Author Archives: seapol

Buy a Bitcoin

Finally we got around to buying a Bitcoin.

Now it seems like the time lost was money lost too. When the idea was first floated the price of one coin was less than £600, two months later, it’s above £800. Hesitate and lose.

Saying that, I am not going to put the house on Bitcoin. I think of it as a speculative spend and also the best way to get into cryptocurrency.

BigSon did his research and Coinbase came out as the best choice as a place to buy Bitcoins. He registered an account about a week ago. We hit a snag on the ID verification step because neither from the browser application, which we accessed on a Mac and on a PC, nor the mobile app, were we able to upload an ID photo.

I wrote to Support but no reply to date. A search revealed that the ID Verification on Coinbase is an issue and lots of people have gone to other sites as a result. Count us in.

We went back to the drawing board and came up with BitPanda and set about registering an account. It went smoothly. I got Google Authenticator which worked easily on the secure login process. Bitpanda can sell you Bitcoins and also store the record of all your account transactions in what is called a wallet.

Before buying the coin I got advise that it is best to keep a hardware wallet which gives you, the owner, more security than the one kept online by BitPanda or whichever seller you choose. So there was a delay while I ordered a Ledger Nano S from France. It got here after four days and by that time we were ready to buy our first Bitcoin.

Although we had an account registered with BitPanda, we weren’t able to purchase a Bitcoin until the ID Verification was done. BitPanda uses IDnow who get in touch with you via Skype and take photos of you and your ID during the call. We set an appointment time and on the dot, they called us. That did not take long and soon we were able to make the purchase.

Google Authenticator is needed again to verify the Bitcoin buyer. When we tried to pay, the transaction kept failing and the notice on BitPanda is in German. These days that is not so much a problem as you can easily do a search and get a translation so it was more of a laugh than a full stop. We had no clue why it was failing and soon gave up for the evening. Turns out there was a SMS on my phone from my bank asking if I am aware of such a transaction to another country and all I needed to do was reply YES or NO.

Back on the trail that same night, we finally were able to get the Bitcoin. From the BitPanda account you can see the value of the purchase as a credit.

We immediately plugged in the Nano S and transferred that value to the stick which acts as an account in itself. It is plugged into a computer and you can see the details of the account on the screen while navigating the page through buttons on the side of the memory stick.

After a while you can see the value has been transferred to your hardware wallet and when you check back in Bitpanda, the balance is now zero. It acts exactly like a transfer from one account to another. You get to secure your accounts on a private memory stick which is not only in your possession but is also secured with access credentials set by you.

It has been a long winded process with a lot of what looks like a palaver especially for a newbie. Everything looks like a step to undo what you have previously done. Thankfully BigSon was involved and for him this is as easy as a TV remote control.

Bitcoin

BigSon and I went to recent Hackathon at the University of Bedfordshire. It was a well organised event to showcase the new IBM LinuxOne which is a blockchain computational platform. We came away from that event enthused about the idea of blockchains and the most famous application to date, Bitcoin. Below is his write up on the cryptocurrency after reading Mastering Bitcoin by .

What is Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is decentralised (no governing body) that is built upon the blockchain and uses a proof of work system called mining. Bitcoin can be used to buy anything from anyone that has a Bitcoin wallet and address. There is a set number of Bitcoins that will ever be in circulation (about 21 million) that is embedded in the software so it can never be exceeded.

History of Bitcoin

The idea for Bitcoin came from an unknown person by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto (not real name). He posted the idea on a popular digital currency blog. It was launched in 2009 and became very popular partly thanks to the bank crisis. The largest Bitcoin transaction ever was worth 150 million dollars.

Getting Started

To get a Bitcoin wallet you must download an application from the Bitcoin website and install it. There are different Bitcoin wallets, the main ones are phone and desktop wallet. Phone wallets are for small transactions and do not contain the full blockchain and for purchases using small amounts of money. Desktop wallets usually contain the full blockchain and can process small and large payments. They are safer to use. To get your first Bitcoin you can get some from a friend or buy some from a Bitcoin coin seller.

Bitcoin Transactions

Bitcoin transactions are made through the internet on a peer-to-peer system, which means that there are no middle men. The payment is made to the address of the receiver. After the payment is made it is put in unconfirmed transaction pool. The privacy of both participants is kept by encrypting their address and keys. The smallest possible payment is 1 Satoshi (1 millionth of a Bitcoin). It is impossible to get a smaller transaction because it is the smallest Bitcoin unit.

Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining is an essential part of Bitcoin; it is a way of verifying transactions by putting them in blocks and then into the blockchain. To mine Bitcoin you need a powerful mining computing device like ASICS. The device first groups all the transactions possible into the new candidate block. The first transaction it puts in is the miner’s reward which is about 12.5 Bitcoin in 2016. It will then put in the most important transactions determined by how old and how much is the transaction. After it has made the candidate block it must find a hash that is lower than the target, the set of numbers that identifies the block. If it finds the right hash it will post the block to the network and all the nodes (wallets) will verify it and it will become a valid block. After it is verified the nodes will add it to their blockchain, if it is invalid it will be rejected and the network will wait for a valid block to arrive.

Bitcoin Blocks

Bitcoin blocks contain a list of transactions that were processed through the network. Once the transaction has been made the money is sent to the receiver but it is not confirmed. It is confirmed when the transaction is put in a block that is then verified. For large transactions, it is advised to wait for at least 6 blocks to be confirmed before considering your transaction valid. For very large transactions you should wait at least a day before considering it valid.

Blockchain

The blockchain is a public ledger in Bitcoin that keeps all the transactions ever made. The transactions are kept in blocks that are kept in chronological order. The blockchain goes back all the way to the first ever Bitcoin transaction, the Genesis block created by Satoshi Nakamoto. Inside the Genesis block there are no transactions but an encrypted message from Satoshi Nakamoto “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”. Satoshi Nakamoto put this text in the place of the transactions that usually contains the miners reward. Blockchain is not unique to Bitcoin, it is used in other currencies and applications.

Bitcoin security

Security in Bitcoin is kept by encrypting the user keys and addresses. Security is also kept because there is no central bank or government at the centre keeping all the users’ money.  A government or bank is a point of failure because all the money is in one place which makes it easy to steal. With Bitcoin, the user’s Bitcoins are kept in their wallet with a public ledger of all the transactions ever made. This makes it harder for hackers to steal the money, because they would need to hack individual accounts which is not always fruitful. The way a user keeps the keys to their account is by keeping them in cold storage (see below) or online hardware wallets, data files. Hardware wallets are tamper proof and are a relatively safe way of keeping your Bitcoins and keys. Data files are not the best way to keep Bitcoin keys because they can be lost in computer crashes and full reboots and never be recovered. Cold storage is keeping your encrypted Bitcoin keys on pieces of paper in a safe or hidden place. Cold storage is one of the safest ways of keeping your Bitcoin keys.

There are two different types of Bitcoin keys: private keys and public keys. Private keys are kept in cold storage and are only kept by the wallet owner. Private keys are usually encrypted for safety and then put on cold storage. Public keys are derived from the encrypted versions of private keys. The public key is generated by encrypting the encrypted private key again. The public key is what is visible to all users of Bitcoin and is what the money is sent to.

Because we are newbies to this technologies and are willing to learn as much as we can about it, we are happy to take comments on what is written above. We welcome corrections and also questions which will guide our learning.

Thanks for reading and again, feel free to comment.

It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since the last post and the blog has been silent. We were away in France and intentionally offline. It was very exhilarating and enjoyable to recap on time together, time alone without a white noise, book time and wonderful walks along the Cote Sauvage. Or simply watching sea and boats disappearing over the horizon.

We did discover a few good things in France again. We fell in love with Sel de Guerande and rock hopping. The ferocious sea breeze can be sometimes too mind blowing.

On the return home, we embarked on the house renovations. There was an excitement followed by disruption, dust biting and some inconveniences on the top of sometimes quite stressful moments. The end result as usual was not as perfect as envisaged, but it was a learning curve for us and we are not as idealistic about all the process anymore. One more thing was discovered: builders and internet abundance are not often compatible. Their catalogue from the builders’ supply shop hardly matches Amazon even. Gratefully, we are nearly finished and getting back to so called normal family life, but what’s normal here?!

As the world goes more crazy/beautiful everyday, it has been a challenging but so far a good year. I enjoy the ride so should you.

Here’s the photo diary of what was keeping us busy. Enjoy:

Big Son about to glide

Big Son about to glide

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Mother and Children on OUR rocks!

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View for Morning Coffee

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Bird’s eye view of Batz sue Mar.

