Category Archives: Hemp

About hemp yarns for weaving, knitting, crochet

Sparto Weavers Spanish Broom

Sparto (Sparta) Spartium junceum also called Spanish Broom or Weavers Broom is an almost forgotten textile plant that is native to Mediterranean countries. Spanish Broom was introduced to North America and other countries where it has spread in many areas and has become a menace. However, Sparto was once a very useful textile plant.
There are references to weavers broom plants being used for making ropes, footwear, nets, mats, cloth and stuffing for pillows. The flowers are fragrant and can be used for making scented soaps and perfumes. The flowers are also a good source for yellow dyes.
It is thought that the use of Sparto as a textile plant diminished because the fibre is more difficult to process by mechanical means, compared to flax.

Sparto - Spartiumjunceum
Sparto – Spartiumjunceum

The Sparto plants grow along the rocky seasides of coastal Corfu, Greece.

I go on holidays to Corfu every year, where I have a chance to visit with my friend Agathi the weaver. Every time I visit, she pulls some wonderful textile treasure from her many shelves and tells me about it. This time, it was a bedspread made of hand spun Sparto that was made as part of her dowry.


As Agathi does not spin, the Sparto yarn was hand spun by a friend of hers, using a drop spindle. The bedspread was woven on a narrow loom and neatly stitched together in long panels. The handspun Sparto yarn was used as weft along with cotton yarns.

Agathi explained how the Sparto was collected and processed for hand spinning. The process is very similar to that of processing flax fibre.
The stalks of the Sparto plant are cut and then laid to ret in sea water along the shore. Rocks are placed on top of the fibres to keep the Sparto from floating away. This retting process usually takes 3-4 days. The warm salty water breaks down and softens the fibre so that it can be removed from the plant.
The fibrous part is on the outer core of the plant and the woody stem is in the centre. After retting, the fibre is dried and then beaten with a rock or wooden mallet (or scrutched) to help break up the woody core. Agathi described the fibre that is removed as being ‘soft and cottony’ The fibre is then hackled or combed and spun with the drop spindle.

Agathi said that the best time to collect Sparto is in May or June when the stalks are tender and green. I took a short foraging trip along the coast line to see if I could find some of these plants. In September, most of the Sparto have dried and are in seed, but I did find a few plants that were still green. I cut some stalks and brought them home for sampling.
(In the UK, you can purchase Spartium lyceum plants but they are not very hardy in our climate.)

As we live by the seaside, we took a short trip to collect some seawater for my experiments.

Sea Water Collection
Sea Water Collection

I had collected about 400 grams of Sparto stalks, so I placed these into a large bucket of sea water. The stalks are quite long so I had to fold them to fit them into the bucket.

I will leave the Sparta fibre to ret for a few days and check them daily to watch progress.

Well, it took more than a few days to ret the Sparto – more like a month. I suppose England is not as warm as the mediterranean sea.
The soaking bucket fermented and the Sparto stalks have softened.
I removed them from the bucket and rinsed the stalks with the garden hose. The stalks are now drying in my airing cupboard.

References
Sparto – A Greek Textile Plant
Helen Bradley-Griebel

The Revival of Sparto
University of the Aegean, Dept of Product and Design Engineering
A research study on the potential of a forgotten natural fiber in today’s world

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Distaff Spinning

Both flax and hemp are usually sold in roving form or tow, where the flax has been heavily processed into short 2-4 inch lengths. The flax or hemp roving has often been bleached or dyed. This type of flax and hemp are quite easy to spin as a roving, using a short draw. A distaff is not needed to spin this type of flax or hemp. The flax needs a light to medium twist to hold it together. When I spin the flax roving, I spin it wet, as I have a small dish of water beside me, and wet the fiber with my fingers while spinning. This helps to soften the natural pectins in the fibre and smooth the rough ends together.


Both Flax and Hemp also come in long line strick form, though this is quite often hard to find. The flax fibres are long, 2-3 feet in length, as they are in the original flax plant. The flax comes in a strick, where the long fibres are twisted and rolled together and often tied at one end, in order to hold them in place.

