I untied the bundles and spread the flax on the concrete of my patio. I sprayed it with the hose before bed for two nights and left it to dry in the sun. Seems to have finished the retting process nicely.
I think that the Encyclopedia Britannica might be right about retting twice being a good idea. Flax that has been over-retted is a right-off. It's unusable. Retting in water is risky because you need to check so often to see if it's 'done'. Better to partially rett in water, dry it, then finish off the 'dew' (hose) method. That's much easier to control. I assume the bacteria needed to rot the green part from the flax is already on the stems from the water retting, so additional water in the form of a spray from a hose, just reactivates the breakdown process.
We spent part of Monday night at UW this week (in between making felt) sanding the parts of the flax brake. The wooden scutching knife is complete. Many thanks to Martin Borden for all the hard work.
I had a try at processing the flax, braking it by hand in single strands, then getting rid of the shive on my knee with the scutching knife. Finally, I tried using the ripple to hackle it and this was partially successful. I have some partly teased out fibres. Hopefully my Shropshire hackle will arrive next week!
Meanwhile, check out the flax events happening at Aberthau. They're at the end of the Events post - the first one that opens on this blog.