Ramié is a vegetable textile fiber. It is white, fine and shiny, and therefore very similar to silk, so much so that it is also called vegetable silk, or, as we like to say, vegan silk. It is also known as Chinagrass.
Ramié Tops (right) and Mulberry Silk Tops (left)
It is extracted directly from the trunk of two types of plants: Boehmeria Nivea and Boehmeria Tenacissima. A tree of these species can reach the height of 2 to 3 meters, and because it grows very fast, it is cut at the base at least 3 or 4 times a year.
It is really expensive to get this fiber, because the branches of the plant are so thick that they are impossibile to macerate. As a consequence, the first step of the process consists in removing the bark. After that, what you get is raw ramie.
Once the raw material is obtained, another step is necessary before the fiber can be used. In order to separate the vascular bundles, the fiber needs is treated with chemicals, namely a lye bath, for at least 24 hours. After this treatment, the fibers are put into neutralizing baths, then rinsed, oiled and dried.
Ramié is grown primarily in China and India.
Its natural color is a shiny white and it is soft to the touch. One of its main features is a particularly long fiber, about 120mm. The average diameter is about 50 micron. It is a very elastic fiber and has a good resistance to twisting.
To make the fabric more resistant and shinier, it is often mixed with other fibers (natural or synthetic), such as cotton, hemp, wool, and viscose.
On our website, you can find Ramie in many wonderful colors.
Ramie can be spun but also used for needle and wet felting. For the latter technique, we have recently made a video with the famous artist Ruth Packham.