In many of our backpacks, himalayan nettles (allo) are used. Before allo can be used in our product, it is first processed by hand in small villages in the mountains of Nepal. The manufacture of Allo is a rich indigenous tradition that has been carried out by the local population for centuries. The bark of Allo is used for a variety of woven products, namely clothing, bags, bags, tablecloths, blankets, etc. Today, the processing of Allo provides work for many Nepalese and also for the makers of our backpacks. Allo is a good example of traditional Nepalese craft in the modern eco-friendly textile market.
Processing of Allo (Himalayan Nettle)
Allo is extracted from the Allo Susni plant, but because the plant grows between 900 and 2500 meters above sea level, most areas are difficult to access for harvesting. It takes a few days to travel to the forest, harvest Allo, and return with a load of Allo bark. The strains are laid down for several days after harvesting to dry and then it is peeled off. The peeling removes the outer bark and leaves the inner bark intact for further processing.
The spinning is done with the help of a wooden hand spindle, called Katuwa, or with a spinning wheel, “Charkha”.
The next step involves cooking the inner bark in a barrel of ash from wood to lighten and soften the fibers. This takes about 2-3 hours. After cooking, a repetitive process of hitting with a wooden hammer on the bark in water follows to loosen the fibers, this normally occurs in a stream or river. The bundles of clean fibers are now placed in the sun to dry. When this is done, it is further soaked in water and mixed with ground corn (most commonly in the western part of Nepal), or Kamero (locally available white clay with mica) to get a nice white sparkle. Finally, the fibers are extracted using simple household items such as tongs and, once the fibers are soft, it is spun into yarn.
Especially women are involved in all stages of collecting and processing Allo. The spinning is done either with the help of a wooden hand spindle, called Katuwa, or with a spinning wheel, “Charkha”. Charkha has two variants: The hand-operated “haate” or foot-operated “khutte”. The process of manually spinning the fibers is a monotonous activity and can take a long time. Fortunately, more power-driven machines are being used in the areas where electricity is available. In this way, the productivity of the micro-enterprises can increase significantly.