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Another glorious sunset

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Decent crop of strawberries and Alpine strawberries

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Petworth Festival Walk through cornfields

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Lavender Farm Hertfordshire

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Morning Ritual

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HDTV

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Our rock garden

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Pepe the Hermit Crab

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Down at the beach

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Every colour story

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Sun going down

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About to board

Długa Historia Tkaniny z Pokrzywy

Tkaniny z pokrzywy były od dawna produkowane przez ludzi, którzy odkryli, że jest to świetne źródło włókien już tysiące lat temu. Ale historia pokrzywy nie jest tak odległa jak by się mogło wydawać, ponieważ tkaniny z włókien pokrzywy robimy aż do dzisiaj. Ta bardzo parząca roślina znów wychodzi z zakamarków historii jako ekologiczne i odnawialne źródło włókien do produkcji tkanin.

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Już starożytni Egipcjanie zawijali mumie w tkaninę ramie, która należy do tej samej rodziny co pokrzywa. Pokrzywa występująca w Europie (Uriotica Dioica), była wykorzystywana przez Wikingów i plemiona Słowian w Centralnej Europie. W pochówku mężczyzny z Epoki Brązu, który został odkryty w Danii, archeolodzy znaleźli liczącą 3000 lat tkaninę z pokrzywy. Prochy mężczyzny zostały zawinięte w pokrzywową tkaninę przed umieszczeniem w urnie z brązu. Co jest interesujące, pokrzywa nie jest rośliną występującą naturalnie na tych obszarach Danii i po dalszych analizach naukowcy ustalili, że pokrzywa z której zrobiono tkaninę pochodziła z terenów dzisiejszej Austrii. Potwierdza to teorię, ze tkaniny z pokrzywy była szczególnym i cennym materiałem, który był przedmiotem wymiany handlowej a nawet symbolem statusu.

Odkrycie tak pradawnej tkaniny jest bardzo rzadkie, bowiem by tkaniny mogły zostać zachowane przez wieki, wymagają one specjalnych warunków, jak na przykład: środowisko wodne czy zwęglenie. To unikalne znalezisko z Danii, dało dowód na to, że pomimo tego iż ludzie uprawiali już len na ubrania, wciąż bardzo cenili i wykorzystywali dziko rosnącą pokrzywę.  Być może dlatego, że z pokrzywy można pozyskać włókna prawie tak delikatne jak czysty jedwab, więc był to materiał dość luksusowy.

Poza luksusowymi właściwościami tkaniny z pokrzywy, trzeba też pamiętać o innym, bardzo ważnym dla naszych przodków, atrybucie tej rośliny. Słowianie i Wikingowie wierzyli, że pokrzywa ma właściwości magiczne. W Letnie Przesilenie, Słowianie wieszali kępy pokrzywy we wejściach, aby chroniła ich i plony przed złymi mocami. Wierzono też, że pokrzywa ma moc rozganiania burz, wiec była ona palona na polach, aby jej dym rozpędził burzowe chmury. Wobec tego nie dziwi, że tkanina z pokrzywy była wtedy wyjątkowym, szczególnego przeznaczenia materiałem.

Pokrzywa oczywiście była też znana jako roślina lecznicza. Przykładowo pokrzywa była stosowana przy krwawieniach czy zainfekowanych ranach, by wspomnieć tylko kilka zastosowań (za Hipokratesem). Jak widać jest to roślina o wielu zastosowaniach, więc nasi przodkowie sprytnie korzystali z pokrzywy która rośnie tak swobodnie i obficie prawie wszędzie. Włókna pokrzywy były używane też przez rybaków, którzy pletli z niej sieci i liny. Jej włókna są bowiem bardzo mocne, wodoodporne i nie gniją tak szybko jak sieci z innych włókien. Na Kamczatce, na przykład, włókna pokrzywowe były cenione przez rybaków ze względu na lekkość i wodoodporność – pokrzywa była jedynym źródłem takich włókien dostępnym dla ludności na tych terenach. Inny przykład: na dawnych terenach Polski z włókien pokrzywy wyplatano sita do przesiewania mąki czy przecedzania miodu.

Na rynku można obecnie znaleźć włókna i materiały wytworzone z pokrzywy pozyskiwanej w Himalajach, w Nepalu (Girardinia diversifolia), która rośnie do wysokości nawet 3 metrów. Nasza pokrzywa europejska była popularna aż do czasu wyparcia przez tańszą bawełnę i jedwab. Ale w Polsce, tkaniny z pokrzywy były powszechnie używane aż do XVII wieku – od  XII wieku najwiecej tkanin wyrabiano właśnie z pokrzywy. Fakt, że tkanina z pokrzywy jest o wiele delikatniejsza w dotyku niż len czy konopie, sprawił że z takiej tkaniny chętniej szyto koszule czy bieliznę. Istotne było też to, że pokrzywa była o wiele tańsza od jedwabiu, na który stać było tylko ludzi zamożnych.

