Our flax study will resume this year with the much anticipated FLAX PROCESSING DAY on May 26, beginning at 11 AM. Dave has constructed all of the tools we will need and last year’s crop of flax should be retted (or dug out of the snow) by then, so we can get to work turning all of that straw into usable fiber! Because this is a messy process, we’ll do it outdoors, at Louise Young’s property on the banks of the Amnicon River east of Superior. The flax straw will be baked first (in a traditional 80 year old sauna house), then braked, scutched, and hackled until it’s as fine as flaxen hair. It’s a fun process and everyone is invited — you don’t have to be a spinner, weaver, or have grown flax last year. We’ll have soup and fresh bread for lunch, and Dave has promised beverages (or you can bring your own). Wear appropriate working clothes — remember that the process produces a whole lot of chaff! And if you have some retted flax, don’t forget to bring that also!
Since the sauna fire will be going, everyone is welcome to sauna afterwards. Attire is optional but you probably want to bring a towel and flip flops, and a swim suit would be appropriate for the cool off in the river afterwards (there is a road along the other side of the river, and fishermen sometimes stop there also).
Hope to see everyone there!!!
The second installment of the flax adventure will be on June 9 at spinning group (Ruth Maney Room at the Depot beginning at 10 AM). Everyone who is interested in trying their hand at spinning flax is invited to this special spinning session. We’ll have distaffs already dressed, along with demonstrations on distaff dressing. Several spinning wheels will have been adjusted for flax and Dave will point out how these adjustments can turn any wheel into a flax wheel. For the less mechanically inclined, spindles will also be available. Flax is a very versatile fiber: even if you only spin a few yards you can create a strap or piece of “earthy” jewelry.
Oh, and don’t forget next year! Flax seeds will again be available to any member of the guild who would like to plant flax. It’s easy to grow (as long as the deer don’t eat it!) and the blue flowers will brighten your summer. And in the fall, we’ll be pros at harvesting, retting, processing, and spinning this new crop of flax! Seeds will be available after May 15 on the shelves outside the studio, and we’ll have a bunch at Flax day also. Everyone who tried their hand at growing flax last year enjoyed the process, so if you want another crop – or want to try growing it for the first time – please be sure to pick up some seeds!