Nettle Fibre & Sustainability

Nettle fiber, also known as Allo fiber, is a unique natural material that has been used for centuries to create high-quality textiles in Nepal. As the world becomes more aware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry, designers and manufacturers are exploring new materials that are sustainable, eco-friendly, and ethical. Nettle Fibre is gaining popularity. Allo fiber is derived from the bark of the nettle plant, which grows abundantly in the Himalayan region. In this blog, we’ll explore the history and production of Allo fibers and some of the products that are made from it.

History of Allo Fiber

Allo fiber has been a vital part of Nepali culture for centuries, with the first recorded use of nettle fiber dating back to the Licchavi period (400-750 AD). Allo fiber was traditionally used to make clothing for the royal family, and it was also used to create durable rope and fishing nets.

In recent years, the production of allo fiber has become an important source of income for rural Nepali communities, many of which are located in remote mountainous regions. The production of allo fiber provides an opportunity for these communities to generate income while preserving their traditional way of life and promoting sustainable practices.

Sustainability Benefits of Nettle Fiber Fabric

There are several sustainability benefits of nettle fiber fabric that make it a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional textiles:

  1. Renewable Resource: Nettle plants grow quickly and easily in a variety of climates and soil types, making them a renewable resource that can be harvested year after year without the need for pesticides or fertilizers.
  2. Biodegradable: Unlike synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon, nettle fiber fabric is biodegradable and will decompose naturally at the end of its lifecycle, reducing waste and pollution.
  3. Low Water Usage: Growing nettle plants require less water than other crops such as cotton, reducing the strain on water resources.
  4. Low Carbon Footprint: The production of nettle fiber fabric has a lower carbon footprint than traditional textiles, as it requires less energy and emits fewer greenhouse gases.
  5. No Harmful Chemicals: Nettle fiber fabric is produced without the use of harmful chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, making it a safer and healthier alternative for workers and consumers.

Products Made from Allo Fiber

Allo fiber is a versatile material that can be used to create a variety of products, including clothing, bags, and household items. Allo fiber is highly durable and has natural antibacterial properties, which makes it an ideal material for outdoor clothing and bags.

How Do We Extract Nettle Fibre from Nettle Plant?

how nettle fibre clothing are made
  1. Harvesting: Nettle plants are typically harvested in the spring or early summer when they are young and tender. Wear gloves and protective clothing to avoid getting stung by the plant’s small hairs.
  2. Drying: Once harvested, the nettle leaves are typically hung up to dry in a well-ventilated area. This can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on the humidity and temperature.
  3. Grinding: Once the nettle leaves are completely dry, they are typically ground into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a food processor.
  4. Infusing: The nettle powder can be infused in hot water to make nettle tea, or infused in oil to make nettle oil. To make nettle tea, add a tablespoon of nettle powder to a cup of boiling water and let steep for 5-10 minutes. To make nettle oil, add a cup of nettle powder to a cup of carrier oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil) and let sit for a few weeks, shaking occasionally.
  5. Extracting: Nettle can also be extracted using alcohol, glycerin, or vinegar to create a concentrated tincture or vinegar. To make a nettle tincture, add dried nettle leaves to a jar and cover it with alcohol (such as vodka or brandy). Let the mixture sit for several weeks, shaking occasionally, then strain out the plant material and store the tincture in a dark glass bottle. To make nettle vinegar, add dried nettle leaves to a jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture sit for several weeks, shaking occasionally, then strain out the plant material and store the vinegar in a glass bottle.
  6. Using: Nettle products can be used in a variety of ways, including as tea, oil, tincture, or vinegar. Nettle tea is often used to support the immune system, promote healthy skin, and reduce inflammation. Nettle oil can be used topically to soothe dry or irritated skin. Nettle tincture and vinegar can be taken internally to support overall health and wellness. As with any herbal product, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using nettle products, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking any medications.

Nettle Fiber Fabric in Fashion

Nettle fiber fabric has been used in a variety of fashion applications, including clothing, accessories, and home decor. The fabric has a unique texture and is known for its durability, making it an ideal choice for products that require strength and longevity. Several fashion designers and brands have embraced nettle fiber fabric as a sustainable alternative to traditional textiles. For example, French fashion label Bleu de Paname has used nettle fiber fabric in their collections, while Italian luxury brand Loro Piana has developed a line of nettle fiber clothing. In recent years, Nepali artisans and designers have begun to experiment with allo fiber, incorporating it into modern clothing designs and accessories. Allo fiber is now being used to create stylish and sustainable products that appeal to a global audience.

Allo fiber is a unique and sustainable material that has played an important role in Nepali culture for centuries. The production of allo fiber provides a source of income for rural communities while promoting sustainable practices and preserving traditional techniques. With its natural durability and antibacterial properties, allo fiber is a versatile material that can be used to create a variety of products that are both beautiful and practical. Whether you’re looking for a traditional Nepali shawl or a modern eco-friendly accessory, allo fiber is a material that is worth exploring.

Alchemy Story is proud to offer hand-knit shawls made from nettle fiber, also known as allo fiber, by local village women in Khandbari in Koshi Province of north-eastern Nepal. These shawls and ponchos are beautiful and sustainable product that showcases the skill and craftsmanship of Nepali artisans.

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