Tuesday 25 May 2010

A Weekend Of Weather To Dye For!

The weather over the weekend was just perfect and I was wishing for six months of continual sunshine until I realised hose pipe bans would soon be followed by severe drought!!

We had a great time at Greenwich Craft Market where we were delighted to meet Chiara (pictured below modeling Sorazora's Natural Millefeuille Salopettes). Chiara is from Italy and currently studying contemporary dance in London.

One other customer who we would like to contact is a young lady from Ireland who visited us on Sunday and bought a natural dye T-shirt from our shop. We are sorry, but we forgot to give you washing instructions!! If you see this please contact us!

Petanko Cap

Today's product upload is this light and comfy cap. To view more images and product details, click here!

Loose & Comfy fit!! 

"Petanko" means flat in Japanese. 
The main body of the hat is made from a light, soft cotton fabric that has been loosely handloomed. 
The top part is crocheted with Hemp and Cotton blended yarn. 
There is a linen crochet detail along the edges of the brim and the top edges of the cap.

Without feeling tight, this soft cap is ideal for many hours of wearing.

Friday 21 May 2010

Picnic Rainbow Pochette

Today's new product upload is our Picnic Rainbow Pochette. 

A little nettle pochette with 2 way use!! 

This little chubby drawstring bag is made from himalayan fabrics. For the main body there is a choice of two fabrics, either handloomed nettle & cotton (A:Nettle White) or 100% nettle that is handspun and handwoven in remote villages in Nepal (B:Nettle Brown). 

The front pockets are made of Himalayan Hemp and the drawcord is crocheted hemp & cotton. The shoulder strap is adjustable so that you can set the bag in a perfect position. There is a cut pocket at the back and a clip which allows 2 way use. The shoulder strap can be removed and this bag can be clipped to a belt hoop.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Shanti High Shoulder

Today's product upload is this shoulder bag crafted from Himalayan fibres. 

Big enough yet compact enough... 

...shoulder bag born from organic himalayan fibres!!

This charming drawstring bag is made of Himalayan Hemp and Nettle, both are handspun and handwoven in remote villages in Nepal. The front pockets are made of handloomed knit fabric and the drawcord is crocheted hemp & cotton. The shoulder strap is adjustable so that you can set the bag in a perfect position. There is a cut pocket at the back that is useful for train tickets or mobile phones.

Take lunch with you and let's go on a picnic!!

Tuesday 18 May 2010

The Nettle In Nepal "Allo"

In the mountains of Nepal, Nettle has been used for centuries because of its strength and durability. it is indigenous and regenerates quickly after harvesting. it grows like a weed and requires no irrigation, pesticides or mechanical processing. It is one of the best green fibres with an enviable environmental profile. Known locally as "Allo", Himalayan Giant Nettle occurs naturally as a forest undergrowth and on land unsuitable for farming between the altitudes of 1500m to 3000m.
The bark is stripped, which can be later used for basket weaving. The inner fibres are boiled and simmered overnight in a solution of water and wood ash before being beaten and rubbed in soil to help separation. After the fibres have been dried in the sun, they are spun on a hand spindle. This spinning process is time consuming and may take one person one day to produce 100 grammes of nettle yarn.

A great number of Nepal's population live in the hill areas and self sufficiency is usually a necessity. Nettle is a valuable raw material that provides a source of food, medicine, fodder and most importantly fibre. With farms unable to provide food all year round, nettle fibre provides the necessary income to ensure there is food on the table all through the year. One village that is well known as a nettle fibre producing area is Sankhuwasava which lies about 60km South-East of Mt. Everest. Sankhuwasava is an area that interests us greatly and provides some of our products, for example our 100% nettle shawl. Sankhuwasava is the subject of a very informative book written by Susi Dunsmore, titled "The Nettle In Nepal" it provides details of all aspects of harvesting , production and the farmer's lifestyle. This book comes highly recommended to those with an interest in nettle or traditional textile crafts. Through the promotion of Himalayan Giant Nettle we believe nettle can become a valuable commodity for the villagers and an international demand for this fibre would guarantee a stable income. This income would be vital for ensuring the continuation of traditional skills and improve access to some of life's basic needs, ie. healthcare and education.