Już wcześniej wspomniałam, że włókna pokrzywy były też popularne w Skandynawii, włókna pokrzywy znaleziono we wraku statku Wikingów, być może stosowano ją do wyplatania sieci. W XVIII w Skandynawii nastąpił duży powrót pokrzywy jako surowca włókienniczego. Z włókien lokalnej pokrzywy jak i importowanego ramie, tkano luksusowe tkaniny na suknie. Udało mi się znaleźć bardzo interesujący zapis z 1813 roku, o kobiecie z Feyn w Danii, która z tkaniny z pokrzywy uszyła 21 łokci obrusów i tkaniny obiciowej. W kolejnym roku, z 2 kamieni pokrzywy (wagowo około 12kg) udało jej się zrobić 12 chusteczek, 20 metrów tkaniny obrusowej i 14 metrów tkaniny obiciowej. Jest to prawdziwy i dość imponujący zapis tego jak wiele można wytworzyć z naszej skromnej pokrzywy.

camira nettleW Wielkiej Brytanii znany jest termin “Scotch cloth” – tkanina szkocka, pod tą nazwą kryje się tkanina pokrzywowa. Włókna z pokrzywy były popularne w Szkocji przez stulecia. XIX-wieczny szkocki poeta Thomas Campbell pisał: “In Scotland, I have eaten nettles, I have slept on nettle sheets, and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth. The stalks of the old nettle are as good as flax for making cloth. I have heard my mother say that she thought the nettle cloth more durable than any other species of linen”. Co pozwoliłam sobie przetłumaczyć na potrzeby artykułu: “W Szkocji jadałem pokrzywy, spałem na pokrzywach i jadałem na obrusach z pokrzywy. Łodygi pokrzywy są równie dobrym źródłem włókien na tkaniny jak len. Moja matka mówiła, że pokrzywa jest bardziej wytrzymała niż jakiekolwiek inne włókna lniane”. To bardzo piękny i miły hołd dla tej parzącej, niby zwyczajnej rośliny.

Jest też więcej interesujących dowodów na to, ze pokrzywa była uważana za roślinę niezwyczajną. Być może pamiętacie starą baśń tak pięknie opisaną przez Jana Christiana Andersena, Dzikie Łabędzie, o dziewczynie która utkała koszule z parzącej pokrzywy by uratować swoich 11 braci przemienionych w łabędzie. Całkiem naturalne wydaje się, że ludzie nazywali magią to, że tak parząca roślina jak pokrzywa potrafi dawać tak miękkie i jedwabiste włókna.

Wróćmy jednak do rzeczywistości i zajrzyjmy do nie tak odległej historii. Tkanina z europejskiej pokrzywy powróciła w czasie Pierwszej Wojny Światowej w Niemczech. Zapasy bawełny się  skończyły a ze względu na to że Wielka Brytania dominowała na morzach, sprowadzenie bawełny było prawie niemożliwe, więc Niemcy zmuszeni byli znaleźć inne dostępne źródło materiałów odpowiednich do uszycia mundurów. Według dostępnych informacji, Niemcy wykorzystali włókna pokrzywy nie tylko do produkcji mundurów, ale rownież do szycia worków na piasek. Wspomina się również, że Niemcy wykorzystywali tez barwnik pozyskiwany z pokrzywy.

IMG_20160102_124400Sprzedawane w sklepach włókna z pokrzywy to  wyłącznie włókna z pokrzywy himalajskiej. Włókno tej pokrzywy nazywane jest przez miejscową ludność Allo. Włókno i tkanina z Allo są produkowane metodami tradycyjnymi przez miejscową ludność, wspieraną przez ruch Fair Trade. Prowadzone są badania nad uprawą pokrzywy europejskiej pod produkcję włókien i tkanin, ale do dziś nie mam informacji o żadnym producencie włókien z naszej pokrzywy. Oczywiście, wyzwaniem jest uprawa na polach i zbiór pokrzywy na wiekszą skalę, aby takie przedsięwzięcie miało również sens ekonomiczny. Ze względu na rosnące zainteresowanie odnawialnymi źródłami włókien, do tego pozyskiwanymi lokalnie, w przeciwieństwie do bawełny, która jest rośliną bardzo obciążającą środowisko naturalne, uważam że już niedługo nasza europejska pokrzywa powróci do nas jako tkanina, a nie tylko pospolity a jak niezwykły chwast.

