It was unexpectedly cold today, and I hoped I could get the Oompa Loompa to wear a sweater for more than 10 nanoseconds. I looked in the wardrobe and saw one of the many Baby Einstein sweaters (Ravelry page) that I knit out of Lion Brand Wool-Ease for now school-aged Curly Top. But when I reached for it, I got a nice surprise: it wasn’t Wool-Ease, it was hemp! Hemp for knitting allhemp6, to be exact. How I could I know this after having forgotten about the sweater altogether? Well, first I will blame pregnancy brain times two, and all you mothers out there will nod and instantly sympathize. Thank you. Second, I got that yarn in an unconventional way, which is apropos for an unconventional yarn.
In the US, hemp is still, stupidly, largely associated with marijuana. We have cheated ourselves out of many wonderful things in vilifying the hemp plant, as hemp fiber is so incredibly useful and resilient. Lana Hames was, I believe, one of the earliest sources for hemp knitting yarn in North America, and for her very first Stitches East conference as a vendor, she drove to Valley Forge, PA from Vancouver, BC. She put out a call on the famous old KnitList for shop help at the conference, and I answered. I got a crash course on her yarns so that I could answer questions, and (here’s the best part) I got paid in yarn. In addition to the yarn and pattern to knit a pullover (a variation on her current pattern #311 Border Fairisle, this incredibly nice lady gave me a sampler pack of her colored 100% hemp yarn. I held onto that yarn for a long time (I still have some!), but evidently, and I don’t remember actually knitting this, I knit a Baby Einstein out of two of the colors. One of the fabulous things about hemp yarn is that you can machine wash and dry it, and it just keeps getting softer and softer. It can be a bit stiff to work with on the needles – I remember the fair isle portion of the pullover for me being a bit hard on my hands. It’s a beautiful sweater though, and I love it still. So thumb your nose at convention and score yourself some hemp!