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Subject:About Ramie

About Ramie

Postdate:2008-05-01 04:35:15   Hits:4280

 

What's ramie?

 

Ramie is a flowering plant which is native to Asia. It is harvested and processed to yield strong fibers, also called ramie, which are used in the production of textiles, twine,

upholstery, filters, and sacking. Like flax, jute, and hemp, ramie is considered a bast fiber crop, meaning that the usable portion of the plant is found in its connective tissue structures. The plant is widely cultivated in several Asian nations, which export ramie around the world.

The scientific name for the plant is Boehmeria nivea, and it is also sometimes called Chinese Grass. The plant grows in the form of stalks with heart shaped leaves which sprout up from an extensive underground root system. Ramie is in the nettle family, and it has the characteristic small silvery hairs associated with nettles, although the hairs do not sting. The ramie stalk can be harvested up to six times each year in favorable cultivating conditions, although three to four crops of ramie annually are much more common.

The plants must be extensively processed to yield ramie fiber. A series of beatings, washings, and chemical treatments extracts the usable part of the plant and de-gums the fiber so that it will be usable. Once processed, ramie can be spun into thread or yarn, and it is sometimes also blended with other textile materials to make it more versatile.

Pure ramie is very strong, resistant to mold and bacteria, lustrous, and it holds its shape very well. However, ramie is also stiff, not terribly elastic, and sometimes difficult to work with because it can be very brittle. In addition, ramie does not take dye very well. All of these shortcomings make ramie more expensive than similar plant fibers, such as linen. Although the material has been used in the production of textiles for thousands of years, many producers prefer to produce it in blends rather than using it plain.

 

Advantages of Ramie

High-quality ramie exhibits many desirable qualities. Its absorbs water and dries out more quickly than other fabrics. It's brilliance is unsurpassed among similar fabrics such as flax, hemp or jute. The fact that it is three times stronger than hemp increases its value for
home decor and clothing.

Ramie is resistant to insects and bacteria. Since it dries rapidly, mildew is not a problem. Like silk, its strength increases when dampened, and it absorbs dye readily. High water temperatures do not affect it, and repeated laundering only enhances its luster and softness.

Disadvantages

Even the highest quality ramie has shortcomings that create a challenge for decorators and manufacturers. Ramie lacks resiliency and elasticity. Variations in color from yard to yard prove undesirable in certain applications. Without the use of softening agents, fabrics made with ramie may be brittle and stiff. Pure ramie fabrics need ironing, since they wrinkle easily. Care must be taken to avoid creasing in order to prevent breakage of the individual fibers.


Ramie blends

 Blends of cotton, wool or other fabrics eliminate some problems. A fabric made of cotton and ramie, for example, will provide luster and strength while minimizing fiber breakage. When blending ramie with wool, ramie adds breathability to the fabric and decreases the possibility of shrinkage, while wool contributes a softer hand. Adding ramie to rayon will serve to counteract rayon's tendency to rip when wet.

Considerations

Ramie must be chosen with its ultimate purpose in mind. Cotton blends are best for fabrics that will withstand a good deal of folding and creasing. For wall coverings, pure ramie may be used in low-traffic areas, where there is little chance for abrasions. Ramie blends will hold up to frequent dryer tumbles better than pure fabrics. For home design accessories such as draperies, a blend may perform better due to ramie's tendency to fade in direct sunlight.

 

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