I’m spinning into thread the nettle fibers that nature grew and I harvested this summer. (Head over here if you want to read Part I about harvesting and processing stinging nettle fiber.)
What I had at the end of the summer was a bundle of wispy fibers extracted from stinging nettle stalks. Because I was doing this for the first time and had not figured out the ideal length of retting time, there was definitely still a lot of green plant matter (cellulose) from the nettle stalks adhering to some of the fibers. In August, over the course of a few evenings, I carded this silvery green mass using hand carders, and managed to separate a lot more of the fibers from the chaff.In the end I held in my hands fluffy tufts of spinnable fiber from plants that I’d collected myself from woods and meadows on our family’s land!!!
Those who know me know that that’s the sort of thing that makes me almost burst with excitement, my face beaming and my heart pounding and way too giddy to go to sleep.
The actual spinning of the nettle fibers, it turns out, takes some patience. It’s quite comparable to spinning flax, in that the fiber lacks the crimp of wool, so having that analogy helped me to get the hang of it. I actually tried combining the nettle fiber with some silk, but in the end I went ahead and spun pure nettle thread. Since I hadn’t been able to get rid of all the green matter, now my nettle thread has light green color mixed with its linen-like off-white. Maybe the purists wouldn’t approve, but I love how it looks.
What will I make with my nettle fiber, you ask? I may be able to spin enough to then weave into a scarf once I get the small loom I’m dreaming of. Or I could make a crocheted bra. Doesn’t every girl need a crocheted nettle bra? But whatever I end up making, it’s literally going to be clothing that grew in a forest.