I love exploring new fibres for spinning yarn. Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of unusual fibres appearing in online wool shops, fibres made from seaweed, mint, corn, and banana plants. I’m just beginning to explore some of them.
For my new autumn/spring jumper (see above) I chose nettle and rose bush fibre. I blended them in a ratio 70/30 on my drum carder and absolutely love how it turned out.
Nettle fibre isn’t new of course, people have been using stinging nettles for making cloth for more than 2000 years until a few hundred years ago when cotton got more popular and nettle was forgotten about. It’s slowly rediscovered today in the search for new, ecologically friendly fibres.
Nettles need hardly any protection from pests and diseases, grow with little water and don’t need a hot climate to grow. Cotton in contrast needs a lot of water to grow, a hot climate and is prone to pest and disease resulting in lots of pesticides sprayed.
So nettle is a wonderful alternative to cotton, it’s soft and strong and spins much like wool. Rose fibre is a new cellulose fibre made from rose bushes. It has a very luxurious feel to it so like silk.
After blending I hand-painted the fibre using magenta and lemon yellow Procion MX dyes. I describe the hand-painting dye method in this blog post, just exchange the citric acid for soda ash and salt and use Procion MX dyes instead of Acid Dyes.
Then I spun the fibres on my spinning wheel and made a three-ply yarn.
I love creating my own patterns and try out different stitches. So here I used a starry crochet stitch for the front and back panels, it’s a very lovely stitch I find, and a ribbed stitch for the sleeves.
I get all my fibres at World Of Wool, they sell a lot of unusual fibres, I also like their wool blends. Now that winter is close I will start blending some of these plant fibres with wool to see what effects can be achieved.