The most beautiful handmade blended nettle and cotton textile made without dangerous chemicals by the hands of skilled artisans in India, paid a fair and living wage for their work.
Price per metre. Multiple quantities will be cut in a continuous length.
This fabric has a distinctive traditional "fishbone" pattern, that is clear and bold, though has a slightly tufty texture. The hand spun yarns are black and ecru, creating a warm appearance. The fabric is comforting and warming on the skin because of the fibrous surface.
The yarns have been finely spun so that there is exquisite tension and smooth surface to the cloth. The fishbone pattern calls for overlaying of warp and weft, creating a spongey feel with depth.
The nettle yarn has been spun double-ply, giving it added strength, and is further blended with non-certified organic cotton. The nettle yarn is natural and undyed with flecks of beige, and there is even some "chaff" - straw - from the nettle stalks. It is best not to pull these out to avoid pulling yarn with them, but they will break down and remove themselves within a few washes. The organic cotton contains the colour (azo-free dye).
With little to zero chemicals to grow and process, nettle is a good fibre for the land, farmers, yarn processors, and weavers.
The cotton is also grown locally using traditional organic processes, which means no chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides have been used in the cultivation. It also means that the farmers are using their own seeds rather than GMOs. This is beneficial for farmers and the land.
The fabric is woven within a community of 75 female artisans in Uttarakhand, India. For nine years, they have been working to promote the craft and natural fibres of the area by using locally-grown and foraged crops.
Green plants are harvested by men of the community from November to December, with the outer bark peeled off to reveal the inner bark - or what is used as fibre. This is left to dry, bundled up and then stored in a well-ventilated room to dry further.
Once dry, the bundled fibre is softened by boiling it with wood ash or caustic soda and then rinsed in running water while being beaten with a wooden hammer, again to help soften it and remove any excess outer bark. This is a task for the women of the community.
The retting process - on the ground or in running water - will allow the gums that hold the fibres together to break down.
After retting and beating, the fibres are bleached using a solution of white clay, maise flour and rice chaff (broken stalk pieces) to make the fibres white and bring out the natural lustre. They are left in the sun to dry again.
Crushed limestone is then added to the fibres to make them a little greasy, allowing for easier handling in separating the longer and shorter fibres, helpful for spinning.
The fibres will then go for hand-spinning using either a spinning top or charkha (spinning wheel)
This fabric is made of natural fibres and is 100% naturally biodegradable in the right conditions.
Nettle is one of the oldest harvested fibres. As you may know from your own garden, nettle plants grow quickly and widely, but rather than being a weed, it has a long root structure that prevents soil erosion, fixes nitrogen and is a pollinator for butterflies. Himalayan nettle grows well in the high altitude of the Himalayan region, requiring no irrigation or watering, with all parts of the plant (up to 5 metres tall!) being able to be used for food, fibre and fuel.
Nettle as a fibre has been long used for its strength and durability, including in India as bandages for its known properties in healing wounds quicker than other fibres. It is a mildew resistant and odour resistant fibre. As nettle is a hollow fibre, it will keep the wearer cool in summer and warm in winter, and again with the cotton blend, it has a softness against the skin.
The dyes used for the organic cotton are azo-free and so are not coloured with any harmful substances. The nettle fibre is undyed, and so is the fibre's natural colour.
To care for your product:
Suitable for the washing machine and tumble dryer, but we recommend cooler washing or handwashing and air drying to prolong the fabric's lifespan.
Turn the machine down to 30 degrees for a more environmentally friendly wash. In Europe alone, if every household turned its washing temperature down to 30°C, we could save 12 million tons of CO2 a year. We recommend line drying as this reduces energy usage and looks after your textiles for longer. Use a mild detergent, light botanical refresher or steam the item you've made in your bathroom after a shower.
You should not need to iron, but if so, use a medium temperature.
Both sides of the material can be used - there is a slight difference between the two sides, with one having a slightly smaller inner diamond shape than the other. The weight and hand feel are suitable for chunkier garments, though this fabric can also be used for accessories, homewares and interiors. This would make a beautiful blanket with bound edges. In terms of attire, we suggest coats and jackets, skirts and autumnal dresses. Unless you have particular skin sensitivities, as the fabric is so soft and thick, you should not need to line garments. This cloth has integrity and durability, truly woven by skilled craftspeople.
Stepped pricing is available on quantities of 25 metres and over. Email us at email@example.com to enquire. There will be a lead time of approximately two months, depending on quantity.
55% nettle 45% organic cotton
Country of Origin:
Animal Cruelty Free, Azo-Free, Fair Wage, Low Energy, Low Water, No Finishes, No Genetically Modified Crops, Organic (Uncertified), Supports Local Communities, Sustainable, VOC-Free