In fields, farmers cut the stems and tear off the leaves. The stem is surrounded by bast or skin which is then collected and brought away for further processing.
The tool shown on the right has been used by ramie farmers for hundreds of years (even today) to scrape off the outer bark. This tool can be found in most households in Dazhu village. Immediately after recovering the fresh bast, the outer bark is scraped off with it. The remaining fibre is hung out to dry.
The raw fiber is then hung up to dry.
After the drying process the fibers are separated into small bundles which are then sold off.
Raw fiber inspection
Before the de-gumming process, the rough parts of the dried raw fiber are cut off.
The remaining, healthy raw fibre bundles are placed in a huge crate which is strung up and lowered into a huge vat filled with water and alkali. It is cooked for hours.
The traditional way of cooking fibre isn’t as preferable. The high temperature and alkaline solution can destroy the natural fibres’ strength and flexibility. The method was used a lot in the past which resulted in the fibre losing its natural resilience.
For premium ramie fibre, the well selected and prepared raw fibres are soaked in a biological enzyme solution for 7 to 10 hours, during which most of the hard parts of the raw fibres are consumed by bacteria. This is called biological de-gumming. Another quick cooking process loosens the last fibres still stuck together with gum.
After drying the fibre is treated with tea oil and is left in an aired room to rest for two weeks. The oil penetrates the fibre and nurtures it. During this time, the fibres’ elasticity is restored.
This machines shakes and loosens the fibres.
You will be amazed to see how the coarse china grass becomes long and shiny!
Normal ramie fibre only goes through 2 combings. We only use fibre that has been through at least 3 combings.
The amount of work just to arrive this far is amazing, but we still aren’t through. In the fibre picking room, workers carefully check projectors, searching for the final, hard piece in the fibres. Although it isn’t necessary to go through this stage, Anthyia only provides ramie yarns and fabrics with fibres that have gone through this final process.
The fibre left over from the combings will be mixed with cotton or viscose.