Hemp; the sustainable and renewable fibre for the future of the handmade rug industry

July 01, 2019

Hemp Tibetan rugs

To summarise:

  • Durable - with a long staple fibre length
  • Renewable - requires no herbicides or pesticides to grow 
  • Sustainable - is far less dependent on water, compared to cotton
  • Versatile - perfect for blends and adaptable to unique design

Hemp has long been used in the rug industry, from durable area rugs for high traffic areas to rugs that can cope with high moisture and mould. It is a supremely tough fibre with a long staple length and is surprisingly versatile. 

In the wake of climate change and the ever more prominent effects industries such as fashion and interiors are having on the environment, hemp in all its glory, has received a heap of deserved good press. We wanted to share with you our opinion as to why and what we think makes hemp fibre a particularly interesting addition to textile design and handmade rug industry.

We have championed the use of hemp in rugs since our first trip to Nepal, where we experienced rug weavers and hand knotters using the fibre in enthralling and engaging ways. Prior to the trip we always associated hemp with much less refined finishes, such as long-lasting shopping bags and 90s eco fashion. However when we came across the ingenious work of artisans with this fibre, it started us on a journey of discovery into the eye-opening world of hemp in rug design. 

Stripped right back to basics, the beauty of hemp fibre resides in the fact that it doesn’t need any environmentally damaging chemicals to grow, and in comparison to cotton, requires far less water to flourish. Another joy of Nepalese hemp is that is grows naturally in the mild and humid Nepalese Himalayas and provides rural communities with an income that doesn’t make use of arable land. Due to its illicit reputation, it is still illegal to plant hemp in Nepal, however harvesting it at its most natural is technically ok. 

Hemp fibres are the longest of the plant fibres and even outgrows flax. It is wholly renewable, is sustainable, and has very little impact on the environment - it’s a naturally occurring weed! Recent technological developments have allowed textile technologists, especially in the fashion industry, to start experimenting with hemp fibre as a sustainable alternative to cotton, but in the rug industry we are overwhelmingly happy with it, as it is. 

Hemp is surprisingly versatile. It can be blended, as seen in our Hemp and Tibetan wool Tibetan rug collection, and can be dyed with both natural and aniline dyes. Its long staple length means it can be manipulated to suit a whole host of designs, especially within Tibetan methodologies, and it’s beautiful, earthy colourings has served as inspiration across a multitude of interior designs and styles. See our Pinterest board here.

At the end of summer we look forward to launching our brand new rug collection, made entirely from hemp fibre. To find out more you can visit us at booth 10.31 in Hall 10 in Old Truman Brewery, at the London Design Fair in September from the 19th - 22nd. 


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