Today I had a wonderful meeting with a papermaker. We talked about hemp, flax, and how the papermaking group is transforming invasive species into useful things. I'm hugely impressed with their work.
The conversation turned to nettles. I had some nettle skins I had stripped in years past that I forgot to hide out of sight. So we got to talking about it. One of the things with making paper is the difficulty in separating the fibres from the woody part of the plants. Stripping the skins of the nettles solves this problem.
I sent some home with her to test. Things are busy, so it will probably be a few months before we hear the results. But the method sounds a lot like how some places process nettle fibre for yarn. Boil the material in an alkali solution remove anything, not cellulose. Then process the results into the desired form.
I'm so glad I found this thread! My crafty friend heard about nettle yarn and told me aboutbit and now I'm taking some baby steps in play with them.
I just harvested a bundle - maybe 20 or so stems - last week. They were about 4 feet tall and sun-grown. Still early in the season too. Having not researched fully beforehand (I browsed this forum and watched the Russian man's amazing video), I dried them on our metal roof. I think in the future I'd go for processing green, though I'd like to try dew-retting and we have a beaver-dammed stream that might be perfect for water retting.
I'm a little nervous about how to proceed with this batch, but then again it's not like I have a scarcity of nettle plants to work with!