Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Using Tow Flax

When processing flax, most of it becomes tow flax - the shorter fibers that stay behind in the hackles when hackling the flax. So you have a lot of this shorter stuff, much of which is quite nice.
Lately, I've been hankering to use my tow flax and have been experimenting with blends. I made a small sample blend of flax, cotton and silk. I carded the fibers and spun it up into a few yards and then knitted a small swatch. It was very nice, but a cat found it during the night and took it off somewhere, probably the basement to its hidey-hole, so I don't have any pictures of that swatch. 
I really liked the linen/cotton/silk blend, but decided I wanted to stick to all-plant-based fibers for a project I have in mind. So I tracked down some ramie, which is a bast fiber gotten from a type of nettle. I used my hand cards to make a small sample of a roughly 33/33/33 blend of flax, cotton and ramie. I spun the blend up into a few yards of a 3-ply yarn.
Below you can see the materials and the resultant swatch (click on the pictures to see them larger): 
Tow flax, cotton, ramie, and the blend in a knitted swatch.

And here is a closer look at the swatch:

Linen, cotton, ramie blend, approx. 33/33/33.

The linen/cotton/ramie is also a very nice blend. The project I have in mind for it is the Leksak Lady, found on Ravelry. The pattern calls for worsted weight, which I think would be a bit heavy in this blend, so I'm hoping I can successfully alter the pattern for a thinner gauge of yarn. If not, then I'll search for another suitable pattern for this yarn.

I'm planning on dyeing the yarn with natural dyes, possibly goldenrod or tesu or onion skins for a nice golden yellow color.

Anyway, that's how I'm hoping to use the tow flax I have on hand right now. The resulting yarn should be comfy and breathable. 

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