There are two alternative methods [in place of retting, which does not work]: an ancient hand technique, and a modern mechanical/chemical technique. Either way, the processing should begin within a few hours of cutting the stems, before the gum starts to harden and set. The Chinese handle one stem at a time and first peel all the fibers and bark off the stem in narrow strips. Then they scrape each strip with a dull blade, from butt to tip and back again from tip to butt, to remove the outer skin. Washed and dried, these strips turn into stiff yellowish or greenish ribbons called “China grass”, and they can be woven into coarse fabrics for work clothes. China grass has not been degummed, but if it is repeatedly washed, boiled in wood ash solution, and dried in the sun, it eventually gets softer, cleaner and whiter. The traditional Oriental approach to using ramie fibers was to weave China grass ribbons into fabric and sew it up, then continue the degumming process over the lifetime of the garment. Years of washing and wearing could transform a shirt from outerwear to underwear as the ramie softened up…Ramie grows best in very fertile, sandy loam soil, and needs plenty of composted manure or fertilizer to sustain repeated harvest. Full sun and frequent rain or watering are necessary.
Dippel's Oil (sometimes known as Bone Oil) is a nitrogenous by-product of the destructive distillation manufacture of bone char . This liquid is dark colored and highly viscous with an unpleasant smell. It is named after its inventor, Johann Conrad Dippel, the oil contains the organic base pyrrol.
Dippel's oil had a number of uses which are now mostly obsolete. These included medicinal uses , use as an alcohol denaturant, as an ingredient in sheep dips, as an animal repellent (tradenamed as "Renardine") and as an insecticide.
paul wheaton wrote:
Here's a nutty thought.
What if you can see some dried up nettle nearby. Standing dead. Couldn't you just use that like jute as is? I know that when doing the whole twine/net/rope thing you process the netlle a bit. But since this is for something in the garden and doesn't need to be fancy - maybe just grab some and use it as is?