Nettle Magic

The Wild Swans- Illustration IrenHorrors
Crush the nettles with your feet and you will have flax, 
which you must spin and weave into shirts 
of mail with long sleeves. 
Once you throw these over the bewitched wild swans,
 the spell over them is broken
The Wild Swans, Hans 
Christian Andersen Hersholt, J. (2015)

According to Flintoff (2009), it takes about 40 KG of nettles to make a shirt. This means the little princess would have had to harvest 100m2 of nettles per shirt to free her brothers from the spell, which turned them into swans. One might feel sorry too for the princess’s brothers, having to wear quite itchy nettle shirts. However, the surprising truth is that once nettles are processed a certain (very time consuming) way, their fibre can be as soft and luxurious as the finest silk.

Sample produced by Ms Catherine Guilder, for the Weald and Downland Museum course 'From Sting to String", 2017