Before you have visions of joint-smoking hippies in itchy clothing fill your mind, let us clear the air about hemp first. It is a common misconception that hemp and marijuana are the same thing – they are not. Though they come from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa L., they are polar opposite varieties.
Marijuana provides smokers with that oh-so-enduring feeling of utter freedom thanks to a chemical called THC. “Hemp, also referred to as industrial hemp, are low-THC varieties of Cannabis that are grown for their seeds and fiber. Hemp is grown legally in just about every industrialized country except the USA,” says the Vote Hemp website.
Grown as a chief agricultural crop for thousands of years, industrial hemp is also one of the fibers the United States was founded upon:
- Thomas Jefferson made most of his money from farming hemp.
- The first sheets of paper and first pair of Levi’s jeans were made from hemp.
- In Early America, you could pay your taxes with hemp.
- The first American flag, made by Betsy Ross, was 100% hemp (and still survives to this day).
Knitwear made from hemp “will be soft and have an outstanding drape and incredible longevity,” says the Lanaknits website. Founded in British Columbia, Canada in 2000, Lanaknits has quickly become available in hundreds of stores worldwide and has been featured in a wide array of media outlets, including: Vogue Knitting Magazine, Interweave Knits Magazine, Stitch ‘N Bitch books, Knitty.com and uncountable others.
Started and fueled by Lana Hames’ passion for hemp fiber, Lanaknits is the foremost seller of high quality hemp yarns for knitters and crocheters. Worried about the itch factor? Hemp is a lot softer than most people realize. Also, similar to wool, every time you wash it, hemp becomes softer and more luxurious. Standing up to any cycle in a machine wash, hemp will not shrink, stretch, pill or fade. Lanaknits also makes hemp blends with wool, cotton, modal and cashmere. Your hemp yarn still a little stiff? Here’s a personal recommendation from Lana Hames: “Soak the 100% hemp skein in hot water and hair conditioner, air dry, wind into a ball, and knit away!”
Though you can purchase Lana’s yarns, project kits, accessories and patterns directly from the company website, she also advocates supporting your local yarns store. An extensive list of locations that sell her items is available on the site as well.
Who makes your favorite sustainable yarns?
Which natural fiber is your favorite to work with? (i.e. cotton, wool, bamboo, hemp … etc.)
Let us know what you love to create with and we might feature them in the next installment of Yearn-Worthy Yarns!