The yarn is made from the fiber of nettle stems. It is created in much the same that flax is spun into linen yarn - the stems are harvested and retted to remove the flesh, and the remaining fiberous strands are then carded and spun into yarn.
The yarn is hand-spun in rural Nepal by local women on drop-spindles. It’s a natural plant fibre, made in a very simple, traditional, pre-industrial method. The hand-spinning results in a yarn with a lovely undulating texture. The thickness, twist and texture varies gently with the natural material and the hands that make it. The undyed palette ranges from pale bleached bone, through silvery greys with the slightest hint of pink, to rich honey and amber colours.
For her one-off woven pieces, Pritchard uses the yarn as an extra weft - allowing it to float across the surface of the cloth. It is anchored into the structure of fabric with a fine extra-warp at intervals, but for most of its length it lies on top of the cloth. The nettle yarn has quite a high-twist - like a coiled spring, it holds potential energy within its twist. Letting it float over the cloth allows the yarn to hold this quality. Once woven and cut off the loom the pieces are then washed - a process which allows the yarn to relax and move. Immediately it twists and turns, forming little curling spirals and eddies - bringing the pieces alive.
Text and images courtesy of Eleanor Pritchard.
Find out more about Eleanor Pritchard's work: