[Sca-cooks] flax processing (was Bread labor)
Stefan li Rous
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Tue Nov 13 22:51:18 PST 2007
<<< Thanks, Jadwiga. I think what I was remembering was that the fibers
were very coarse until more modern methods of retting, etc were
developed, so it was used primarily for cordage and rough cloth. >>>
Okay, I think you earlier had said that help wasn't used for fabric.
I'm afraid I haven't had the time to reply in detail on this in the
last few days. I'm glad Jadwiga did. Hemp cloth was definitely used
for rough cloth. It was what the original "canvas" was made of.
Notice the similar/same root as for cannabis. Cotton canvas takes
it's name from it's similarity to the previous canvas, although it is
not as tough nor does it withstand rough environment as well.
Unfortunately, since almost all canvas cloth has to be imported to
the US, it costs a bit more than cotton canvas. I had wanted to make
my pavilion out of hemp canvas, but the cost, particularly because of
the large amount needed, was too far out of my budget.
From this file:
hemp-cloth-msg (27K) 7/ 5/02 Cloth and clothing made with hemp
Along with linen and nettle fabrics, several hempen textiles have been
excavated in Viking archaeological contexts. The one I remember best
lady from mid-tenth century Birka (Grave 837) who was buried in a
wool caftan lined with hempen cloth and trimmed with silk samite.
Birka lady, from the early ninth century (Grave 619), was buried in a
garment that included a strip of beaver fur trimming that was lined with
another hempen cloth.
As for texture, these Birka hemp fabrics are at the high-quality side
range of fineness for linen fabrics at the same site in the same
They are emphatically not burlap: both the cloths mentioned above were
about the same fineness as silk noil in their thread counts (15x15
per centimeter, compared with 20x20 per centimeter for the last piece of
good-quality silk noil I counted).
Like linen, hemp is hard to dye with most of the Viking Age dyes. Very
probably, it was usually used like linen: either undyed or dyed blue
woad. (One of the other hemp textiles from Birka was dyed dark blue.)
I myself would treasure a hemp garment--for its authenticity as well
Carolyn Priest-Dorman Thora Sharptooth
This would also seem to contradict the idea that hemp cloth was just
used for rough cloth, which was my feeling until I reread this. It
also is one of the few bits of evidence I've seen that indicates
linen (or hemp) can be dyed with period dyes. So I can use by modern
dyed linen fabric for outer layer clothing for Pennsic's heat. :-)
<<< But, I've found a source of yarn, and am considering buying some to
play with- am currently dithering over plain hemp, or a hemp/wool
Unfortunately the above file doesn't have that many examples of
period hemp cloth use. What it does have are listings of a number of
merchants of hemp cloth. So if you are weaving your cloth as a
weaving experiment, then that is probably still worth it. If you are
doing it simply because it was the only way you thought you could get
some hemp cloth for other uses, then I would check out some of the
sources given in this file.
THLord Stefan li Rous Barony of Bryn Gwlad Kingdom of Ansteorra
Mark S. Harris Austin, Texas
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at: http://www.florilegium.org ****
More information about the Sca-cooks