Sunday, July 14, 2013
My retted flax is out of the water and drying after 4 days
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...............