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Distaff
Distaff spinning is used when spinning the long line flax or hemp. The distaff holds the long length of fibres in place, so that you can easily draw a few fibre lengths at a time from the tied bundle as you spin.
I don’t own a flax wheel with a distaff attachment, but I made a small modication to my Kromski Sonata wheel, so that I could attach a distaff to it. I purchased the Kromski distaff that is designed for the Kromski Minstrel wheel.
The Minstrel wheel distaff comes in 2 pieces, one is the distaff itself, and the other is the piece that attaches the distaff to the wheel.
The hole in the attachment piece is too large to fit the Sonata wheel, so I used a bit of wool roving to stuff into the hole to make a more secure fit. I also used a few rubberized washers to raise the height of the distaff slightly on the wheel.

Dressing the Distaff
To dress the distaff, or to tie the long line flax to the distaff, open up the flax bundle and shake out the fibre so it is loose. Examine the fibre to determine which is the easiest end to spin from. One end will be a bit more tangled and knotted together and the other end will be easier to draw fibres from. Lay the fibre onto the table and open it up a bit. Place the distaff on top of the fibre with the top of the distaff at the more tangled end.
Use a length of cord or ties, about 2 meters in length, fold it in half, and lightly wrap it at the top end of the distaff, to secure the fibres to the distaff.
Loosely wrap the flax fibre around the length of the distaff, so that the fibres are all running straight along the distaff.
Then loosely wrap the remaining lengths of the cord around the flax fibre and down the length of the distaff.
Then place the tied flax distaff onto the distaff attachment on the wheel.

Spinning from the Distaff
Because the fibre length on long line flax or hemp is very long, you don’t need a lot of twist in order to hold the fibre together. I spin this on the lowest ratio on wheel. To start spinning, run your hand along the length of the flax that is on the distaff, and select just a few strands from the very end of the tied flax and gently pull these out and begin to spin. You will find that you need to draw this length of fibre out quite a long way, (2 or 3 feet) before you reach the end of that fibre length, and then draw out another few fibres from the flax bundle.
As with any hand spinning, how many fibres you draw out, will determine the thickness of your yarn. To spin a fine flax or hemp yarn, draw out only a few at a time, to spin a thicker yarn, draw out more fibre.
I have a small dish of water beside me, and I dip my fingers into the water to moisten them, and run my finger along the length of the fibre I have just spun, to wet it, before I let the length spin onto the bobbin. This helps to soften the fibre as you are spinning.

Both Hemp and Flax long line fibre can be purchased in my Etsy shop or my Spin Flora website.

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Nettle Yarn

Function with Beauty
by John Dunsmore
http://resurgence.gn.apc.org/articles/dunsmore.htm
The fibre from the Nettle plant has been used as clothing in many cultures. In Nepal, the Himalayan giant nettle was processed and used for both fine clothing and for sailcloth. The fibre from the inner part of the plant was removed. The bark is stripped and can be used for basketry. To soften the fibre, the inner bark was simmered overnight in a solution of water and wood ash. The fibre is then beaten and rubbed with oil to make it easier to separate and tease for spinning. The fibre is dried in the sun and handspun with a hand spindle.
http://resurgence.gn.apc.org/articles/dunsmore.htm

Nettle Cultivation
An exploratory study was done by FAIR-CT98 to reintroduce the cultivation of stinging nettle Urtica Dioica. The nettles are planted on trial fields of 10 hectares and the fibres will be spun into yarn and woven into fabrics to determine different applications.

Grado Zero Espace is researching the use of nettle as an environmentally friendly alternative textile. Nettle yarn was used in WW1 and WW2 as a substitute for cotton yarns. Stinging nettle has a hollow core making it a natural insulation. For warmer winter garments the yarn is spun with less twist so the hollow fibre can remain open. For summer wear the fibres are more tightly twisted, reducing the insulation . Nettles were also used as a natural dye. The leaves produce a green and the roots were boiled with salt or alum to yield a yellow dye.

