So this was interesting. Our July Guild meeting was held on a gorgeous farm in South Oxfordshire containing a workshop run by Alan, who taught us the basics of spinning fibre extracted from stinging nettles.
Alan is behind the nettle spinning movement and star of the below video, in which he takes you on the journey of collecting, preparing and harvesting the fire for spinning. Under his guidance and watchful eye, he had us picking nettles and extracting fibre, ready to spin, there and then- take a look below…
Fibre stripped from nettle stalk.
Dried and starting to separate into separate fibres ready to be spun.
Alan’s drop spindling of nettle fibre after carding- needless to say this was far better than my attempts!
In conclusion, this was a really interesting exploration of a historical material that has been spun for generations. It is probably safe to assume that I am not an easy convert due to the time differences involved with wool and other animal and plant fibres, but I am not ruling it our completely, especially as it grows freely (as well as rampantly), in my garden…
The finished cloth that Alan showed us was an exquisite surprise, and I can well understand how nettle fibre gained the name “Silk of the North” in its heyday.