Now Stinging nettles are one of my favourite plants that are utilized in many ways here. Most importantly its one of the biodynamic compost plants along with its use in the chooks mash. I also use it like spinach, herb tea, green pasta to mention a few.
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)is a herbaceous perennial growing to 1.5mt, with coarsely toothed leaves. They can be cut several times in a growing season. They can become invasive and should not be planted near paths.
So back to its use as a fibre .I decide to prepare some to make string, after researching the method I modified it a bit and this is what I came up with.
1. Choose the tallest nettles, ours grow to about 1.5 mt but the ones I used where a little under 1 mt. Cut nettles off at the base (best to wear gloves)
2. Starting from the bottom run your hand to the top removing the leaves. (use these to make some liquid fertilizer) Run it up the stem a couple more times to remove the hairs.(the bits that sting)
3. Each stem is hollow in the centre like a tube, except at the nodes where the leaves grow. The part you want is the outside ‘bark’ so now put the stems through your pasta rollers. You can adjust the width to suit the stems. Put them through once then tighten the rollers and put them through again. (you can do several at once)
4. The tube-like structure of the stem is now flattened and on the inside of the Nettle the harder woody material and the outside of the nettle have separated it is now easy to separate off the soft bark and woody material.
6. To use for string, lightly damp and twist away.