We bundled up the flax yesterday to remove it from the field and stop the retting process. At first the report was that all the flax is over retting as we have had a bunch of rain days since our harvesting. Also the report is that this year has been a very hot growing season and there is not as much flax in the stalks to yield.
Upon further inspection and testing we immediately found two varieties that have great breaking strength and dented my fingers pulling it apart, but the lesser harvest per stalks seems to be accurate. All of the flax is spinnable, and in the weaving vernacular, some will be great for warp but some will only be great for weft. When it comes to knitting, all of it should be fabulous for knitting projects, even with breaking, the staple length is longer and the fibres are stronger than cotton. I brought home the dew retted Chantal (white flower) variety to start scutching (by hand for now). I need to find out how much work it will take to make a hat!
When we left the fields after the harvest it looked like this:
Today we bundled it up and the fields look like this:
The large bundles are for processing into fibres and the small ones are for the UWO Field Research station for records.
Everything is carefully tagged and I am quickly learning the names and characteristics of each fibre bundle. We removed them from the fields to store until they can be moved to my farm in Arthur, ON.
It looks like only a little in the trailer, but only about half of the bundles fit in the car for transport!
I had brought some of the harvested Chantal variety home so people can practice water retting (people are back from vacations and we can get started, but I’m working full time, which is delaying things!) A batch of the Chantal harvest was dew retted and the final batch is the upright bundles from the harvesting pictures.
The bundles are in the process of being water tub retted at the field station.
OMG the smell! It’s quite rotten and raunchy! You can see the bubbles created by the organisms that are breaking down the outer fibres.
Helmut is not loving the way this fibre is retting at present, and was showing us how he tests it out from the tub. It is not peeling the way he likes just yet.
I will start taking some videos and close ups of what is happening in the scutching!