The Craftsman’s Dinner

This is a beautiful series of five short films based on the crafts surrounding food.

Don’t know which is my favourite, they are all so good.

The farm with the free range animals and what the owners are trying to achieve is admirable. The knife maker is just amazing. The potter makes us want to go to London to find that shop. The salmon smoker had us going to his site to  place an order. The winery gave us another choice for an accompaniment for dinner.

Hope you enjoy.

The Mito Principle

In my early years I was a car guy. I subscribed to Road and Track and every month I will get the magazine with the news and views of the latest cars. That publication had terrific writers and besides the cars to ogle at, the reading was always a delight.IMG_7688
At that time, like most, I dreamt of owning the latest cars and my dreams will be updated each and every month. My favourites back then were the Cizeta Moroder, Ferrari Testarossa and the Porsche 959. All stratospherically priced vehicles. If wishes were horses, I would have ridden.
As the years passed, my philosophy on owning things started to change. It became less of idealising objects and more of a sense of enjoying the beauty and utility of them. I expect if I can easily afford something, I am happy to own it, if possible. Still now I check the number of things I acquire because I am losing patience with being surrounded by stuff.
A couple years ago, at my first job away from home, I was prompted to get a second car to avoid having the family running up and down the motorway to drop me off on weekends. A buddy at work wanted to trade in a Saab Aero for a Land Rover so I ended up with a two litre turbo that ran like a thief. I enjoyed the long commute home on the big roads, swiping through the long bends and feeling the taught suspension balancing the car through the curves.
I changed jobs and then worked on the other side of London, the busy side, close to Heathrow Airport. There the quick acceleration worked against me on one particular evening when I got two speeding tickets from the Variable Speed cameras. I was nothing short of furious.
Those cameras have been hell in driving along that road, you have to keep your eye on the speed notices all the time toIMG_7693 avoid a loud PAX! That evening I lapsed and while under no danger, I was ticketed, twice
The Saab was already ten years old and starting to demand expensive repairs so I decided to get rid of it and set a new criteria for a replacement.
The new car must be under the tax band, slow to accelerate and cheap to run. With my parameters set, I started my search. I got a good price for the Saab and that served as a downpayment for the next car.
I found an Alfa Romeo Mito for sale that matched all that I wanted in a car. It was less than a litre in engine size and had many modern comforts that the Saab lacked. I got it for a song because the owner was pressed to migrate and to my surprise the car drove beautifully. It is a joy in the lanes! I took it through the Chilterns one weekend soon after I got it and it was one of the best country drives I ever had. The car is nimble and enjoys being thrown into corners where it just sticks to the line you carve from the steering wheel. Fun, fun, fun!
There is no doubt it is slow. You do get a quick take off from a standing start and that is exciting at traffic lights but by the time you hit 30mph, you are chugging along. It is very hard to break a speed limit in this car. Just what I wanted.IMG_7694
Recently the notice came for me to renew the road tax. I immediately got online and the process was one of clicking three buttons in quick succession without any exchange of money. Super!
Then there was the renewal of the insurance; which at £300 for the year makes me feel like the cat that got the cream.
I am somewhat smug about this entire episode but in standing aside, I will like to take from it some principles that might help me in other areas.
First was, I made a list of what attributes I was looking for. At that point it did not matter what make or model, just what qualities were important to me.
I then looked for a vehicle that was the closest match to that list. When the ad for the car came up, I already knew it was the one I wanted. I was able to move swiftly, without much hesitation and acquire it.
Those two points seem to form an approach I can expend in other circumstances. First decide on the qualities you want to work with and secondly when you find them, move promptly and confidently.

Nettle’s Long Story

“If they would eat nettles in March, and drink Mugwort in May, 
So many fine maidens would not go to the clay.” – Funeral Song of a Scottish Mermaid. 

IMG_20160422_123345Using nettle for clothing is not anything new, as humans discovered it is a excellent source of fibre  millennia ago. And it is not long distant history as it may seem, because we still use nettle fibres to make fabric. It is beautiful that this prickly plant is coming out from the shadows of history again and being considered as one of sustainable sources of fibres.

