=Hemp= is a fiber that is obtained from the hemp plant. It grows
principally in Russia, Poland, France, Italy, Asia, India, the
Philippines, Japan, and some parts of the United States--Kentucky,
Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and New York. The original country
of the hemp plant was doubtless Asia, probably that part near the
Caspian Sea. The preparatory treatment is similar to that for the flax
plant, except that most of the work is done by machinery. Considered
chemically, in addition to cellulose, hemp fiber contains a
considerable amount of woody matter, differing in this respect from
cotton. Its properties are color (pearl gray, with green or yellow
tints), fineness (which depends upon the quality of the hemp; it is
usually bought as fine as flax), and tensile strength (which is
considerable and greater than that of flax). Its best qualities are
its slight luster and its ability to resist to a great extent the
tendency to rot under water. Owing to the fact that it is difficult to
bleach, it is used chiefly in making string, cord, ropes, etc.
=Sisal Hemp.= Sisal hemp is a variety that grows extensively in
Central America and the West Indies. The plant, the agava rigida, is
similar to what is known in this country as the century plant. The
fiber is found in the leaves which closely surround the stalks. The
common hemp on the other hand is found closely surrounding the woody
part of the stem. The fiber of Sisal hemp is obtained by scraping away
the fleshy part of the leaves with large wooden knives or by machines.
=Manila Hemp.= Manila hemp is obtained in the Philippines. The plant
belongs to the banana family and grows as large as a small tree. The
hemp is obtained from the leaf stalks which appear to form the trunk
of the tree. The fiber is larger, not so stiff, but stronger than
Sisal hemp. The fiber of Russian hemp is the strongest; that of
Italian hemp the finest.
=Jute.= Jute is the name given to the fibers found in certain plants
which grow principally in India, and the East Indian Islands. The
common jute comes principally from the province of Bengal, India,
where it was first known to science in 1725. The term jute was first
applied to the fiber by Dr. Rosburgh in 1795. The plant is cut just
about the time when it appears in full flower. The stalks are then
bundled and retted by steeping in pools of stagnant water.
Jute occupies third position in importance of vegetable fibers in the
manufacturing scale, being inferior to cotton and flax. Hemp is
stronger than jute. Jute becomes weak when exposed to dampness.
It is extensively used for mixing with silk, cotton, flax, hemp, and
woolen fabrics. The coarse varieties are made into coarse
fabrics--sacks, packing cloth, etc., while the finer varieties, in
which the undesirable quality of growing darker with age is less
apparent, are used for making carpets, curtains, and heavy plushes,
for which they are very suitable.