The stalks of the hemp plant consist of two layers: The outer layer is formed from rope-like bast fibers, and the inner layer consists of a woody pith. Only the outer layer of the Cannabis sativa stalk is used for textile purposes; the inner, woody layer is commonly used for fuel, building materials, and animal bedding.
Once the outer layer of bast fibers is stripped from the hemp plant, it can be processed and made into rope or yarn. Hemp rope is so strong that it was once the premier choice for rigging and sails on maritime vessels, and it remains renowned as an excellent material for clothing that surpasses cotton and synthetic textiles by most metrics.
More and more countries are embracing the mainstream cultivation of industrial hemp, which indicates that the modern renaissance of hemp fabric is nearing its zenith.
Once it is processed into fabric, hemp has a similar texture to cotton, but it also feels somewhat like canvas. Hemp fabric is not susceptible to shrinkage, and it is highly resistant to pilling. Since fibers from this plant are long and sturdy, hemp fabric is very soft, but it is also highly durable; while a typical cotton T-shirt lasts 10 years at the most, a hemp T-shirt may last double or triple that time. Some estimates suggest that hemp fabric is three times stronger than cotton fabric.
In addition, hemp is a lightweight fabric, which means that it is highly breathable, and it also effectively facilitates the passage of moisture from the skin to the atmosphere, so it is ideal for hot climates. It is easy to dye this type of fabric, and it is highly resistant to mold, mildew, and potentially harmful microbes.
Hemp fabric softens with each washing, and its fibers don't degrade even after dozens of washings. Since it's also relatively easy to produce organic hemp fabric sustainably, this textile is practically ideal for clothing.
While many changes have occurred in the arena of hemp cultivation in modern times, this plant has been an integral part of human agricultural endeavors since before the dawn of civilization. It's believed that this crop has been cultivated for medicinal purposes for at least 10,000 years, which means that it was one of the first plants to be cultivated by human beings.
However, the development of hemp fabric did not occur until the beginning of the Iron Age. It was, on the contrary, the psychoactive and medicinal properties of this plant that caused its cultivation to spread across Europe and Asia. With the dawn of the colonial era, hemp was brought to the Americas, and it was successfully cultivated in Chile as early as the 16th century.
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