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Well last night was the first night it has hailed so far this year. Yesterday was so hot (please humor me if you live somewhere that gets really hot, I have lived in the tropics, I know of what I speak), and the thunder started rumbling in the distance at about 10:00pm, and as we lay in bed the hail started, and I feared for my flax.
I jumped out of bed this morning and ran out to check on it:
See it is verdant and not in least trampled to the ground. Jon tells me that if it were trampled to the ground it would make me a real Saskatchewanian — because I would have lost a crop to hail. The summer is new: it may happen yet.
The cauliflower is also okay:
Taking pictures of cauliflower makes me think of Kaffe Fassett — he was the first designer who got me really excited about knitting, though I started with needlepoint. I think my cauliflower would be different from Kaffe’s (see Glorious Needlepoint): I think I would put some weeds in mine and holes where the bugs have eaten their share. I made his pear panel, and now it occurs to me that all these years later I still haven’t made in into a cushion or anything.
I like having a blog because it makes me complete things — under your watchful eyes I feel I need to produce something worth telling about. The knitting is running apace, but I am mired in projects I can’t write about. One think I will tell you is that I have a design coming out in Knitting in the Sun by Kristi Porter, which will be published next spring barring a flood or something. I sent the pattern on Sunday, and I am almost finished my sample. I am also very excited to be published in the same book as Stefanie Japel (see here). It makes me feel very accomplished and important.
I love early summer, I think it must be my favourite season — though I suppose that really one should still consider this late spring. I walk to and from work and it is so beautiful that I walk along in a bit of a daze staring up at the trees:
Saskatoon has been very lucky so far in that dutch elm disease hasn’t struck here yet, so all the streets in the old parts of town are lined with elms, but at any time they could all be gone.
On a smaller scale my flax is up and multi-leaved, which apparently makes it more frost tolerant — this is surely ironic as when it is two leaved there is a much greater likelihood of frost. Look at how pretty it is:
I think I may have got a little too excited when I scattered the seed. See here:
Any thoughts on what I should do? I guess I could try to thin it, but there is no where to walk without stepping on flax — I guess rows have a purpose after all, who knew?
I just followed the method my father-in-law told me from when he grew up on the farm: you scatter the seed with your hand. I may just leave it, maybe spindly plants give softer fibre or something.
I have finally got the flax in the ground. It’s a few days later than the middle of May, but spring was late too.
You may have divined that I have no idea what I am doing, but I have been asking around and apparently you can just prepare the dirt, sprinkle the seed, rake it a bit, and water it — who knew?
Here is the all important flax seed and some other stuff I may be able to grow.
For all that I am not supposed to anthropomorphize other living things, and plants don’t really want anything, I figure plants do want to grow and live and will do it where ever they can, so they are on my side.
I was in the Wool Emporium ordering my spinning wheel and Glenda mentioned that some people are growing flax in Saskatchewan for fibre already, and all they do to ret it is cut it down and let it sit under the snow over the winter.
That sounds like it can be accomplished. I was a little worried about how it would work before, but laying it on the ground and letting it rot is something I think I can do.
Note: retting is when you let the stalks rot a little, so the soft part of the stem is gone, which frees the long fibres, which make up the linen.
She also says that spinning flax on a spinning wheel is easy.
I started digging the garden today in my quest for my own home grown flax:
I am quite tired now. I have spent practically my entire adult life living in apartments and am wimpy about digging. I figure that if I dig about this much every day left this week, I will be ready to plant on the weekend.
It is not as hard as I anticipated. I grew up on glacial till, and there are more rocks in that dirt than you can shake a stick at. It might have given me a distorted view of how hard gardening is.
I plan on going to my local yarn store and looking at spinning wheels etc. on the weekend. It’s all coming together.
I have just finished reading Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years – Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber; it was wonderful and transported me through time to see the work all those women did making things to make their lives a little more beautiful. It appears to be out of print, but I was able to order a copy from ABE Books without difficulty.
I loved the descriptions of making linen and wool, and I have come up with the brilliant idea of growing flax in the backyard.
Sure, it may not look like much now, but I will dig it and plant my flax and grow it and ret it and spin it. I anticipate that the flax I grow will not be good for “clothing,” but I can always knit a table cloth or a rug or something from it.
I need to dig the garden soon as the weeds are already growing. You see, last year I let it go “fallow” so there may be a bit of a battle to get this started, but I think it is a wonderful, if somewhat eccentric, idea. I have looked up the Flax Council of Canada’s website and they advise the farmers to plant it in the middle of May, and I plan to do the same.
I’ll keep you posted.