To borrow from one of our previous blog posts about dyeing bamboo, the viscose type bamboo, or regenerated cellulose bamboo fiber, is the bamboo most people are familiar with. The production process is similar to paper production. The bamboo is ground into a pulp and then extruded through a spinneret. The spinneret forms the pulp into long strands which harden into the fibers. We have definitely given you the simplified version here. If you are interested in learning more, this is an excellent blog post about the manufacturing process of viscose rayon, which is almost identical to viscose bamboo. Viscose bamboo has a very soft lustrous look much like tencel and silk.
The bast bamboo process is very similar to the retting process used for flax production. The Handspinner’s Handbook by Bette Hochberg tells us that “bast fibers are taken from the center stalk of the plant. They are long fibrous strands found between the outer bark and inner core of the stem.” Bast bamboo has a similar feel to flax and linen and can be used in many of the same applications. Bast bamboo feels courser than viscose but softens with each wash and wear. Bast bamboo is ideal for creating light weight garments, and many choose to use bast for weaving because of its strength. One last great thing about bast bamboo is that it is less expensive to produce than synthetics and a renewable resource. For more information about bast bamboo please visit: http://bastfibersllc.com/home.html.
Pictured below: Viscose bamboo on the right, bast on the left.