Ecotextile News is a business-to-business magazine dedicated to the production of sustainable fashion materials. Ready to ride the green waves with everyone else, they get pretty excited about innovative green fibers. Recently they announced a new project in Kathmandu on the production of nettle fibre.
The setting is the foothills of the Himalayas. Giant Nettle, a/k/a Allo in Nepal, is a plant that grows wild, – up to three meters (or 9.84 feet) in forests. Like hemp, the plants don’t require fertilizers or pesticides. Also like hemp, the plants prevent soil erosion. In fact hemp grows well in this region too.
That’s nice because blends are a big potential here. Silk and cotton are produced near Kathmandu as well. Pure or blended, – fabrics feel like linen and ramie, wick moisture away from the body, and keep the wearer temperature comfortable. Top that with naturally anti-bacterial and mold resistant claims.
Nettle-Allo textiles are not new to the European interior furnishings market. Think upholstery and carpet. Then in addition to fine shawls or the delicate nettle scarf as pictured, shirting and garments from dresses to coats are impressive. Historical items are fishing nets, ropes, mats, sacks, and bags. The Allo slippers are trimmed with local angora.
Social responsibility brings a favorable attraction. Wild-harvested is as good as organic to anyone in the remote region. Whether yarn or finished product form, nettle provides income to local families. The plants grow between 1,200 and 3,000 meters, (which equates close to 4,000 and 9,850 foot altitudes).
Harvesting takes place after the rainy season, before flowering. Hands are covered to avoid those giant stingers and cut above the ground without disturbing the soil. The nettle then grows back with the next rains. Ah, sustainable! Yet ten days of work are required to make one kilogram (or about 2.2 pounds) of nettle yarn.
Wow, what’s about to change when you add technology? I think it’s coming without negative disruptions and hope readers will comment accordingly.