Upcoming Hemp Classes

November 5, 2022

Grandma's Spinning Wheel, Tucson, Arizona


Time: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

For Information: Grandma's Spinning Wheel 6544 E. Tanque Verde, Ste 15C, Tucson, AZ

Hemp Zoom Lecture

"History and Importance of Hemp to Our Planet" is a 1-hour lecture available through Zoom for $200. To schedule, contact Joan at spincotton@yahoo.com

Hemp as a Fiber

Hemp is the common name for the fiber-yielding plant botanists call Cannabis sativa, “cannabis” and “canvas”. Also, cannabis hemp has been called Indian hemp, muggles, pot, reifer, grass, ganja, bhang, “the kind”, dagga, etc. There have been places all over America named after hemp, such as Hempstead County, AK, Hempstead, TX, Hemphill, N.C.,and Hempfield, P.A.

Researchers theorize that the first hemp plants came from the foothills of the Himalayas and that traders and migrating people spread the seed. The earliest known woven fabric was apparently made of hemp and it was as early as 8,000 or 7,000 BC. Hemp resists rotting and thus would play an important role in it being preserved over the years. Most historians agree from 1000 BC to 1883 AD, hemp was our planet’s largest agriculural crop and most important industry. Thousands of products were produced including fabric, lighting oil, paper, incense and medicines, plus essential food oil and protein for humans and animals. It was also used spiritually.

Why has cannabis hemp played such an important role in history? Over all it is the strongest, most durable, long lasting natural soft fiber on the planet. Its’ leaves and flowers were one of the most important medicines for at least 3,000 years, until the turn of the century. The real story of hemp is not a story of drugs however, but of “Fiber Wars”, an age-old battle for markets among alternative fibers. Cotton became a world power and is credited as the single greatest force in the early economic development of the U.S.

80% of mankind’s textiles were made principally from Cannabis hemp fibers until the 1820’s in America and until the 20th Century in most of the rest of the world. Ireland made the finest linens, not from linen but hemp fiber. It is hard to tell the difference. It was hemp that clothed the Continental Army and kept them from freezing to death at Valley Forge. Homespun cloth was almost always spun from the “family” hemp patch as America was moving west in their hemp canvas covered wagons.

Depending on the fineness desired, planting seeds close produced a fine fiber and further apart a coarser fiber. 200 seeds to the square yard was planted for rough cordage. Finest linen or lace is grown up to 900 plants to the square yard and harvested between 80 to 100 days. It was one of the easiest crops to grow and would grow just about anywhere and in any soil. It did not deplete the soil like many crops do.

After the invention of the cotton gin, cotton clothing could be produced at less cost then hand retting and hand separating hemp fibers. But due to hemp's strength, softness, warmth and long lasting qualities, hemp continued to be the 2nd most used natural fiber until 1930’s. But the coming of “plastic fibers” finally replaced natural hempen fibers.

Interesting point:“George Bush, while serving in W.W. II, baled out of his aircraft, lubricated with hemp seed oil, with a 100% hemp parachute and was pulled aboard a ship with hemp ropes and he stood safely in his leather shoes stitched with hemp.”

90% of all ship’s sails until late 19th century were made from hemp. So was the rope, nets, riggings, flags and even oakum (sealant) was made from hemp. The sailor’s clothing right down to their shoes were crafted from Cannabis hemp. Then there was the paper for maps, logs and Bibles, all made from hemp fiber. No wonder there were great wars, just to keep the trade routes open for hemp fiber. In fact in 1942 the U.S. government distributed 400,000 lbs of cannabis hemp seed to American farmers to produce 42,000 tons of hemp fiber annually for the war effort until 1946, after Japan cut off our supply of Manila hemp.

In 1619, farmers in Virginia were required to grow Indian hemp. In 1631, the law passed that Massachusetts farmers also had to grow it...followed by Conn. and the Chesapeake Colonies. Hemp was used as legal tender (money) into early 1800s. You could pay your taxes with Cannabis hemp throughout America for over 200 years. U.S. Census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp “plantations” (min. 2,000 acres) growing hemp for cloth, canvas and even the cordage used for baling cotton.

Benjamin Franklin started one of America’s first paper mills with cannabis hemp. It was a cheap fiber, plenty of it and easy to replenish in one year, unlike the trees we use today. The forrest industry finally grew big enough to crowd out hemp fiber.

Botanically, hemp is a member of the most advanced plant family on Earth. It is a dioecious (i.e., having male, female and sometimes hermaphroditic) woody, herbaceous annual that uses the sun more efficiently than virtually any other plant on our planet. Hemp grows 12 to 20 feet tall in one short growing season. It is similar to flax as they are both a “soft” bast fiber found in the stem of the plant. They overlap in many characteristics. Botanically flax and hemp are dissimilar, yet to the naked eye the fiber looks the same. Hemp will rotate clockwise and flax rotates counter- clockwise upon wetting.

The conclusion in the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes is: "If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as the deforestation of trees for paper and agriculture, are banned from use in order to save the planet and reverse the greenhouse effect:Then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource able to provide the overall majority of our paper, textiles and food, meet all the worlds transportion, home and inductrial energy needs, to reduce pollution, rebuild the soil and clean the atmosphere, allat the same time, our old stand-by that did it all before: Cannabis Hemp!"

