaxed once the United States entered the second world war and the need for durable, long-lasting fabric to make rope and canvas became crucial.
However, it wasn’t until 2018 that hemp was removed from the “controlled substances” list, making it legal to grow hemp in America (at least as far as the federal government was concerned).
Hemp cultivates a positive image, natural
Hemp cultivation is truly a model of efficiency: the plants can grow densely packed (choking out weeds along the way) and often require little more than rainwater to thrive. Almost any soil condition can support hemp growth, and the plants natural resistance to insects means pesticides and herbicides can remain locked up in the shed.
And hemp is in a hurry: it grows so fast that harvest time arrives after only four months. Harvesting consists of cutting and baling the stalks (the fibres that go into Yugen Hut bedding are from the hemp plant stalks; the leaves and seeds are turned into natural products such as hemp milk and hemp seed oil) and then leaving them in the field for about five weeks.
Why just leave the hemp stalks lying around after all the harvesting activity? It’s so a natural process called “retting” can take place: over time, naturally occurring bacteria and fungi break down the pectin that binds the hemp plant’s fibres, making them ready for the next stage.
“Breaking” news: guess who’s separating?
Breaking, Scutching and Hackling. It sounds like the name of a law firm, but it’s actually the next three steps in the treatment of the soft hemp fibres that are the basis of products like Yugen Hut bedding.
“Breaking” is exactly what the word suggests: hemp stalks are passed through fluted rolls or similar devices that break the surface layer covering the dried hemp fibres.
“Scutching” is a process in which the broken hemp stalks are beaten in order to separate the remaining woody cores from the plant fibres. This is the second-to-last stage of removing any unwanted materials, followed by…
“Hackling”, which is another term for combing the stems to remove any impurities still hanging on. Hackling also aligns and cleans the line fibres (those which are destined for use in high-quality fabrics, as opposed to the secondary “tow” fibres found in rope and twine – with hemp, nothing is wasted!)
Go roving, then take a spin
Hackling results in a continuous sliver of hemp fibres. This sliver is then twisted to further draw out the line fibres, making them even more durable and resilient. This process is known as “roving.” This is followed by “spinning” the material on bobbins, which can take two forms: wet or dry. To produce a finer yarn for bedding or clothing, hemp fibres are completely soaked in a trough of water during the spinning process. Dry spinning produces a coarser yarn destined for carpets, handbags, shoes, and other uses where durability is paramount.
Of course, the story of making hemp is just one part of a larger tale – one with global implications. Hemp production techniques are much friendlier to the environment than those used to make many other fabrics, and responsible companies like Yugen Hut ensure their hemp is sourced from farmers who are fairly compensated and who employ sustainable farming methods. It’s all in the making, so make a healthy choice for hemp bedding today!