Sunday, July 14, 2013

My retted flax is out of the water and drying after 4 days

Blogspot seems to have partially recovered from its hissy fit (though I still can't go back and edit, so sorry for any typos).

Here's a picture of my flax out of the retting 'tank', AKA green bin, today. I'm not sure if it's completed the retting process, but according to what I read it's better to take it out partially retted and try scutching (once it's dry) only to find it's not retted enough, than to over-rett and thereby ruin the crop. Encyclopedia Britannica says that traditionally flax was twice retted.

The water in the 'tank' had become very green and yesterday developed a white scum on top. It smelled a little, but mostly a kind of hay/silage smell, so not bad at all.

I removed it and put it in the sun to dry, based on 3 pieces of info abut when retting is complete:

1. When the stem makes a snap sound when you twist it around your finger in the water. Retting begins from the root end so you should try there first and also 6-10cm higher up.

2. when you can break the stalk and see the fibres coming away.

3. When you can remove the outer stalk with a fingernail and see the fibres exposed.

Mine did #2 and #3, but only the root end snapped when I twisted it and there was a smaller snap 6cm up the plant.

I decided to take it out and try scutching some. If I don't get any linen fibres, then back in the water it goes.

Some of  the advice I read says to change the retting water after 48 hours and then every 24 hours after that. Some advice says no need to change the water at all...............

Here's the flax a few hours after it came out of the water. You can see it's starting to get that golden colour of water retted flax, but only the bottom third of the plant. Perhaps I haven't retted it long enough for the top of the plant to change............................?


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