The Nettle Dress (2023)
October 11, 2023 1:19 PM - Subscribe

After the death of his wife, textile artist Allan Brown embarks on a seven-year endeavour to weave a hand-spun dress from stinging nettles foraged in the woods surrounding his home.

This is a documentary, as described above. The film's website is here. You can also watch the trailer at YouTube, and an interview with the director. It was partly funded through Kickstarter. They made an earlier short film about the textile processes, which is on Vimeo.

Positive reviews from Tradfolk, Film Review, The Financial Times and The Guardian. The FT does note "Yet there is a tone of hushed piety that’s a little bit irritating over the long haul. There is also something telling about the fact that this is a film about a male artist making a dress while women have been practising the very same craft for thousands of years".

Allan Brown is on Instagram and Dylan Howitt has a website. Brown writes about the process of making the dress at Dark Mountain. There is an academic article about nettle fibre here, by Dr Rachna Mohan (journal may be predatory but article looks like a reasonable summary of nettle textiles).

I was fortunate to see the film in a reconstructed roundhouse, to hear a Q&A with Howitt and Brown, and to be able to touch the dress (thicker fabric than I expected). I enjoyed it and it made me think about the folk tale The Six Swans, but I did also think the things the FT reviewer did.
posted by paduasoy (7 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In foraging terms, nettles have quite a brief period in the year when they are really tasty to cook with, then they get too tough. So using that quality to spin a fabric sounds like like it would be a wonderful idea (I say as somebody who knows nothing about weaving). I would love to see this.
posted by rongorongo at 12:26 AM on October 12, 2023

I missed this recent interview with Brown, which also has a picture of Bonnie, the dog who is in the film (there also is a cat who shows up briefly a couple of times).

I think he said in the film that he picks the nettles in autumn, then rots them down over the winter, though I may be misremembering.
posted by paduasoy at 12:46 AM on October 12, 2023

OMG I am a spinner and a lover of Stinging nettle I could not finish the interview. Paduasoy is the film tough? Or is it a documentary on the process mostly? I AM super excited but I don't get upset easy and this pushes all my feels!
posted by mrgroweler at 8:30 AM on October 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

I couldn't wait ticket purchased and donated 10 pounds extra!
posted by mrgroweler at 8:34 AM on October 12, 2023

mrgroweler, I don't think I'd say I found it upsetting exactly, but the stuff about his wife is affecting - there is a scene with the children where they are looking at photographs of their mother, but they bring a lot of joy to that as well. Will be interested to know what you think when you watch it.
posted by paduasoy at 9:31 AM on October 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

I hope they find a US distributor, or do streaming after the theatrical run in the UK winds up. I’d like to see it.
posted by janell at 11:23 PM on October 12, 2023

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