Barhka Textiles
Village women knit wild nettle yarn into scarves.

The Wild Swan
“Look at the nettle that I hold in my hand! Around the cave where you are sleeping grow many of them; only those nettles, or the ones found in churchyards may you use. You must pick them, even though they blister and burn your hands; then you must stamp on them with your bare feet until they become like flax. And from that you must twine thread with which to knit eleven shirts with long sleeves. If you cast one of these shirts over each of the eleven swans, the spell will be broken…”
Hans Christian Anderson

Spinning Nettles – You Tube

From Sting to Spin

Gillian Edom writes about the historic use of nettles.

Exotic Yarns
Salish Blankets
Wooly Dogs
Spider Silk
Ramie
Norse Yarn

Yarn Spinning Books

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Practical Spinner’s Guides)

Hand Spun: New Spins on Traditional Techniques

The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn

Weaving Pattern – hemp rep placemats: aa011202

Warp-face Rep weave (ripsmatta, ripsi) is a weave structure that uses 2 weights of weft yarn, a thick and a thin yarn, woven in tabby, to create a horizontal ribbed design. In a true warp-faced rep, the warp is sett very closely. When woven, the entire weft is covered.

Hemp placemat
In these hemp placemats, I have used a looser sett, allowing the thick weft to show through. This adds an additional design element to the placemats. The placemats are woven using 2 coloured yarns, alternating in the threading. When woven in tabby, this creates a reversible placemat of different colours.

rep weave

Warp

  • Colour 1: 100 grams 720 ypp 3 ply dyed hemp (Red)
  • Colour 2: 200 grams 720 ypp 3 ply dyed hemp (Burgundy)
  • Natural: 100 grams 1500 ypp 3 ply natural hempWarp Length: 4 ydNo. Ends: 150

    Sett: 10 epi

Border

The borders on the placemats are approx. 2 inches in width. Use Colour 1 & Colour 2 alternating in the threading.
rep weave

Threading:

Colour 1 – 10 ends (Red)

Colour 2 – 10 ends (Burgundy)

Center

The warp for the Center of the placemats uses Colour 2 and a natural hemp yarn.

Threading:

Colour 2 – 54 ends

Natural – 54 ends
rep weave

Weft

For the thick weft, you can use a thick cotton mop yarn. Or you can combine several 8/2 cotton or cotton chenille yarns together. These can all be the same colour, or for different colour effects, try mixing several different colours. For the thin weft, use either 1 strand of 8/2 cotton or 20/2 cottolin.

Weave in Tabby with 2 shuttles, alternating between thick and thin wefts, to create a ribbed weave effect.

Finishing

Cut the finished warp from the loom and zig-zag stitch the ends to prevent fraying. Wash in warm water and machine dry.

Iron the warp and then cut the placemats to 18″ lengths. Sew bias tape to finish the edges.
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Weaving Patterns

Twill Tabby Towels
Hot Tub Towels
Paper Wallhanging
Wool Roving Rug

Handweaving Pattern Books

The Weaver’s Book: Fundamentals of Handweaving
UK: Fundamentals of Handweaving

Favorite Scandinavian Projects to Weave: 45 Stylish Designs for the Modern Home
A collection of 45 different furnishing textiles: colorful blankets, fanciful table runners, classic curtains, and embroidered hand towels.

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Peat moss: aa072104h

While I was attending the Dyers Week workshop in Finland, I learned about the use of peat to create new and interesting yarns. Peat moss is gathered and carded with wool, and spun into yarn that can be woven or knitted into garments. Peat can also be made into paper or used in feltmaking with wool. Although the cottongrass or peat plant has white wool-bearing heads, that isn’t what is used for the peat yarn, Rather it is the peat moss on the ground that is found between the soil and the roots of the plant. Eriophorum vaginatum grows, dies and sinks into the marsh. After many thousands of years the peat industry has gone into the marsh to dig up the peat moss. From the moss, the fibres that the peat industry doesn’t need is made into the yarn. The peat yarn is a by-product of the peat industry.

