Friday, May 31, 2013

Weeding your flax - now's a good time

Don't know about your flax, but ours is 10cm tall now, so we're going to take off our shoes and weed the plots.
It's important not to tread on the seedlings because they don't recover well from being knocked over - hence barefoot weeding. You only need to do this once, and since the weather will be sunny from Sunday for a few days, this is a good time.
You need to remove the weeds because they compete with the flax for light, water and soil nutrients, also it's much easier to harvest without weeds in the crop.
No rain means I can also bike or bus out to the Jericho plot and take some photos. I hear that Caitlin and Sharon have been working hard sowing the flax and planting the dye/food plant seedlings grown by the Park Board, so I can't wait to see it. I'll be taking along my pruning shears to tidy up the willow spinning wheel while I'm there. I'll post pictures of the plot next time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Handspun and handwoven Eastern European linens on sale at Le Marche, Vancouver

If you want to eat at a great cafe and get a look at some great linens, you only need to go as far as 28th and St George. I was taken there by a friend this week.

Le Marche cafe has a collection of towels, tablecloths and tea towels for sale, all in natural flax colour or bleached. If you want to get a feel for what you can produce with your flax, this is the place to go - the food excellent too!

(photograph courtesy of Le Marche)


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Urban Cloth Project website for all things linen in Vancouver

I've been having some problems with using this blogspot because of my refusal to acquiesce to Evil Google's terms for downloading Chrome.

Because of that I'm now posting all the Flax Project posts on wordpress too, at

So if you want to see all the flax posts only, that's the place to go. It will also be where all the flax growing and processing information will go to when I take my leave and hand the project over to Caitlin and Sharon later this year, after harvest.

That process has already started. I turn 60 this year and have decided to take things more slowly. I don't have the energy I used to. Sharon and Caitlin have energy enough between them to power a small continent for a year. Wait until you read about the things they have planned on August 17th at the Aberthau flax and dye plant plot!

More about this in a later post..................

More about Sharon here:
More about Caitlin here:


Water your flax - but not as much as your cotton!

This hot weather is great for flax germination but we're all having to water our seedlings. This first two to three weeks after planting is pretty much the only time you'll need to water the crop, and the weather is going to turn cloudy and rainy at the weekend, so no more water will be needed then.

A flax shirt takes 6.4 L of water to grow and produce. A cotton T shirt takes 2,700 L. That's the amount of water one person drinks in three years. For more on how unsustainable this is read about how cotton production drained the Aral Sea

As you will have noted as you prepped the soil for your flax, it needs very little nitrogen based fertilizer. Cotton is what's known as a 'greedy feeder', needing large amounts of nitrogen and unless you're producing organic cotton, all of that nitrogen is processed from oil. It's the 3rd highest user of nitrogen of all the crops (including food crops) we grow worldwide.

You may also have noticed that I haven't mentioned any pesticides you need to add to your growing flax. That's because it doesn't need any, unlike cotton which uses 25% of the total world's pesticides in its production

Find more information about cotton productionand the pesticides and toxic chemicals used in its production here,

As you'll see by August, linen can be produced without any chemicals at all.

A linen shirt has a LCA (Lifecycle Assessment - the amount of a resource it will use from production, through wearing until it is discarded) of 130g of greehouse gases. A cotton T shirt (with less fabric) has an LCA of 410g of GHG.

I personalised this linen shirt, bought at Value Village by embroidering on it. The embroidery says Sown, grown, rippled, retted, scutched, hackled, spun, wovem, bleached, sewn. LCA 6.4L of water 130g GHG. I wanted to remember how much work and energy went into it, and why buying clothing second hand is so much more sustainable than buying new. And shipping our second hand clothing around the world to the countries who manufacture them, but are too poor to buy them new, just adds to the carbon footprint and destroys the local weaving traditions and ethnic clothing.

70% of the LCA of all your clothing is down to you. Only 30% of the GHG of a piece of clothing comes from its production and manufacture, the rest is down to your washing and drying. If you want to seriously reduce your GHG production than you need to wash in cold water, and always air dry (because most of that GHG is from using the drier).


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Antique flax hackle, and don't forget to water your flax seeds in this sunny weather

The flax hackle arrived in the mail today, all the way from Texas.

Thanks to Jo Ann, for sending it.

These things are as rare as hen’s teeth since the only maker of them in North America has become ill. This one looks like a coarse hackle to me - not that I'm an expert), so we're still looking for a medium or fine one if anyone sees anything like this. If you do, let Urban Weaver know and we'll snap it up immediately.

It has hand forged spikes about 6cm long, and the hackle part is about 10 x 4cm. It's pretty heavy.

We're having some pretty dry weather, so don't forget to water your flax seeds.

 Mine are already germinating (I planted 13 days ago), so this is a vulnerable time for them.