Monday, August 6, 2012

The first of the flax is in

I pulled a bit of my flax today. This is one of the two bundles I pulled:

The two bundles represent about 1/8 of what I have growing. Keep in mind that only about 10% of the flax plant produces flax fiber, and only 3% of that is the nice, long stuff that can be used to make linen. The other 7% is tow, which is short fibers which can be used to make more utilitarian things (like rope, I think, and probably rough cloth).

I'll be pulling the rest of the flax later this week. I'm just nervous that I'm doing it too soon, so I only pulled these two bundles today. Traditionally, the pulled flax is set in upright stacks which are left to dry in the field for about a week before the retting process begins. I'll let my bundles dry out in my warm, dry garage before heading into the retting stage.

I found a very helpful group of videos about the stages of flax processing, the first of which, about pulling flax, can be found here.

My flax isn't as tall as it could be. Gardening in general has been a bit of a challenge for me this year. The weather has been very hot, and I don't like heat. Keeping everything watered under drought conditions has been a big challenge, and our dog became ill with lymphoma. I spent a lot of time with him and less in the garden. We had to put him down three weeks ago, and I can tell you that it's been really hard. I'm just now beginning to care about the garden again and get back into the swing of things. He was always with me, either helping me outside, or sleeping nearby while I spun or did other wool or fiber work, so everything that I do reminds me that he's not there. Time heals all wounds, they say, so we'll just let time do its thing while I get back into the rhythm of the rest of the world.

On a happier note, my birthday is this month. My husband asked me yesterday what I want, so I'm trying to think of something really good to ask for : )


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to here that your dog died. That is so hard.

I hope that you have a happy birthday.

ICQB said...

Thank you, Anonymous.

janzi said...

I am absolutely gob smacked at the cleverness of you getting the fibres woven and knitted and dyed and now making linen, amazing... looking forward to seeing what else you are doing later in the year.. So sad to hear your dog had to go, but its such a hard decision. We did have the same to choose for our old dog who was 19, and I cried for over 2 days, couldnt believe I was so upset.. they get you by the heart strings dont they!!

ICQB said...

Hi janzi!

I'm looking forward to the whole linen process - crossing my fingers that all goes well!

I'm sorry to hear about your dog, too. 19 years! How wonderful! They do definitely get you by the heartsrings and become full-fledged members of the family.

Adrienne said...

I like your growing/spinning experiments! So sorry about your dog; his personality really came through in your posts.

I hope you get what you want for your birthday!

ICQB said...

Hi Adrienne!

Thank you, and I'm still thinking about what I want to ask for, for my birthday!