What comes to your mind when you think of nettle? Is the idea to you positive or negative? I used to think nettle as a plant that should not even exist. It burns when you touch it and it's not even very pretty. But over time I have learned to value and appreciate nettle in a completely new way. I've learned how healthy it is and how it can be used as a superfood in my kitchen in so may ways.
But did you know that nettle is also used in textiles? In fact, as it is a superfood in kitchen, it's also a super fibre in the textile sector.
In fact, nettel is a true eco luxury fibre that has many superpowers. It's look is luxurious, silky and softly shiny. It's the most breathable natural fibre in the world sue to it's core structure which allows the air to flow. Now wonder it's called Nordic silk.
The cultivation of nettle is very ecological. Nettle does not require any extra watering to grow, nature's own rain and sunlight is enough. It also does not require any pesticides which is so important. One nettle gives fibre around 10 years. It challenges cotton with as a natural fibre and can be used to substitute it partially in fabrics and yarn.
Compared to cotton, nettle beats cotton in the amount of chemicals and water needed to glow and produce it and also in the amount of fibre per hectare it produces. Whereas normal cotton requires 2 kg of chemicals per hectare (in organic cotton none), it produces 2000 kg of fibre per hectare and takes 20 000 litres of water per one kilogram (around the same amount is eco cotton), nettle grows without any chemicals, it produces 3 000 - 8 000 kg of fibre per hectare and it does not require any artificial watering.*
Also the production process from plant to yarn can be very ecological and it can be done 100 % mechanically, without water. This is how a new Finnish company, Knokkon, produces their nettle fabrics and yarns to provide us the most beautiful nettle products that carry sustainable eco luxury values and look.
Knokkon's female entrepreneur Sanna Kuoppamäki-Luomansuu realised the value and opportunity in nettle and started to study how it could be offered to consumer markets as yarns, fabrics and products. I had the pleasure of following her presentation this morning and I loved her passion and values that she has in her business.
Sanna started to study nettle when she randomly run to a comment in the internet saying that nettle can be also used as a textile fibre. She found out that in a Finnish fashion school there had been a study about nettle as a fibre, but nobody took it further and it had been sort of forgotten. Sanna started to study more and she found a German factory that produces yarn from nettle. Knokkon's story had begun.
At the moment Knokkon has two different yarns in their collection. Nettle cannot be used alone in a yarn, it needs to be blended with other fibres to have the best qualities. Knokkon has a yarn that is 25 % nettle, 25 % hemp and 50 % organic cotton, and another one which is 30 % nettle and 70 % organic cotton.
The nettle and hemp are cultivated and produced from fibre into a yarn in Germany. The organic cotton is from Turkey. The fabric is woven and products are sewn in Finland.
These yarns has been spun as thin as possible (Nm 34/2) so that they could be used in woven textiles. Knokkon produces woven fabrics and eg. very luxurious bed linens and towels from their fabrics. These are the kind of products in which nettle gets to show it's super powers.
But the good news for us knitter babes is that nettle is also very suitable for clothing and different kind of hand made home textiles! Knokkon can also produce thicker yarn that can be used to knitting and crocheting. Also the yarns in collection now can be used as double to create all kinds of wonderful products, ig. coasters.
I have not been able to test it myself, but I quickly saw a crocheted coaster on Sanna's hand (you can also see it in the picture above) and I can totally see the potential this yarn carries. You can create with it anything that you would from a normal cotton yarn, such as tops, skirts, dresses, you name it!
In case you're interested in purchasing the yarn, it's available in Knokkon's web shop and the do deliver internationally. Also if you're interested in a thicker yarn, they take pre orders for it, so you can email them your request.
And I'm sure you'll also fall in love with their textile collection. It's on my list to test their wonderful bed linens! They look so stylish and are a perfect match to my bed room's look, not to mention feeling the silky healing touch of nettle on my skin. It surely will change the bad memory of the touch of nettle on my skin from the childhood.
(Exceptionally, the pictures are from Knokkon, not my own. I have not tested these products but I'm familiar with nettle fabrics and I feel very confident is recommending it to you).
* source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, WWF, Textile Exchange