Ancient Egyptians wrapped mummies in ramie cloth, made of plant fibres from the nettle family. European nettle (Uriotica Dioica) was used by Vikings and Slavic tribes in the Central Europe alike. In the Bronze Age burial of an important man in Denmark, archaeologist discovered that the nearly 3000 years old cloth that bones were wrapped in before placing in bronze urn, was made of nettle. The nettle does not grow in Denmark and in further analysis, it turned out this nettle was from Austria region of Europe. It is evident that nettle cloth was considered a special, expensive material, traded in Europe and something of a status symbol.

It is unusual to find ancient cloth, unless it got luckily preserved in favourable conditions like being water logged or carbonised for example. Therefore, such a rare find like this from Denmark, confirms that despite already growing flax for cloth production, people still were using wild nettles, because it gives fibres as fine as raw silk and has that luxury touch.

Regardless of its luxurious properties as a fabric, it was not the only reason for nettle being so venerated. It was considered to be a magical plant by the Slavic and Vikings alike. At the Summer Solstice, Slavic tribes used to hang bunches of it in doorways to protect agains demons or protect crops on their fields. Nettle was also believed to keep away thunderstorms, so it was often burnt as the smoke was meant to scare away stormy clouds. Hence, cloth made of nettle must have been considered a protective, revered material to adorn oneself.

To top it up, nettle was known for medicinal uses as well; used to treat bleeding or infected wounds to cite a few, as mentioned in Hippocrates texts. There were plenty of benefits for a plant growing spontaneously in ditches or woods and our ancestors were no fools in exploiting the plant.

Nettle fibres were long used to produce ropes or nets as it has a very good strength and is water resistant and does not rot easily. In Kamchatka, fishermen were using it for netting, because it was so light and water resistant, truly being the only fibrous plant available for them to feed such needs. In Central Europe, people used nettle fibres to make sieves for flour sifting.

The newly rediscovered nettle yarns available on the market now are sourced in Nepal, from a giant nettle (Girardinia diversifolia), growing to the impressive height of 3 metres at least. Though European nettle was widely used for a very long time until cheaper cotton and silk took over. In Poland, nettle textiles were very popular until the 17th century. Actually since the 12th century, the nettle was used there in large quantities to make fabrics. It was due to its delicacy to skin that nettle was beating flax or hemp as a cloth of choice for next to skin clothing. Also nettle was much cheaper than silk which was only affordable for people of means.

Nettle was also used in Scandinavia. It was found in a Viking ship, so possibly nettle was used for nets. In 18th century Scandinavia, nettle fabric returned and local nettle fibres along with imported ramie were used to produce finely woven dresses. I came across a record from 1813 of a woman form Feyn in Denmark, who had woven 21 ells (24 metres) of linen and ticking from nettle. The following year, she had turned 2 stones of nettle fibres into 12 pocket handkerchieves, 20 metres of checked linen and 14 metres of bed ticking. That is an impressive, real account of what used to be made of European nettle.camira nettle

In Britain, there is a term “Scotch cloth” that refers to a fabric made of nettle. Nettle was popular in Scotland for many centuries. Thomas Campbell, 19th century poet, wrote: “In Scotland, I have eaten nettles, I have slept on nettle sheets, and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth. The stalks of the old nettle are as good as flax for making cloth. I have heard my mother say that she thought the nettle cloth more durable than any other species of linen”. It is a beautiful tribute to that prickly plant.

There is more evidence of nettle being considered to have magical qualities. You must remember Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about a girl who wove nettle shirts to bring back her 11 brothers who were turned into swans. Obviously, turning the prickly plant into silky smooth cloth was like a magic for people.

Coming back to the real world and more recent history, nettle made a comeback again during WWI in Germany. There the cotton supplies dried up as the British Empire ruled the seas and sourcing cotton from overseas was nearly impossible. Germans had to find another sustainable source of cloth suitable to sew uniforms for soldiers. It is said that nettle was used for that purpose as well as to make sandbags. It is mentioned that Germans used dye made of nettle as well.

IMG_20160102_124400Nowadays, you can find ready to weave nettle fibre easily online but all of them are made of the aforementioned Himalayan giant nettle. This fibre is also known as Allo. Fibre and cloth are produced in a traditional way in Nepal locally boosted by fair trade initiatives. There is ongoing research into growing European nettle for fabric production, but for now I have no knowledge of any producer of European nettle fibre. One challenge being the set up of large scale farms to grow and harvest the crop. With growing interest into sustainable and local alternatives to cotton, which is heavy on the environment, I believe it is just a matter of time for European nettle to come back.