Some of these links are in Finnish or Swedish:
If you are using the Chrome browser, you can change the Settings to translate the pages to English.

Sheathed Cottonsedge, Eriophorum vaginatum
A good description of the peat plant.

Swedish Peat Producers Association
Peat mosses fibre length is about 5 – 20 cm, is fairly soft and can be blended with wool. Because peat has a hollow structure it is twice as warm as wool. Peat is absorbent, light and comfortable and is considered to have antiseptic qualities.

Unfortunately, these businesses listed are no longer in business or have been purchased by someone else. I do not have further contact information for them at this time. If I find peat moss fabric suppliers again, I will update this page.
Kultaturve – Eriotex
Kultaturve is the only producer in the world of materials and garments made from ERIOTEX® natural peat fibre yarn.

peat yarn

peat fabric

peat yarn

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These links are in Finnish:
If you are using the Chrome browser, you can change the Settings to translate the pages to English.

Fungi Dyes

Mushroom Dye Workshop
Mushroom Dye Recipes
Natural Dye Workshop
Print Making
Papermaking
Peat Textiles

Fungi Dye Books

Let’s try mushrooms for color
The first fungi dye book by Miriam Rice.
UK: Lets Try Mushrooms for Color

Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments, Myco Stix
UK: Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments

Mushrooms for Color
Fungi dyeing by Miriam Rice.
UK: Mushrooms for Color
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Charkha book style spinning wheel Vintage, Nice Condition!

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Weaving Project – Twill Tabby Towels: aa032503

These colourful 8 shaft teatowels make a nice spring combo for your kitchen. The towels are woven with 6/3 white cotton and bordered with a 1/2″ edge of natural unbleached cotton. The weft uses a single ply dyed hemp yarn. You may substitute with a No. 10 or No. 12 single ply linen.

The towels are woven to a length of 26″ each. Weave the background twill for 16 picks, then weave the pattern tabby blocks for 12 picks. Add some variety to the towels by using different coloured weft yarns, in solids or stripes.

Finishing:

Remove the finished warp from the loom. Machine wash, dry and iron. Cut the towels to length. Using Twill tape, fold and sew a loop for hanging at the end of the towel and machine stitch the hems.

twilltabtowel.jpg, 62483 bytes

Closeup of woven towels

twilltabby.jpg, 105102 bytes

Weaving Draft
twilltab.jpg, 67567 bytes

No. Ends: 324 6/3 cotton yarn

Border: 16 ends Natural cotton

Centre: 308 ends White cotton
Sett: 16 epi
Width in Reed: 20 inches
Finished Width: 18 inches
Warp Length: 6 yards
Weft: Hemp Yarn – Single Ply

Substitute: No. 10 Linen Singles

Maurice Brassard – Leclerc Looms
Linen from Belgium

Weaving Patterns

Hemp Rep Placemats
Linen Towels
Hemp Towels
Hot Tub Towels

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Weaving Project – Hemp Towel: aa082502

This project uses 3 ply natural and 1/2 bleached hemp as warp (1500 ypp). The red coloured blocks are 22/2 cottolin. If you don’t have any hemp available, you can substitute with 22/2 cottolin for the complete warp. The weft is natural single ply hemp. Again, you may substitute with a singles linen.

This design works well as towels or as placemats. The blocks and stripes are very versatile and the design can be easily altered by increasing or decreasing the number of blocks or their size. This is a doubleweave structure where the warp threads create design blocks that are reversed on the back of the cloth.

hemp towel

REVERSE

Weaving Draft

towel weaving draft

 

