In January I went to Warsaw and spent one afternoon checking out few shops with natural fabrics to inquire about nettle or hemp samples.
I didn’t manage to google any shops myself, but with a little tip off from the old friend, I started at a fabric shop in Mokotow. It was recommended as the long established and well supplied shop for all those with zeal for tailoring or home sewing. Astonishingly, the place was buzzing on Saturday afternoon with all types of customers, from older ladies trying to find a fabric matching the existing outfits to funky dressed younger crowds scouring for some unique pieces. I was taken in with their stock, unfortunately only natural local cloth I came across was Polish linen.
Nevertheless, I was prompted to call in to another linen shop, just two tram stops away. Before hopping on a tram, we popped in the adjacent shop, enticed by interesting and quite eclectic stuff, like second hand or recycled fabrics, hand made laces and oddish clothing.
The next linen shop in Mokotow, looked like run by one family and it had nothing of hemp or nettle though the owner was quite intrigued by my inquiry. As he walked us to the door, he admitted that since he runs the shop for 20 years, no one ever came by to ask about fabric made of nettle.
It didn’t dampen our spirits, we simply loved the tram ride up north towards Centrum – it was bright sunny winter day and you can feel Saturday buzz of the city. We changed by Politechnika for metro, again changed for a new metro line and resurfaced right on Aleja Jana Pawla.
On the next stop off Hala Mirowska – the old indoor market hall, we visited another fabric shop. We were told it is a must to see since it opened in PRL times and still continues the same style of service. It was bizarre to step into the past, all display and older ladies selling the cloth as they used to for decades. Once you decide on fabric, it will get measured, cut and you receive a hand scribbled piece of paper to take to a cashier across the shop to pay. Though this time, no nettle or hemp fabric was available and with no smile on her face the lady bid us goodbye.
Tracing our footsteps from years before, we strolled to a last linen shop on our list, situated right on Marszalkowska. The owner was closing for the day but she let us in. It stocks Polish linen only, fabrics and ready made outfits alike and it turned out the owner was quite chatty and well informed. Although, she could not help me in my research on Polish nettle fabric as such, but mentioned a company producing a hemp clothing, possibly from Lodz, and encouraged me to check out the Polish Chamber of Flax and Hemp.
It was a quite productive Saturday afternoon, funny and filled with trips down the memory lane. Warsaw was buzzy, filled with tram noises and getting ready for Saturday night fun. I truly felt like I got a few good leads to follow in my research. And a cherry on my cake was the Saturday evening in beautiful Warsaw just starting as the sun was setting and the lights were turning on.