The Fiber Files

The Fiber is Out There

Episode 3 – Bamboo: Green or Not?



Santa Fe trip – Favorite places
Horseman’s Haven
Tragedy Strikes – Forgotten Yarn

What’s on the Wheel

Sadly nothing new due to forgotten fiber on vacation
Knitting – a trio of dishcloths for Grandma Molly
Mobius Wrap in Terra by The Fibre Company in the colorway Henna
Cat Bordhi is a genius!

Desperate Longing

Wrapped in Fire batt from Bohoknitterchic Etsy Shop

Prime Investigation:

Bamboo: Green or Not? a suggestion from PippensNaNa on Ravelry
Bamboo is:
  • a grass and not a tree
  • found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot  regions
  • bamboo just might be the world’s most sustainable resource
  • It is the fastest growing grass and can grow a yard or more a day
  • Bamboo is ready for harvesting in about 4 years
  • Bamboo does not require replanting after harvesting because its vast root network continually sprouts new shoots
  • bamboo does this the natural way without the need for pesticides and fertilizers
Processing for Fiber
  • two methods by which bamboo may be processed into fiber for fabric, both developed in China.
    • mechanical process similar to that used to process flax or hemp; the stalks are crushed and natural enzymes break them down further, allowing fibers to be combed out
    • process by which rayon is made where the fibers are broken down with chemicals and extruded through mechanical spinnerets
  • Chemical processing
    • Traditional
      • “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching
      • This is basically the same process used to make rayon from wood or cotton waste byproducts. Because of the potential health risks and damage to the environment surrounding the manufacturing facilities, textile manufacturing processes for bamboo or other regenerated fibers using hydrolysis alkalization with multi-phase bleaching are not considered sustainable or environmentally supportable.
      • the Canadian Competition Bureau and the US Federal Trade Commission, as of mid-2009, are cracking down on the practice of labeling bamboo rayon as natural bamboo fabric. Under the guidelines of both agencies these products must be labeled as rayon with the optional qualifier “from bamboo”
    • Lyocell Process
      • The lyocell process, also used to manufacture TENCEL®, uses Amine oxides.
      • Lyocell processing is substantially healthier and more eco-friendly because the amine oxides are reported to be non-toxic to humans
      • The chemical manufacturing processes are closed-loop so 99.5% of the chemicals used during the processing are captured and recycled to be used again
      • Only trace amounts escape into the atmosphere or into waste waters and waste products.

Contest Winner

The Winner of Episode #1’s Contest for the Wild Fibers Magazine is:  Peacecat30 from a comment left on the show notes blog.  She would like to hear more about cormo in the future. This April I’m heading home in Montana and hope to interview a few ranchers that I know that raise cormos.  We should get some great insights to the breed and fiber.
Thanks for listening and commenting.  I really love the positive feedback.  Thanks also to those leaving ratings and comments on iTunes.  This helps others looking for spinning and fiber podcasts find The Fiber Files.


Wikipedia for bamboo background
posted under Show Notes
2 Comments to

“Episode 3 – Bamboo: Green or Not?”

  1. Avatar March 19th, 2010 at 10:13 pm Brittany Says:

    Thanks for mentioning my batt! Great info about bamboo too!

  2. Avatar August 21st, 2010 at 12:26 pm Lisa Says:

    this was a great episode – bamboo is one of my favorite fibers, specifically blended with merino – I was really glad to hear all the info you shared! Love the podcast – definitely going to leave you a 5-star rating on iTunes