Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where I bought my flax seeds for 2015

When I first started growing flax, I bought my flax-for-linen seeds from The Hermitage. They sell Marylin variety of seeds from the Netherlands, which is one of the main varieties for linen flax. The only problem I had was that the seed came coated in nasty chemicals meant to prohibit diseases that flax is prone to.

I didn't really like that idea, so I saved my seeds from one year's crop to plant the next year. This worked well, but I didn't produce quite enough seed last year to plant my regular amount. I searched for a source of fiber flax seed that was uncoated. It was hard to find, but I did find a source of uncoated Marylin flax seed. The original source of the seed is again the Netherlands, but the shop from which I bought the seed is in the U.K. The shop is Wild Fibres. Click HERE for the link to their flax seed page.

I have about 5 ounces of my own seed saved, plus 8 ounces from Wild Fibers. I'm very happy and can't wait for planting time. I usually plant 8 ounces, so I should have plenty for this year.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Last year's flax crop is finally ready to spin!

I finally got all of my 2014 flax crop broken, scutched and hackled. I was late in planting last year, and therefore late in harvesting and late in getting the crop retted. By the time the flax was dry from retting, I only had a small amount of time to start the rest of the processing before winter weather set in. Now that spring has sprung and the snow has finally melted, I've been outside finishing what should have been done last fall. Now I''m hoping to get it spun up before gardening starts in earnest. 

My 2013 crop yielded 7.2 ounces and about 800 yards of fine, two-ply linen yarn. I'm hoping to get around 500 yards from the 2014 crop. Cross your fingers!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The lucet, old tech meets new tech

Our library has acquired a 3-D printer. They held a class the other day on how to design things and submit them to the printer. Printed items cost 10 cents per gram, which is very reasonable because the filament used in the printing is very light. There were items on display, one of which was a recorder (the musical instrument). It weighed 18 grams and I estimated that this would be similar to a  printed drop spindle, so the cost would be about $1.80 for something like a printed drop spindle. The item that we ended up printing from the class that day was free, however.
I didn't end up printing a drop spindle because I thought it would have to be printed out in two pieces, so I decided on a lucet, which is a tool from medieval time used for making decorative cordage to put on clothing, etc.
I tried designing one, but didn't really have the time (the class was only an hour long, most of which was taken up with learning how to use Tinkercad, the design program). So instead I went to a recommended site ( and found an already-made design for a lucet. I scaled it to what I thought was about 6 inches by 3 inches, but when it printed out it was half those dimensions. Don't know why exactly, but it actually works really well with some of my handspun silk, which is really fine.
So here is my lucet with the silk cord I'm making with some of my naturally-dyed, handspun silk:
Using a lucet is easy and brainlessly addictive. I'm really happy with my tiny tool. Next I'm thinking I might want to print out some needlebinding needles with the 3-D printer. You can only print two things out per month right now, which may be revised once they get a feel for what the demand will be like for the printer. I've also found already-made designs for spinning wheel bobbins. It's fun to think about applying this new tech to print out old tech tools!