Friday, May 11, 2012

nettle love





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

18 comments:

Jeannie said...

My Gram used to gather nettles. All I remember is being stung by brushing up against them on my way to the swimming hole. I brought home some ferns from the river one year. The following spring, I was pulling weeds and there in the middle of the ferns was a nettle! I touched it, just for old times sake. ;)I know nettle cloth exists, I'll keep my eyes out for it. Wishing you a glorious weekend.

deanna7trees said...

i have some nettle yarn that i haven't yet tried. you can find cloth with some nettle fiber here: http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/nettle-fabric.html
i haven't seen any garments that are 100% nettle. i think it might be too coarse...not sure. the yarn i have is quite stiff.

Aja said...

Ooh, nettle cloth? I am intrigued! I love your offerings to gaia. I too always remember to say thank you.

woman with wings said...

Jeannie, your Gram is my kind of woman -- you were so lucky to have a wisewoman for a grandmother. I know you know that. I think mine was wise, as well, but there were too many of us grand kids for me to get to know her like you knew yours.

Thanks for being on the look-out for nettle cloth!

woman with wings said...

Hi Deanna, thanks so much for the web site, I'll check it out. There's a few things that are 100% woven nettle out there -- I saw a pillow cover and a curtain but they were both pretty expensive -- you're probably right about the coarseness being the reason it's blended with other fibers. I've got the yarn, too, and I can't think of what to make with it! I was thinking a produce bag, then a washcloth for exfoliating, but haven't decided.

woman with wings said...

Aja, wouldn't it be wonderful to dye some nettle cloth with fresh nettles? That would be cool. And then have steamed nettles for dinner.
Thanks! ;-)

Marie said...

Hi Peggy,

Thought of Viktor Schaubrger when I was reading your post.

http://www.lightnet.co.uk/frontier/viktor.htm

He would talk to the plants and sing and oh so much more....
Happy weekend!
xo <3

Notjustnat said...

I have no experience with nettle until this trip to Japan. The Japanese used them to wrapped mochi (round rice cake with red been stuffing). You can taste nettle on the cake. I must look out for them for dyeing. Thanks for the information on nettle - Happy Mother's Day

henrietta (aka ani aka zani) said...

Hi Peggy. I have a question for the nettle grower. I'm trying to start nettle from seed - it doesn't grow naturally here. I'm wondering if it is too late for this year? I know it is a early Spring being and with the warmer weather it is indeed an earlier Spring then usual. I'm waiting to little green heads to emerge but nothing so far. Should I re-seed, try starting in pots and re-planting or wait until fall? If you have the time I'd appreciate some input from you. Thank you

Trish said...

Oh Peggy, you are wonderful... I love that you placed a little figure of Tara in the nettle patch.
Your nettle harvest looks wonderful. I love nettles.
Love to you, you are a special lady.

woman with wings said...

Marie, I will definitely check out the link, sounds right up my alley! Thanks and happy weekend to you, too....

woman with wings said...

Nat, I bet they have giant nettles there! So interesting, sort of like how grapevine leaves are used to wrap up rice in middle eastern recipes. Happy Mother's Day to you, too!

woman with wings said...

Ani, it's a bit tricky to get started from seed. If you know anyone with some growing in their garden, a clump is the very easiest -- where do you live? If you're in CO, I'll give you some. It doesn't grow naturally here either, I seeded it in both four-packs and directly. Nothing. I had the perfect partly shaded but mostly sunny spot for it near where a house gutter drained. After trying for two years, it dawned on me that I needed to actually invite nettle into the garden. Finally it started growing -- most likely it simply needed a better stratification then I had given it and the seed in the ground finally took ;-) because it seemed to just appear one spring.

I would stratify fresh seed in the fridge and plant in both pots and in the ground. It won't matter if it doesn't have a full season, the important thing is to get it going! You might have to wait until spring like I did. Good luck, you will love having nettle. And you will be surprised at how freely it spreads once you get it going, so put it in an area that you can manage it in.

woman with wings said...

Hi Trish, thank you ;-) Green Tara was a guiding presence in my life a few years ago -- I whispered her chant over and over. Good to see her in the green nettles now. Love to you!

Deb G said...

I've purchased some nettle yarn at a local yarn store. It was very stiff as I worked with it but with washing softens a lot. If you find nettle fabric I want to know. :)

woman with wings said...

Deb, I'll definitely let you know. I found a few places, but too much $$ and I'm worried once it comes, I'll find out it's a blend. If you see any, let me know, too, okay?
Good to know that the yarn softens, it's so rough.

Hoola Tallulah said...

Goodness, it did tickle me reading this. We have nettles in abundance here, they are simply everywhere and most all folk consider them an extremely unwelcome and invasive weed, they literally are EVERYWHERE. I had no idea you could produce cloth from nettles, but love them for the dye pot and a hearty nettle soup :)

woman with wings said...

Thanks, Hoola Tallulah! I wish they were easier to grow here but we do what we can, yes? ;-) My dyeing didn't amount to much, but will try making a regular dye-bath next time and see how that goes. Enjoy your soup!