I recently bought a collection of non-wool fibres to experiment with. The first one I chose to spin was ramie (from a type of nettle not found in Europe).
I really enjoyed spinning this fibre. Something about the activity hit the sweet spot in my brain. So, I was delighted when the latest Permaculture Magazine had an article about preparing fibre to spin from European nettles.
My local organic farm has a plentiful supply of Urtica dioica and the farmer was more than happy for me to pick my own. So, once the stems were a reasonable length I got my shears and did a bit of chopping.
Now, the stems have been stripped of their leaves and are sitting on my drive, retting. This means they are being exposed to rain/dew to make it easier to remove the bast (outer layers of the stem) in due course. There are other methods of retting but this one is not only the most environmentally friendly, it is also the most convenient.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll put the stems in the airing cupboard so that they can be dried before the next stage in the fibre preparation. Removing the bast could be a messy job, so all being well the good weather can continue so that I can do the job outside!