The question of sustainability is one that I am very passionate about and one that is being asked more and more within the hand knitting community. It is important to me to question the fibres we, as a brand, use and the production methods that they go through. We are by no means perfect and making commercially viable fully sustainable and traceable yarns at a fair and affordable price is an ongoing process. I only use natural fibres as I believe they are better for the environment, enjoyable to craft with and create beautiful, breathable garments to wear.
Wild Wool is a yarn, not only with a wonderful texture and look, but with a fibre content that I hope will encourage a dialogue about sustainable and eco-friendly fibres.
Wild Wool is a sustainable blend of soft wool and natural nettle.
Wool is a renewable, natural fibre, soft, biodegradable, hypoallergenic and breathable, but the properties of nettle are less well known.
The use of nettle fibre in creating textiles is not a gimmick or a new concept. It has been used for 2000 years, traditionally made into a cord for string, ropes and fishing nets and spun into yarn to be woven into hardwearing outwear, bags and blankets. It was during the 16th century that nettle’s popularity waned, with the arrival of cotton, which was much easier to harvest and spin. And it has dwindled ever since, only being used on any mass scale during the First World War when Germany suffered a shortage of cotton, so used nettles to produce its army’s uniforms.
Today there is a world over reliance on cotton and it is important to discuss alternatives. Advances in agricultural and spinning technologies, as well as the plants inherent resistance to diseases and pest, without the need for harmful pesticides and pollutants, make nettle a real possible alternative crop. The stinging nettle thrives on nitrogenous and over-fertilized soil and therefore does well around human settlements benefitting from the waste we produce – often indicating where old settlements have long since disappeared from the countryside.
Nettle grows wild abundantly and perennially in rainy areas worldwide, but commercially managed crops are not currently grown and made accessible everywhere, so the nettle that is used in this yarn is from the Himalayas.
The fibre comes from the stem of the plant (not the leaves with their stinging hairs) and is very long and strong. The fibres extracted from the stem are white and silky, producing a finer and smoother fabric than flax, but one that is very durable. The silky white nettle fibre enhances the wool with a luxurious lustre and rustic texture, and you may find flecks of the white fibre in your knitted garment. This is all part of the authenticity and unique character of Wild Wool.