Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Continuing progress in my growing flax for linen experiment

My flax-to-linen experiment continues. A few posts ago, I wrote about pulling the flax I grew this summer in a 5x10 ft. plot. I let the bundles dry for about two weeks:
When they were dry, I combed the seed pods off with combs I bought at the pet store which are really for dogs. Once the pods were off, over a few days, I mashed them up to release the seeds and winnowed the mess on windy days to come up with about two ounces of flax seeds.
It's probably a poor haul, but I think the drought affected productivity. I won't plant these next year, I'll order more for that purpose. These I'll sprinkle in muffins, etc. It's enough for a few batches of muffins, at least:

After removing the seed pods, I put the bundles of flax in a large plastic container, weighted them down with old paving bricks, and added water. I let them stew like this for just over a week. This is called retting the flax, which basically means getting the outer parts of the plant into a nice, rotted condition so that you can access the stronger flax fibers:


After the retting was done, I dumped the water out. Wow! What a smell!!
I rinsed each bundle with the hose, hoping against hope to rinse away some of that stench, and I now have all of the bundles laid out to dry:
Once they're dry, I can move on to breaking (breaking away the dried, rotted parts), scutching (swiping away the dried rotted parts that are still clinging to the flax fibers), and combing (with a flax hackle) the flax fibers so that they can be spun. More on all of this in future flax-to-linen posts!


Anonymous said...

Wow! It sounds like an interesting experience. I wish I could smell the stink just for curiosity. I hope your experiment is successful.

Kind regards.

ICQB said...

Hi Anonymous!
Thanks! and trust, me you really don't want to catch a whiff of that stink : )