Natural fibers - Part 2

NOW THAT THE SUPER POWERS OF PROTEIN FIBERS HAVE NO SECRETS FOR YOU , it's the turn of cellulosic fibers to come under our microscope!

Anatomy of “plant” wool:

Plant fiber is a threadlike, dead cell expansion, mainly composed of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignins, and pectins.

The use of plant fibers by humanity dates back thousands of years, well before fibers of animal origin, man already mastered how to make, spin and weave from plants. According to archaeologists, the earliest evidence of herbal weaving dates back to the Paleolithic 40,000 years ago.

The cotton

The cotton plant is a shrub native to India, cultivated in many warm countries for the fibers that surround the seeds when the fruit matures.

It seems certain that the use of cotton worked by man spread from India to the Middle East, then Egypt and the rest of the world. By the end of the 16th century it had spread to warmer regions in America, Africa and Eurasia.

Until the 18th century, in the United States, all operations in the cotton sector were done by hand thanks to the abundant labor provided by black slavery. Gospel, blues and jazz were born in the cotton fields.

Today cotton is the most produced natural fiber in the world, if we look at its properties it is easy to understand the reason:
1. Cotton is hypoallergenic
2. The fiber is soft, comfortable and flexible
3. It has good air permeability: it allows the skin to breathe
4. Cotton has good absorbency (around 8.5% of its weight in water)
5. Its maintenance is easy

Despite its many qualities, cotton has certain disadvantages:
1. It is sensitive to moisture and can quickly grow mold quickly if stored improperly.
2. It tends to shrink (10%). It is therefore advisable to wash your sample well before starting your project!
3. It doesn't provide much insulation and won't be the material of choice for a (Canadian) winter sweater
4. Its lack of elasticity can make this material difficult for beginners to knitting.

Unfortunately, cotton production is seriously detrimental to nature. The cotton plant is subject to several parasites, viral and bacterial diseases as well as
attacks from insects and mites. This results in intensive use of pesticides (around 16% of global pesticide production). The cotton plant also requires a
large quantity of water so irrigation of crops can ruin an entire region as was the case with the ARAL SEA .

As a result, La Maison Tricotée has decided to favor organic cotton. The production of organic cotton remains marginal (0.1% of world production) but is growing because it generates more income for its growers. I ATTACH YOU AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON THIS SUBJECT .


From the Linaceae family, flax is an annual herbaceous plant that is grown in temperate regions.
It is the oldest fiber in the world and historically one of the first species cultivated in Egypt and Persia. It was intended for multiple uses: clothing,
funerary fabrics and boat sails among others. Thanks to the Phoenicians, great navigators of Antiquity, flax cultivation spread to Europe.

In the 17th century, the use of linen reached its peak then its cultivation was gradually replaced by large imports of cotton from the end of the same century!

Properties of linen:
1. Linen has great resistance.
2. It is a champion at absorbing moisture.
3. It gives a soft, light and comfortable fabric. Very pleasant in hot weather.
4. It gets better with use: stiff and difficult at first touch, it softens from the first wash.
5. Lace shawl knitters like it because it “blocks” perfectly and defines patterns well.


Hemp, or Cannabis sp., of the Cannabinaceae family, is an annual herbaceous plant. Cannabis sativa is cultivated for its stem (textile fiber), its seeds (hemp
for birds and oil). Indian hemp, Cannabis indica, is used for its hallucinogenic smoke. In fact, these are only two varieties that differ in the content of psychotropic substances. The active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol which ranges from 0 to 0.2% for authorized varieties to more than 10% for varieties used as a drug.

Hemp was widely used in the past. Like linen, it has been around humans since the Neolithic. However, it was gradually banned or heavily regulated in
during the 20th century due to its psychotropic properties. Notably, in the United States, where Puritan propaganda, seeing the failure of prohibition, was interested in
cannabis, helped by various industrial lobbies (cotton, paper, oil, nylon) and regulated its use.

In the 18th century, hemp was used to make fabrics for the home and clothing. Spinning is often done at home using a distaff. The finest yarns are used for linens and garments. To this end, they are blanched in boiling water poured over ashes (this operation is repeated several times).

The maritime industry is one of the main outlets for this culture » In particular for sails and ropes. A sailing ship used several tons of hemp-based ropes.

The characteristics of hemp are very similar to those of flax:
1. High resistance
2. Good absorbency
3. Hemp clothing is soft and firm.

Like cotton, it is a fiber that allows the skin to breathe well. On the other hand, like the majority of plant fibers, it lacks elasticity.

In the next article the luxurious silk!

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