Flax spinning

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Louise
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:57 pm

Flax spinning

Post by Louise » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:44 pm

Perhaps more an experiment than a project, but still...

Thanks to Abbotsford, I have found a supplier for long line flax (stricks) which means I can now start flax spining. I've ordered 2 bundles of flax stricks, and one of flax tops to see the difference.

The next step is to get a distaff to hold the flax, then repurpose one of my wool spindles and give it a go. I should be fine to make it happen by Blacktown.

The distaff is basically just a stick that the flax is tied onto. From the pictures on this site: http://www.goldenacorn.net/weavers/spinningpix.htm, it looks like a single stick without any noticable fork point is standard. 3 of the 4 pictures seem to be a rounded shape of flax rather than the fanned shape which might suggest a cage underneath to give it shape but I'll experiment and see.

Plan at the moment is to get a wooden broom handle, carve a bit of a grooved top into it to tie to and see how that works.

Louise
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:57 pm

Re: Flax spinning

Post by Louise » Mon May 07, 2012 1:13 pm

Update: Flax arrived a couple of weeks ago. The stricks are in a very pretty twist arrangement which hopefully will be a nice addition to the craft table. The most surprising bit was the smell - the flax smells a lot like horse/stables/rotting straw. Its a very powerful smell that quickly fills a room, stays on your hands, and can be smelt even through double ziplock bags. I'm hoping it will dissipate, but until then I expect I'll be a big hit with the horses after playing with it.

To set up the spining I grabbed an old, fairly solid dowel to use as a distaff and had Hugh carve a ring about 2" from the top to allow somewhere to anchor the ties. Once I work out how to use it I'll trim it to the right length

Following a couple of online descriptions, I laid out a bundle of flax in thinnish layers, then wound the resulting mat around the distaff. I grabbed a ribbon we had lying around to loosely tie the flax to the distaff. It stays well and seems to look similar to the pictures, but there is definitely an art to it and I'll need more practice.

The spinning is proving problematic. The spinning rhythm is different to wool, and the long fibres coupled with the unfamiliar distaff make drafting very different to using wool. My first attempts failed badly and I need to go back to my sources and try again. Hopefully I can master it enough to be walking around with it at Blacktown.

Photos of the flax and preparation stages to come soon.

Elden
Posts: 282
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:27 am

Re: Flax spinning

Post by Elden » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:02 pm

Image

Spinning flax with a short distaff - page 9 of the Anjou Bible (Naples, 1340) http://mul.pictura-dp.nl/boek/

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