Hemp stalks were harvested and temporarily laid down in ditches or ponds adjacent to the fields. Here commenced the decomposition process called “retting”. Bacteria would break down the bast fibres so that they separated. Then the stalks were dried and treated in a so called “breaker” in order to soak off the inner wood core. After having been broken, the fibre bundles were beaten with a piece of flat wood to eliminate the final bits of wood core. Subsequently the fibres were hackled, i.e. pulled across steel “brushes” (hackles) of various sizes. De hackled fibres were twisted into ropes or spun into fine yarns. Farmer’s wives and weavers would turn these hemp yarns into fabric.