Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The challenges of flax...

So things have actually been going kind of well with the flax. I say kind of because I'm discovering all kinds of interesting little things about working with it... Like I need the right seat to use a distaff!

I forgot to take pictures while I was putting the flax on the distaff, but I can at least show part of the process...

First, we have the unhackled strick:

I'm working with the one on the left right now. Once I get this mastered, I'll switch to the right one. In the meantime, I'll get some good practice. :)

One of the things you have to do to flax is known as "hackling" it... Otherwise known as getting all the knots out and having just plain flax to work with. I started hackling the flax, and lost more of it than I had to begin with!

That's the flax that got pulled out on the first combing. You don't want to see what I got with successive combings. *smirk*

That's with only one side hackled. You can see the difference from the left to the right, the left is still unhackled. The whole thing started looking like a horse tail!

And, with both sides hackled:

This is what's left of the original stuff:

Then there's the smooth but lots shorter stuff I pulled out:

And then there's the rolags I created out of the leftover schmutz. Seriously, the processing of flax has a *lot* of waste product! No wonder it gets so expensive! I'm wondering if I should spin this in combination with wool, make a strong wool. The rolags are just too short to make a reasonable linen with.

I took the horse tail and then spread it out in thin layers on butcher paper, criss-crossing the layers, and when I had a bunch of thin layers, I then wrapped fabric around a walking staff (so the flax won't stick to the wood), then gently wrapped the flax "sheet" layer around the fabric, and finally took some ribbon and criss-crossed that over the flax to make a walking distaff.

This is the point where I started trying to spin and discovered the hard way that you need to either be standing or sitting in a bar stool in order to spin off a distaff. *smirk* My husband was amused by this, so of course he had to take pictures:

The fact that I'm wearing linen is amusing me. :)

So far, I've probably spun about ten yards. The current "witch's broom" of flax plus my spinning is looking good so far! I am wet spinning,so I've got a sponge in a dish sitting next to me. The cat is pissed that I've stolen her chair. :)

However, using a distaff does have its drawbacks, like not being able to spin wherever I want. So I'm currently working on another set of baby booties, this time for a friend who's due in october. No pix yet. :)

So fiber projects are back in progress!


Lori said...

You know, you need to create a distaff holder, so you can use both hands for the spinning. It's still not portable, but there'd be fewer things to drop all at once. ;-)

Glad to see how it's going!

textilegeek said...

The distaff holder is usually the underarm. Or the husband. :)