Nettle fibre is made from the Himalayan giant stinging nettle Girardinia diversifolia known locally as allo. The allo plant grows wild in forest glades, edges and water courses at altitudes between 1,200 and 3,000m. It grows naturally in areas that would not be otherwise cultivated for food crops. It can grow up to 3m in height. The plants are harvested from August/September until December. The stems are harvested leaving enough of the plant to regenerate. A basket load 37.5kg of bark can be harvested in one day. This would comprise of around 370 stems each weighing up to 100g. From one 100g stem a maximum of 5g of dry fibre can be made.
The stems of the plant are cut then soaked in running water and then boiled for 2-3 hours, wood ash is added to the boiling water. and pulped. The pulp is dried and the fibres pulled apart ready for spinning. A hand spindle is used for spinning into yarn and is often spun on the move. The yarn is woven on traditional back-strap looms.
The plant has many other uses - the leaves can be cooked as spinach, it is also a source of fodder and medicine.
Nettle is a sustainable fibre source. The cloth is unbleached and hard wearing and no chemicals are used in either its growing or production.
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