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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 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.
I was away this week in Washington DC, and the cherry blossoms were in bloom, just as they should be. I walked around the mall and here is proof that I was actually there:
The weather was beautiful. I walked so far trying to see everything.
Now I am back in Saskatchewan, and this morning I woke up to this:
Hmmm, but I got some wonderful yarn at Stitch DC, which makes up for it all.
The black is some wonderfully textural linen from Habu; the grey is silk and stainless steel from Habu; the blue is hemp for knitting from Lanaknits.
I was so excited; I haven’t found Habu yarns at any of the yarn stores I have been to in Canada. I have so many ideas about what to do with it all.
I will keep you posted and wait for the snow to melt.