Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flax for spinning

I really enjoyed the show this weekend. I had an amazing time playing with Shelley and all of her yarn. Somehow I managed not to buy too, too much. I did bring home a bunch of goodies though. How can I resist? It IS yarn (and potential yarn) after all.

I'm just sort of resting this morning, drinking coffee, playing on Ravelry, and just treating myself to a calm, restful morning before I dive back into my Kant homework. (note to self: paralogisms, although fun, are not as easy as they first appear)

I'm hugely excited about the flax that Shelley brought down at my request.

Ever since I first realized that human hands can make yarn, I have wanted to spin flax. Don't ask me why this is. I simply feel drawn to it. The flax fibre has a smell to it. Most of the people I've talked to tell me it smells horrid, but I love it (as if you needed more proof that I'm not quite normal). It smells like fresh honey. I'm talking about the smell of a honeycomb that has just been harvested from the hive on a sunny day in late summer. It still smells of wheat and wind and clover, and long summer walks across corn fields. It smells like the summers of my youth. It smells like that beautiful moment when you are out for a walk in the country, munching on fruit, corn or grasses that you have gleaned along your way, you wonder into the middle of a flax field and the world is boundless. For that brief moment you forget that school will start soon, you forget that there are dishes in the sink, you forget everything except that one, beautiful moment when the wind ripples across the grain. That's what this flax smells like to me.

I bought three different types, all unbleached and all produced by Louet.

Euroflax long line stricts:

This stuff is quite course compared to the other two I brought home. I think it must be a hard working fibre as it feels strong and dense. I wonder if I could make a belt out of it.

Water retted flax top:

This is softer and delightful. I think that this is the middle quality flax. It's easy to draft and I think it will turn into quite a happy little yarn.

Softest of all is the super fine flax top:

The fibres are thinner and longer than the water retted top. They are also softer. I think this must have been harvested at a younger age and planted closer together. A sign that it was grown strictly for the fibre and not for the seeds. I think that this will finish up as a very soft but durable fabric.

ETA: Knitty has a great article about spinning flax.


Josiane said...

Now I *need* to smell flax! That was a lovely description! I'm curious to see how you'll like spinning flax. I still have to give it a try too.

Shells said...

Now I want to spin flax, just for the smell! Sounds like it smells like "home."

Cate K said...

I may have a bad batch but the long line flax strick that I have smells of cow manure. The funny thing is that the day I opened the bag was the same day my hubby came home with a fresh bag of fleece. We weren't sure which was stronger! But I happen to love the smell of barnyard, so I'm happy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that delicious 'back when' description of the fragrance of flax. I love it too and have also met people who don't like the smell.

Given the stinky process it goes through, (I know because I ret it myself) it's pretty good by the time we get it to spin.

Perhaps you have to be a farm girl at heart to feel the way we do.