Flax Study Group Part 2
In my Last post, we got up to the pulling of the flax plants, tying them in small bundles and laying them against the fence to dry. But this was not the worst fate for these unsuspecting plants. I was unable to attend this section of the processing but the rest of the group worked hard to Ripple and Winnow the flax.
The flax bundles were moved into the barn out of the rain Aug. 7th
August 10 Most of the flax group got together for a rippling and winnowing party. To Ripple the flax will separate the seed heads from the stocks. The flax from the first part of the harvest should provide the best fibre but the seed will not be as mature. The two sections we left till later should have coarser fibre but better seed viability.
We had a couple suggestions of how to get the seeds separated from the stocks. The use of two rakes did not work out well but Bernadetts’ description of pillow cases and rolling pins had a much better result.
Now that the flax stocks have been decapitated it’s time for winnowing. This will remove the chaff from the seeds. The instructions suggested a breeze was required. After a bit of experimentation it was determined a strong breeze or wind worked well.
Success, the seeds remain but almost all the chaff is gone.
There is worse in store for this poor unfortunate plant. At the end of the day it is thrown into a trough and weighted down with cinder blocks. This will not be a spa treatment or a mob execution. It will be a retting.
Day 1 Aug 10 the water is the colour of apple juice,
day 2 Aug 11 the colour of tea, then the retting really starts on Aug 13th.
Tuesday August 13 2019, 10:30 am
August 13 2019 5 PM
Aug 14 th
On Aug. 13 Cathy Louise tested a stock of the retting flax for separation of the boon from the stock. Some is still sticking to the fiber. so it needs a bit more cooking.
Aug 17 All the first batch was removed from the trough and moved to the field to dry.
Aug 17 the fibre is separating from the flax stalk.
On the Same day the second harvested batch went into the trough in the same water that had been used to rett batch one. There was hope that this would speed up the retting process. It seemed to have changed the colour (the second batch was darker than batch 1) but I’m not sure if it went faster. The final batch went into fresh water to rett after this batch was out.
another batch drying in the field
Batch 1 is now dry and is sent to the barn to await an even more terrible fate but first we had the guild Sale and exhibition in early November. So we took a brief paws.
A quick review: We tore the heads of the flax by stuffing them head-first in pillow cases and crushing them with rolling pins. Then took their severed heads and threw them skyward; letting the chaff separate from the seeds. Then off to a spa experience you would never want to experience. Submersion under cinder blocks until rotting starts. Next they were pulled out and left to dry over uncomfortable sticks in a field. Lastly bundled into the barn where they may be safe.
But wait! There is more indignity to come for the poor flax plant! it only gets more violent, We still have the breaks, skutching and hackles to deal with!! But I think I better make that part 3, I promise to have videos in the next installment. (And of course lots more violent fun fiber torture! I am sure it will all be worth it in the end!)