Sett 24 epi
Width 20 inches
Takeup and shrinkage – 15%
Warp Length 4 yards
Warp Yarns Natural Hemp – 775 yards
Bleached Hemp – 775 yards
Red Cottolin – 368 yards
Weft Yarn Single Ply Hemp or Linen – 1600 yards
Threading
Border Edges 1.5 inches
Alternate Natural & 1/2 Bleached hemp
18 ends Natural Brown Hemp (D-Dark)
18 ends 1/2 Bleached Hemp(L-Light)
(Or substitute with a light & dark shade of cottolin)
The Dark Hemp is threaded on shafts 2 & 4
The lighter bleached hemp is threaded on shafts 1 & 3
This is a double weave structure. When woven the darker shade will show up on one side of the fabric and the lighter shade will be on the reverse.
Red Blocks Each Red Block is 1/2″ wide
12 Ends
separated by 8 ends of the natural/bleached hemp.
In this double weave structure, the 6 Red ends are threaded on shafts 5 & 7 and the natural hemp is threaded on shafts 6 & 8. This results in the red blocks showing up on one side of the fabric and the natural hemp on the reverse.
D-Dark Hemp
R-Red Cottolin
L-Light Hemp
R-Red Cottolin
D
R
L
R
D
R
L
RD
L
D
L
D
L
D
LRepeat this threading 3 times
for the 3 Blocks of Red
Total: 60 ends
Striped Centre Each Striped section is 1″ wide – 24 ends
with 20 ends of alternating Dark and Light Hemp
followed by 4 ends of Red Cottolin, creating a narrow pin stripe of red on the natural background.
To make wider towels, increase the number of pin stripes.
D
L
D
L
D
L
D
L
D
L
D
L
D
L
D
L
D
L
D
L
R
R
R
R
24 ends
Repeat this 11 times
for a width of 12″
288 ends
Repeat the threading for Red Blocks and Border in Reverse for the other side of the towel.
Border Edge 36 ends
Red Blocks 60 ends
Centre Stripes 288 ends
Red Blocks 60 ends
Border Edge 36 ends
Total 480 ends
Heddle Count 1 – 942 – 94
3 – 94
4 – 94
5 – 26
6 – 26
7 – 26
8 – 26

Weaving Patterns

Hemp Rep Placemats
Linen Towels
Hemp Towels
Hot Tub Towels

Weaving Books and Patterns

Linen from flax seed to woven cloth
Learn about flax cultivation, processing and spinning, natural and synthetic dyeing, and weaving and finishing linen cloth.
UK: Linen from flax seed..

Mastering Weave Structures
How to design threadings, channel the design power of the tie-up, and make the most of threading options, as well as understand fibers, setts, and color interactions.
UK: Mastering Weave Structures

The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs and Materials
This book covers basic subjects such as warping a loom and making bobbins of weft, as well as more elaborate, highly decorative projects: baby blankets, shawls, table cloths, and linen hand towels.
UK: Big Book of Weaving

..More Weaving Books..

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From Sting to Spin: book-edom

‘From Sting to Spin. A History of Nettle Fibre by Gillian Edom
Sting to Spin

This is the first book that has been written about the history of nettle fibre, apart from the Dunsmore books of course. These, however, relate purely to the Nepalese nettle, Girardinia diversifolia. Most of the history of my book is about the European Urtica dioica, but I have also written a little about the use of various nettle plants for fibre by the indigenous groups of North America and Canada.
The book has 68 pages and includes b & w and some colour pictures. It also contains a full reference list and index. The cost is £7, which converts to approximately $10. This would not include postage and packaging. If anyone would like to buy a copy of this book please write to:
Urtica Books,
16 South Way,
Bognor Regis,
West Sussex, England,
PO21 5HA

or email: gillianae at hotmail.co.uk. There are a limited number of copies available.

From Sting to Spin: A History of Nettle Fibre
UK: From Sting to Spin

Nettle Spinning

Nettle Yarn

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ANTIQUE UNIQUE WORKING SPINNING WHEEL SIGNED

$149.99
End Date: Saturday Dec-14-2019 16:44:57 PST
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Ashford traveler spinning wheel single drive

$187.00 (2 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Nov-24-2019 17:00:01 PST
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Charkha book style spinning wheel Vintage, Nice Condition!

$130.00
End Date: Friday Dec-20-2019 22:12:35 PST
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