Natural fibres, Natural dyes and Original designs. sorazora.com

One Love Festival

Sorazora has been confirmed as one of the exhibitors at this year's One Love Festival. Based on the original One Love Peace concert of 1978, this festival pays homage to Bob Marley and continues his message of One Love - One Heart. Held in Hainault Forest Country Park from 6th to 8th August, One Love Festival 2010 is a family festival in its third year. For more details on this event please visit their website.

!00% Nettle Long Top

Today's new product to be uploaded is this stylish top made completely from NETTLE!

Simply natural & breathable... 100% nettle fabric summer top!! 

This sophisticated yet simple long top is made of 2 kinds of nettle fabric.
The combination of the two natural undyed tones contrast beautifully and the neckline is deep so that your favourite jewellery shines. The addition of two front pockets that tie in with the garment's design add function to this unique long top.

"Himalan Giant Nettle" is called "Allo" in Nepalese. In the mountains of Nepal, allo has been used for centuries because of its strength and durability. it is indigenous and regenerates quickly after harvesting. it grows like a weed and requires no irrigation, pesticide or mechanical harvesting. It is a green fibre with an enviable environmental profile. Unlike our common stinging nettle, "allo" can grow to three metres in height and has the longest natural fibre. This fibre is a valuable resource found only in the Himalayas and provides many Nepalese villagers with a stable livlihood. 

Enjoy the gifts of nature...

Thursday 13 May 2010

Camden Green Fair

Sorazora have been confirmed as one of the exhibitors at this year's Camden Green Fair which is being held on Sunday the 6th of June. We hope to see you all there! To learn more about the event, click here!

For nearly 20 years the Camden Green Fair has been inspiring visitors to take steps towards a greener lifestyle. Live music and performances, exhibitions and workshops, fun and food combine to attract more than 20,000 visitors annually to this award-winning environmental event. Held in the heart of London against the stunning backdrop of Regent’s Park, Camden Green Fair 2010 will be the Green Event of the year. The Camden Green Fair & Bikefest reflects the diversity, culture and green aspirations of London – be part of it.

Dyeing With Onion Skins

After many months of drying out and keeping all our unwanted onion skins, today we were rewarded with a new colour for our collection.
Using 100% raw silk shawls that had been mordanted with alum, we produced a beautiful golden yellow. Although we had expected this colour, we are very pleased with the results.
The colour produced contrasts well with the green that can be achieved using red onion skins and the blue from red cabbage.
One possible experiment for the near future would be overdyeing this golden yellow with indigo to produce various greens.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Hempwool To Dye For!

During our three month production period in Kathmandu, many trips to Lagnakeil were made to visit a workshop run by a dyeing and weaving master. Kiran has a solid understanding of the chemical reactions required for successful natural dyeing and is always experimenting new methods. He has a small facility for dyeing at his home and just a short walk away is his hand weaving factory, which is full of Jacquard looms and more simpler hand looms. What makes our working relationship a real pleasure are his keenness to explain in detail what can be achieved with various dyestuffs and mordants and his environmental beliefs. His work requires little electricity and is therefore not at the mercy of load shedding. (Load Shedding is the name for the scheduled power cuts which are common place all year round in Nepal.) Just a few low wattage light bulbs provide ample lighting in his weaving factory and an electric iron for pressing fabrics after washing, everything else requires good old fashioned manpower.

Kiran is the man behind our naturally dyed hemp wool (and hand weaving) and this year we were welcome to oversee his work and ask as many questions as we liked.
One difference between production last year and this year is the absence of the mordant copper sulphate. This strong chemical mordant was previously used when dying with cutch wood, but we opted for a different shade with the use of alum as a mordant. Copper sulphate will no longer be used by us in the production of any natural dyes. In terms of dyestuffs, we stuck with the usual suspects listed in the table below.

Our hempwool is a mix of 50% hemp and 50% New Zealand wool, the hemp provides durability to the yarn and a slightly coarser feel which we appreciate. We provide Kiran with undyed hanks of hempwool and it remains in a hank through the whole dyeing process. Dyestuffs are steeped whilst mordanting (with either alum or iron sulphate) is carried out ready for next day dyeing. Kiran takes great care and no short cuts in his work, if he feels a yarn would benefit from double dyeing then double dyed it will be. Double dyeing involves another dip in the mordant solution before entering the dye bath for a second time.
All pots and baths are made from copper, as aluminium can have an adverse effect on the finished results. The heating of dye baths and mordant baths is usually through firewood or a kerosene stove, "Having the option is important as here in Nepal you cannot rely on regular supplies of kerosene at a reasonable price," explains Kiran.

Upon completion, the hanks are returned to our hemp wool supplier where the hanks will be converted into 100gm balls and the labels we supply will be attached to each ball.
Our 100gm hempwool balls knit and crochet beautifully. Below is a sample crochet blanket that was created by Hiromi. As you can see, all the natural colours complement each other. As the blanket was crocheted using double yarn, it was possible to experiment further by using two different colours.

Monday 10 May 2010


The concept of using stinging nettles (Urtica doica) to
produce clothing is not new. Clothing made from nettle
fabric has been worn for the past 2,000 years. During
the 16th century, cotton was introduced to Europe which
led to nettle fabric losing its popularity. Why was this so?

For harvesting and spinning, cotton is far easier and
became a firm favourite for fabric manufacture. The last
time nettles were used in large scale production was
during the first world war. Germany found their trade
routes blocked and had to look closer to home for the
production of military equipment and uniforms. An
abundance of nettles in the German countryside forced a
return to nettle fabric. After the war and reopening of
international trade, the import of cotton resumed.

Cotton requires an exotic climate to flourish and with the
climate in the UK being far from exotic, cotton has to
travel long distances to reach our market. Main cotton
producing countries include China, India, Pakistan and
Sudan. Another disadvantage of cotton is the amount of
water required for its farming, It is a plant greedy for
water and nearly a quarter of all pesticides used in the
world are used in cotton farming. Nettle, however,
manages well without much water or protection from
pests or weeds. As I am sure you are aware, nettles
flourish well in the UK and can be found wild all over the

The world's over-reliance on cotton needs to be halted
with the manufacture of alternative crops. The
resurgence of nettle is beginning and I am sure it will
become even more relevant as we look to use more
sustainable environmentally friendly fabrics in our daily

At sorazora, nettle has already established itself as an
important member amongst our natural fibre collection.
As both a hand-spun fibre and a processed fibre, Giant
Himalayan Nettle (Girardina diversifolia) is widely used
across our range of products. This Spring/Summer
collection includes our first 100% nettle garment. 

Saturday 8 May 2010

Where does your clothing's colour come from?

  There are several laws that require clothing labels to detail information about textile fibre composition. This makes life easier for end consumers who care about the fibres used in their clothing. The information not required by law is the dye composition. With imports from developing countries flooding the market, I feel consumers should be made aware of how their bright red organic cotton T-shirt became bright red!

  I like to classify dyes as either natural or synthetic dyes. Compounds extracted from plants (or other naturally occurring sources) can be called natural dyes. Synthetic dyes are those that came into being  through technology. Considering two of the world's most polluting industries are synthetic dye manufacture and dye use, we have good reason to worry.

  Without a solid background in chemistry, the complete understanding of azo verses azo-free synthetic dyes is a little difficult, but basically azo dyes are synthetic dyes containing nitrogen atoms. Many  azo textile dyes can cause hypersensitivity and trigger existing allergies by being absorbed into the body through skin contact. Toxic dye production and use has already taken it's toll on rivers and  waterways in some developing countries that export to the rest of the  world. I am not convinced that third world dye houses are totally  unaware of the effect of allowing toxic waste to enter the local water  system. Education will always be important in helping to combat industrial pollution, but lack of enforcement still allows a large number of dye houses to continue putting profit above environmental issues.

  I have heard claims that azo-free dyes are 100% safe for the end user  and the environment. I certainly agree that the removal of azo  dyes will reduce the risk of health problems to the end user, but I am yet to be convinced that an exhausted synthetic azo-free dye bath will not have a negative effect on the environment if dumped into the water system. Natural dyes, on the other hand, are much safer to dispose of after use without damaging the earth.

  Sadly, it is left to the consumer to research all the facts. I still find it strange that organic textiles have already gained popularity, but little to no thought is given by the average consumer into the dyeing process. Surely these two issues should go hand in hand. At sorazora we believe in providing as much information as possible regarding fibres and dyes.

