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Nettle-A-Long, harvesting stinging nettle yarn

 
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Today I had a wonderful meeting with a papermaker.  We talked about hemp, flax, and how the papermaking group is transforming invasive species into useful things.  I'm hugely impressed with their work.  

The conversation turned to nettles.  I had some nettle skins I had stripped in years past that I forgot to hide out of sight.  So we got to talking about it.  One of the things with making paper is the difficulty in separating the fibres from the woody part of the plants.  Stripping the skins of the nettles solves this problem.

I sent some home with her to test.  Things are busy, so it will probably be a few months before we hear the results.  But the method sounds a lot like how some places process nettle fibre for yarn.  Boil the material in an alkali solution remove anything, not cellulose.  Then process the results into the desired form.  
 
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I'm so glad I found this thread! My crafty friend heard about nettle yarn and told me aboutbit and now I'm taking some baby steps in play with them.

I just harvested a bundle - maybe 20 or so stems - last week. They were about 4 feet tall and sun-grown. Still early in the season too. Having not researched fully beforehand (I browsed this forum and watched the Russian man's amazing video), I dried them on our metal roof. I think in the future I'd go for processing green, though I'd like to try dew-retting and we have a beaver-dammed stream that might be perfect for water retting.

I'm a little nervous about how to proceed with this batch, but then again it's not like I have a scarcity of nettle plants to work with!
 
r ranson
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My nettle patch is destroyed by someone coming on to our property and mowing it down (again!).  

No nettle-a-long for me this year.

But the nettles I harvested earlier made a lovely paper!  So that's something.  
 
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Oh no, Raven!!! What nerve.

I'm excited to hear about the paper results, though. Do you have picture(s), by any chance?
 
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I was reading a collection of Hans Christian Anderson stories, and ran across one that I just had to mention here, as a crucial plot point point is the making and spinning of flax from nettle!

Of course, things are a bit different from my own experience of spinning nettle (as I never got stung), but reading about nettle spinning in a fairy tale was still really cool!

Super short summary of the story: King marries evil stepmother-queen. She's jealous of his eleven sons and one daughter. So she turns the princes into swans (they are only human during the night), and makes the king think the princess is ugly and so he casts her out. Princess reunites with her 11 brothers. And, then she dreams of Morgana:

“Your brothers can be released,” said she, “if you have only courage and perseverance. True, water is softer than your own delicate hands, and yet it polishes stones into shapes; it feels no pain as your fingers would feel, it has no soul, and cannot suffer such agony and torment as you will have to endure. Do you see the stinging nettle which I hold in my hand? Quantities of the same sort grow round the cave in which you sleep, but none will be of any use to you unless they grow upon the graves in a churchyard. These you must gather even while they burn blisters on your hands. Break them to pieces with your hands and feet, and they will become flax, from which you must spin and weave eleven coats with long sleeves; if these are then thrown over the eleven swans, the spell will be broken. But remember, that from the moment you commence your task until it is finished, even should it occupy years of your life, you must not speak. The first word you utter will pierce through the hearts of your brothers like a deadly dagger. Their lives hang upon your tongue. Remember all I have told you.” And as she finished speaking, she touched her hand lightly with the nettle, and a pain, as of burning fire, awoke Eliza.



I copied that from:https://andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheWildSwans_e.html (which has the whole story, though my version names the princess Elise). I really didn't feel like trying transcribe it myself!

The princess manages through great trials and lots of rashes and hard work to make the 11 coats of nettle mail, and saves her brother. So, it looks like spinning flax into gold isn't the only magical spinning in fairy tales!
 
                            
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Hello all, want to share this video we made of the community I work with for the last few years. We are trying to keep alive this ancient skill from Nagaland. This is the beginning.



I need help on finding the right Latin name for the plant.

Please guide how I could go about it.

Regards,
Ritika
 
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Sean Pratt wrote:great thread! i didnt know much about nettles for cordage before this. My girlfriend crochets constantly and im starting to relies how many things we could make 100% off our land if i just had a fiber crop of some sort. so far no luck with nettles. Kai me and Sara sowed some seeds in a local wet spot and i haven't seen any plants yet . but when we do have some nettles be sure we will be Nettle-A-Long with you!



Sean, I have stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) growing here in the Catskills region of upstate NY - it often grows in excess of 6' tall, which is great for a fiber plant of such strength! - anyway, I never find it to be growing in a specifically "wet," i.e. perennially inundated, location. It seems to thrive best in regular garden soil with adequate drainage. It even seems to be comparatively tolerant of long spells of hot, dry weather, probably owing to its being perennial and having a well developed root system...

There are other species of nettle that are lower growing (i.e. Wood Nettle) and seem to prefer wetter, shadier woods... not Stinging Nettles, though, so if you are still having difficulty growing it, try a sunny, well drained locale.

Hope that helps! Glad to see so much interest in this plant that has so much to offer, from food, to medicine, to fiber...


In Awe,

Joe
 
Joe Krein
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Thebvo Project wrote:I need help on finding the right Latin name for the plant.

Please guide how I could go about it.

Regards,
Ritika



Ritika - the plant in the video is named as Stinging Nettle, and looks to me to be exactly that: Urtica dioica

In Awe,

Joe

 
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I just recently came across info that describes the many uses of nettles, from highly nutritious food, to medicine, to fiber for yarn or cordage that can be soft or rough. Finding this thread gives me hope that I am not the only one with such an interest. I'm at least 3 years away from my own first attempt, but I'm watching this thread until then.
 
Cindy Haskin
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r ranson wrote:

I put out my retting this week, including some nettles I harvested a while back.




Hey R! I see that you seem to have pulled those nettles up root and all. Did you use the roots in your yarn? Did you ever get that far? I've read that stinging nettle roots are good for prostate problems, a men's medicinal! If I will be able to use the roots in yarn, I'll need to gather more for an annual supply of roots for such uses as I might foresee as a medicinal.

Then the next question, if you did spin it into yarn, how much did this bundle produce? Any specific uses you can see being best for the fiber?

Thanks for the input. Merry Kiss A Moose!
C
 
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Hi Cindy. Great! I just needed more information on retting nettles for fiber. So please go on, with more photos and written information on what you do too.
I have my harvested nettles lying in a wet place here. But I don't now if I do it the right way. And I can't find the needed info, such as 'how long do they need to ret?' or 'how do I treat the stems after retting?'  

Edit: now I see those photos were r.ranson's, not Cindy's. So, please, r., could you tell me where to find more info?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Zack Walker wrote:Happy to find this thread, I did my own experiment this fall and wanted to report back.

My Nettle Processing Album on Imgur
I attached all the pics to this post in case the link dies, first time posting so hope it works ok.

Some high points:
...


Now I found this post, with nice photos. I think my nettle stems are in a wet place much too long now ...
No problem. Lots of stinging nettles growing in my region!
 
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Just curious if anyone has any good information for working with dead/mostly dry nettles. A lot of the info here and online seems to involve green nettles. I picked a bunch of dead ones from the pasture this week and am hoping to make some thread or rope with them.
 
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Earlier in this thread, R mentioned Yarn from Wild Nettles: A Practical Guide. The author is in what she describes as a cold northern European climate. She harvests the plant when dried in the winter. If you are in a similar climate, this method may work for you too.

This video may get you started.  Sarah Corrigan is using dogbane in this video, but I assume the Nettle fiber would look similar if it is at the right stage to process. Note that the resulting fiber is probably too course for fabric, further carding wold be needed for fiber thgat is soft to the touch.
 
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