References for Hemp:


  • "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" by Jack Herer, 1995
  • "Hemp Today" by by Ed Rosenthal, 1994
  • "Hemp -Lifeline to the Future" by Chris Conrad, 1993
  • "Horizons" by John Roulac 1997
  • "Hemp Stone Heritage 1 - In Accordance with Their Wills" compiled by Les Stark (Lancaster, PA wills..1729- 1845)

Videos and On-Line Resources:

  • Hemp Spinning with Joan Ruane (see www.Taprootvideo.com)
  • "Introduction to Hemp Spinning" by Joan Ruane - YouTube
  • Hemp Hemp Hooray - The Growing Hemp Industrial Market (video available to stream on Amazon)
  • "Hemp and the Rule of Law" by Keven Balling - documentary tracing the agricultural history and efforts to legalize commercial hemp production
  • "Hempsters - Plant the Seed" documentary released in 2010 about legalization and includes footage about Woody Harrelson's 1996 arrest for planting 4 cannabis seeds in Kentucky. Available on Amazon
  • Vote Hemp is a Washington, DC based grassroots nonprofit organization working since 2000 to bring back hemp farming in the U.S. Check out their information at www.votehemp.com
  • www.hemptraders.com Telephone: 310.914.9557 Online retail sales of hemp fiber, textiles and rope
  • www.hempbasics.com Manufacturer's online retail sales offering a wide range of hemp products
  • YouTube Videos, use "Hemp Fiber" in the Search function

Fiber Sources:


9-15-2022 Costa Rica

Hemp farming and production licenses will be inexpensive and widely available in Costa Rica, according to regulations that have been approved by the government.

Cultivation and commercial licenses, renewable every six years, will be granted to farmers and other supply chain operators under the new rules, which were approved by President Rodrigo Chaves Robles and agriculture and health officials last week, according to a release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG).

Costa Rica’s rules set the limit for THC in hemp at a full 1.0%, meaning CBD production in the country will be more efficient because CBD rises in hemp plants in proportion to THC. Most countries around the world follow a generally accepted limit of 0.3% THC as a legal barrier, but some Latin American and Asian countries are adopting the 1.0% threshold as the dividing line between hemp and marijuana

9-2022 South Carolina

Gem Yield LLC of Aiken, S.C. has received $6.8 million in loan guarantees to develop an industrial hemp growing complex that will include a greenhouse facility and other buildings. The company, which is identified as a specialist in soil preparation, planting and cultivation, is among a total $63.3 million given to 26 projects by the U.S. Department of Agriculture across South Carolina to boost rural communities.

9-16-2022 USDA

This week, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the first round of grant recipients for its Climate-Smart Commodity Program...two projects selected will be receiving a combined total of up to $21 million for hemp research and development.

One recipient, Iconoclast Industries, LLC will receive up to $15 million for the project titled “Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Grain” spanning the states of Florida, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The project aims to expand climate-smart markets and remedy lack of available data on environmentally beneficial practices for hemp production by providing open-accessible data and training and enabling monetization of climate-smart practices through a pilot designation in a digital marketplace. Additionally, this project develops an inclusive workforce that specializes in implementation of climate-smart practices by engaging underserved producers and financially supporting them as they learn these practices.

9-10-2022 Pennsylvania & North Carolina

A Pennsylvania company said it plans to invest $10.9 million in a new hemp fiber processing facility in North Carolina. BIOPHIL Natural Fibers, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, said the facility, to be located in Lumberton, North Carolina, will turn out hurd and fiber for a wide range of applications.

Plans include the installation of processing lines that will clean, refine and cut hurd and bast fiber to client specifications, the company said. “North Carolina is the perfect place for BIOPHIL as our economy is deeply rooted in agriculture and manufacturing,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “With their commitment to sustainability and renewables, we believe this company will find great success in Robeson County.”

The factory is expected to employ 41 workers in production, administrative and managerial positions at an average annual salary of $40,122, according to BIOPHIL, with the potential to create an annual payroll of more than $1.6 million. BIOPHIL currently operates a hemp processing line comprising repurposed textile equipment and decortication technology at its flagship factory near Philadelphia.

North Carolina was the sixth biggest hemp producer in the U.S. last year when the state’s farmers harvested 1,850 acres after planting 2,150, according to the first-ever report on the crop from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), released in February. Fiber hemp accounted for 1,550 acres while North Carolina farmers grew just 77 acres of hemp for CBD in 2021, NASS reported.

9-2022 United States

A key cannabis bill now before the U.S. Senate would establish the legality of all forms of THC naturally present in hemp, adding varieties so far not addressed, then raise the overall limit for THC in hemp plants from 0.3% to 0.7%

9-11-2022 International

German and French researchers are studying new ways to extract cellulose from waste hemp fibers to make aerogels, high-tech materials that have a wide range of industrial uses. NASA uses aerogels for insulation in launch and shuttle vehicles, life support equipment, rocket engine test stands and hand and feet insulation for astronauts.

Commercial applications include pipe insulation, construction, appliances and refrigeration equipment, and automobiles, as well as consumer applications, such as apparel. Cellulose, which comprises 65%-75% of hemp fibers’ bio-chemical makeup, is particularly interesting due to its abundance, biocompatibility and because it can be obtained from waste resources.

Kentucky & Pennsylvania

Kentucky's HempWood and Pennsylvania's Cedar Meadow Farm have received USDA funding through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. HempWood has teamed up with Lincoln University to scale the hemp supply chain for fiber and fuel, while Cedar Meadow Farm is working to develop the fiber and grain sectors of the hemp industry.


A study by Oregon State University found that spent hemp biomass is not only safe to use as an ingredient in lamb feed but also that its nutritional benefits equal that of alfalfa and is perhaps more easily digestible. The findings are encouraging to hemp farmers, as hemp biomass typically has low economic value.


The Thai Industrial Hemp Trade Association has partnered with 12 manufacturing industries to promote hemp innovation. The cooperation agreement includes collaboration for the Asia International Hemp Expo scheduled for Nov. 30 through Dec. 3.

Remember Joan’s Hemp Lecture on Zoom is available to guilds and schools! Click the link for information.