The above photo shows the Bagmati River flowing through central Kathmandu. Taken in January this year, it illustrates the problem of pollution caused by human, industrial and household waste.

Chilli Peppers Looking Good.

After being sown at completely the wrong time of year (November 2009) and being kept safe from frost, they seem to be doing well.
I currently have two varieties at this stage of growth, pictured below are what I believe to be Trinidad Scorpions. After the chillies come to fruition later in the year, I will be able to consult my good friend and chilli expert Paul Grant (from Fenn Creek Chillies) and hopefully confirm the variety. 
I will upload photos of the chillies later this year when I hope to have a bumper crop to dry out and powder. I plan to make my own shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice seasoning).

Shichimi is generally the following spices ground together in equal parts:

Dried hot chillies
Sansho (szechuan peppercorns)
Hemp seed
Sesame seed
Poppy seed
Dried orange peel
Roasted seaweed

Wednesday 5 May 2010


Today's upload are these cool dungarees. 
Earth friendly textures and colours from natural dyes...
into dungarees like Komorebi.

Komorebi means "the sun streaming through the leaves of trees". These straight line dungarees comprise of two different fabrics, a hemp and cotton blended fabric (that we produced through yarn dying this year, 2010) and a Himalayan nettle and cotton blended woven fabric. Available in three different shades.

The shoulder straps and the button hole strip are crocheted with hemp and cotton blended yarn and linen. The upper body's curved patches give a cozy ambience.

The perfect choice for an active lifestyle with a touch of elegance...!!!

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Komorebi Long Dress

Today's upload from our 2010 collection is this stylish dress. 

Earth friendly textures and colours from natural dyes...
...combine into a dress like Komorebi.

Komorebi means "the sun streaming through the leaves of trees". This sharp A line dress comprises of three different fabrics, a hemp and cotton blended fabric (that we produced through yarn dying this year, 2010) , a Himalayan nettle and cotton blended woven fabric, and hemp and cotton blended knit fabric.

The shoulder straps and the button hole strip are crocheted with hemp and cotton blended yarn and linen. The upper body's curved patches give a cozy ambience.

A casual but ellegant choice ...!!!

Sunday 2 May 2010

Natural Dango Hairpin

Our last upload today from our 2010 collection are these natural dyed felt hairpins. 

Named after Japanese rice flour dumplings, these beautifully coloured hairpins are made up of two felted woolen balls that have been naturally dyed. Because the felting process uses an alkaline soap, we dyed pre-felted wool. Attached as decoration to a hairpin, they'll add a natural colour to compliment any of our garments.

The overall length of each hairpin is 6cm with felt balls averaging 1cm in diameter.
With five different colour combinations to choose from, these hairpins are beautifully simple.

Natural World Pants

Today's upload from our 2010 collection are these cool and casual Natural World Pants. 
Nice and comfy... with beautiful leg lines...!!

These bell bottom trousers are made using two very special natural fabrics.
One is the hemp and cotton blended fabric that we produced from yarn dying this year, 2010. The other is a 100% Himalayan nettle fabric that is extremely rare and still a very new fabric in the world market.
The hemp and cotton blended fabric was manufactured by handloom in Nepal from dyed yarn.
Around the pockets and patches are decorated with handstitched veg-dye cotton.
All colours are of course natural dyes.

Natural hippie and comfy baggy style!! 

Saturday 1 May 2010

Mother Earth Camisole &

The first of today's uploads is this elegant camisole. 
Let the body breathe naturally... Simple & classic camisole top. 

The central body panel is made from 100% linen and the sides are a handwoven blend of Himalayan nettle and cotton. The simply crocheted linen shoulder straps are adustable with two small coconut buttons at the back. Five buttons at the front form the closure.

Enjoy the gifts of nature... 

The second product is our Diamond Cotton Top. 
On feeling this organic cotton fabric, anyone will fall in love with it!!

This organic cotton knit is an extremely soft fabric that gives an unbelievably comfy fit and is gentle to the touch. Pin tuck lines form the decorations accompanied with diamond shaped patches made from two different 100% Himalayan nettle fabrics. The high neck cut and cropped sleeves are...

...simply gorgeous!