Dew-retting nettles, not a success

After a number of weeks, things appeared to have worked well.



This stem snapped easily and the fibrous outer peeled away. By my index finger there are some quite fluffy fibres. All good.

After separating what fibres I could from a number of stems, it became clear that the first one I picked up wasn't representative. Some peeled like rhubarb, the fibres in a thick ribbon, like blades of grass (I assume the retting hadn't worked well in those cases) and other stems had nothing, or a black mush that wasn't fibrous. Maybe in those cases the fibres had been eaten / rotted away, or the stems weren't good in the first place because I harvested late.

I noticed that the best ones felt slimy. This is backed up by the fact that when I left all the fibres I'd collected in water, they all turned slimy. I take this to be the bacterial / fungal action that we're after with the retting (if anyone reading this knows about these things and can confirm or deny this, please comment).

After soaking for a bit longer, I did have a fibrous material. But there were too many thicker fibres in there (maybe not separated / broken down) and trying to draft and twist them between my fingers produced what looked and felt like twisted grass - not what we were after.

When dry, they felt brittle and coarse. I decided to cheat on the 'apocalypse' idea and see what happened with carders (hoping the fibres would separate).



There are a few fibres on the carders. But a lot has just broken and flaked. I think it's fair to say that this hasn't been an unmitigated success.

I'm going to try again in the autumn, harvesting earlier and trying the quicker retting method in a trough or the bath.

Sheep Emotion Chart

Many pictures of sheep face (identical) labelled with different emotions.

 Yvonne now has her own Cafepress shop, so that you can support the author and at the same time, get some great sheepy kit; mugs, clothing, bags, mousemats, postcards, greetings cards and much more. If you don't see the design you'd like on the item you'd like, just contact me!

If I were yarn...

Thanks to Nadia for asking.

Definitely wool and only wool. Not complex or fancy but plain and straightforward. Natural, undyed.

The  breed would be Norfolk Horn. A rare breed, originating from the beautiful rural county, known to be flighty. The wool isn't known for being soft and fine. Maybe scratchy at times. But resilient and practical. And warmth when required.


Yvonne, Monday 13 Dec

Yvonne the sheep doesn't condone taking drugs. (That morning coffee aside.)

Sheep in a field. Caption says Smoking grass: overrated

Yvonne #3

Yvonne the sheep is plain talkin' and has no truck with modern sanitary ideas.


Two sheep, caption says Just eat round it. I've always poo'd where I stand and I always will

Yvonne the sheep

I started drawing Yvonne the sheep today, and the silly ideas just flowed. Here's the first one, I may publish them more than once a week at handspinner.co.uk/yvonne if I can keep thinking them up!


Kylo Ren knitting chart

After seeing the Force Awakens hat pattern (free pattern, folks) I was a little sad to see no Kylo Ren in there, so set about attempting a chart myself.

If there's any interest I don't mind drawing the pattern out properly.