Friday, May 11, 2012
Cool weather has thankfully lengthened the stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, harvest -- this is the first year in quite a while that the plants haven't bloomed and begun to set seed by now. Once nettle starts budding, it's time to stop harvesting because the leaves will contain an irritating substance to our kidneys.
In the tradition I was taught, I almost always sing or hum to the plants while harvesting, and I also like the idea of a simple offering as a kind of acknowledgment. This time, I placed a little figure of Tara in the nettle patch. Sometimes I'll sprinkle cornmeal, dried herbs, leave a few strands of my hair, or burn a little incense. Once when harvesting osha root, a bear herb, we left squares of dark chocolate for the bears. We thought when the bears returned to that stand of osha, they might like a treat nestled among the osha roots.
Four big bunches of nettles are hanging to dry already and I expect more because this is a great year for nettles -- some of the stalks were 5' tall. A pot of nettle was picked for lunch, this is my favorite way to cook them. And a dye bundle with nettle, red amaranth, and lunaria moonseeds on a stained white napkin all ready to roll and tie. We have a dozen or more stained white napkins so this is the beginning of a dyeing series to maybe make them usable again.
I am trying to get my hands on 100% nettle cloth. While searching, I found a lovely video on the harvest and preparation of nettle for spinning -- so interesting to see how people pick and handle the nettles without actually touching them. There are a few websites with nettle products but does anyone out there have a source for 100% nettle cloth?
Thanks for visiting here -- wishing you a whole lot of happy weekending! xo