Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We have all the processing equipment now and started turning flax into gold

We now have all the equipment needed for flax processing and spent last night making our own linen - very exciting!
This is Sharon using the antique Doukhobor ripple to get the seed heads off the flax.

Martin is using his beautiful hand made flax brake and Sharon is using the scutching knife he also made. The brake is way more efficient at breaking up the dried pith inside the flax stems, and the scutching knife pulls the broken pith pieces from the stems, ready for hackling.

Here's what scutched flax stems look like.

Sharon is whipping those scutched stems through our coarse hackle, the fine hackle can be seen in the background, and the scutching knife in the foreground.

The hackle separates the fibres in the stems and pulls out any short weak fibres. The fine hackle separates the fibres into finer ones, only we found ours didn't make out linen as fine as the sample I bought from Victoria Flax2Linen. Is it our processing technique, something in the growing, retting not long enough, or something else? We don't know, but hope to get some answers ar Aberthau on August 15th when Victoria Flax2Linen come to give advice and spin with us (details of this in the Events post at the start of the UW blog).

Sharon is already spinning flax into gold like Rumplestiltskin, despite this being her first try! You can get a very fine thread if you wet your fingers. She's using a home made spindle made from a chop stick and a circle of wood (for the whorl). I wove the thread into another sample on the spot.

More processing to be done next week at the field house on the day of the full moon.


PS It was very cool how many people stopped by to see what we were doing and to join in. Some of our older Chinese neighbours clearly knew what we were doing and demonstrated the techniques they used to use. A young girl came past and asked if we were making linen - she'd seen the flax growing in the park and last night saw it made into cloth.

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