Monday, August 20, 2012

The Happy Hempist

Legalize it, don't criticize it! In case there were any doubt, let me say it:  I am a weed proponent. I approve legalizing marijuana, for any use. More, I dislike marijuana criminalization. I hope the laws against growing it, and using it, and imprisoning people for growing it, or using it, will change.  Even so, using the hemp to weave, was a bad trip for me.

My first, and long ago bad experience, involved a ball of knotty hemp macrame twine, created in Poland, I bought, hoping to make it work as a warp. I managed to form it into a small set of knotty rag potholders on my loom, and could, and did say, never again.

So I've been a doubter concerning hemp's popularity in recent years, until I saw Elisabeth Hill's (Plain Weave and Beyond) blog post about her waffle weave hempen towels, and the beauty of working with the yarn as warp. Never say never. I ordered some right away.

It arrived, a hunky cone of 7000 + yards at an economical price, to boot.  I have since built two scarfs with the fiber as warp, using my usual mix of linen, cotton, silk, and now hemp, for wefts, and it is lovely, and a lovely weaving experience. Thank you, Elisabeth.

The yarn looks a little hairy, but moves smoothly through heddles and reed, and its color and quality is linen-like, more than cottony. In the finished scarf it is soft, and comfortable to wear.






  You don't have to take my word for it--you can trust hers. Here is what Elisabeth said about hemp.  She is a weaving phenomenon in Western Massachusetts, where she just received her Master Weaver certificate.  Her weaving is beautiful, exploring many different weave structures, textures, and colors, with curiosity and imagination.  I have learned so much from her.

12 comments:

Alicja said...

Nice scarf Susan - never say never ;-)
And thanks for sharing a link to Elizabeth's page. Her handwovens are amazing.

Greetings
Alicja

barbindell said...

Nice!!!! Can't wait to wash mine and see how it looks.

Joanne said...

There simply isn't anything quite like natural fibers...the hemp works into a lovely piece. Glad you went back to it.

saskia said...

the scarf is beautiful!! and I like your tale of trials and doubts and how you overcame them.

re the weed: here in Holland our criminal laws distinguish between hard and soft drugs, marijuana is considered a soft drug and having a certain amount on you isn't considered criminal; for many years this has worked well in our small country: the people here have been quite laid back about using it or not; however the growers have not been sitting still and this has meant that the active parts of these soft drugs has increased so much that there is doubt these days as to how soft they still are; especially young men are at risk and there is a significant relation between the (ab)use and the occurence of psychotic episodes, although it's not quite clear if people at risk are more inclined to use marijuana or use induces pychoses.....a cautionary tale and as a mother of two healthy sons I would very much like them to stay that way and refrain from using, although I do realise somerwhere along the line they will do some experimenting and leave it at that, as did I.........

textilepractice said...

hmmm, after seeing these it would be difficult to pass by a hemp bobbin without grabbing it (specially when there is the whole internet shop with only hemp yarn). can't say much about the weed form of it, but the fiber form of it is definitely appealing to me :)

Susan said...

Thanks, Saskia. I've wondered how the Dutch drug laws were working, good or bad? It's complicated, but laws that criminalize possession, as we do in the US, are often selectively enforced against poor people, and particularly against black men. It is a waste of people's lives, spent in jail for non violent marijuana crimes. That is my main reason for legalization, for all uses, including medical marijuana, which is now legal in some US states.

jan said...

what an amazing weave! this looks gorgeous, and i would love to have it round my head.....mmmmmm. yeah, the legal situation regarding hemp is complex. having worked with young people for 20 years, i'm wary of both the effect of (any) substances on the brains/minds, and also am aware of how criminalisation affects people's lives. either way, it's not a positive experience. but; all in all, hemp had been used for millenia, for both fabrics, and smoking. and i think if you compare it's use with alcohol, it compares pretty well, overall. you can't weave lovely scarves with alcohol!

Susan said...

I appreciate your comment, Jan. Weaving is wonderful, and mind engaging, but so is conversation about political issues. At least, that is how I think. I agree that marijuana compares more favorably to alcohol use/misuse

(I'm having some trouble proving to the blogger comments that I'm not a robot today)

tremblinginsidethecocoon said...

I think that hemp should be legal to grow in the United States! I heard that the reason that it was outlawed was to increase the production and usage of petroleum based fabrics (I had always thought that it was the paper industry that was behind it.... but a friend went to the 'hemp museum' in Los Angeles, and they state there that it was the oil industry).
And..... as far as smoking it. I can honestly say that I have never met a violent/aggressive pot user.... I can't say the same about people drinking!
As far as fabric! You can't beat hemp!! Hard wearing, mildew/rot resistant..... as lovely as linen!

Susan said...

Julie, You should try weaving this Hemp Traders yarn.
I'm a believer!

As a woman, I avoided heavy drinking (men) at parties, rude, sloppy, pushy--but never had to worry about the pot smokers

tremblinginsidethecocoon said...

I bookmarked the link .....
No money right now, what with the broken arm and Emily's wedding next month..... but once I have some spare cash I'll order some, it looks really nice!

Karina Rios said...

Hello Susan
What thickness is the hemp you have bought? Looks so beautiful.