..I have so many plans for Bendigo Show it is driving me insane, especially this last week, because I had to do that “other stuff”..but all will be revealed just before Bendigo show and it is going to so much FUN !!!!
So, what have I got in store for you this weekend? Well, it is a new blend that will rock your world: my vampire tops. It is a wonderful blend of 17micron merino, cashmere, angora bunny, a bit of black bamboo and wait for it: Flax !!!! Flax or linen, is an amazing fibre, you just have to get to know it better to totally appreciate its history and beauty. It has been spun up and made into cloth since the dawn of time and the beauty of linen is that it becomes softer and more beautiful with wear and age. A truly amazing fibre!
The yellow has proved to be the most suitable for fibre production. Flax that is pulled too early -green - produces very fine but weak fibres. On the other hand , in overripe flax - brown - the stems are strong but brittle but produce too high a proportion of undesirable short fibres ('tow'). When the flax is yellow, the fibres are long and supple, and therefore ideal for further processing. The mature yellow stems were harvested by careful pulling from the soil by hand (flax pulling) to avoid damaging the fibres in the stem.
The pulled flax was stacked in bundles in the field. The next steps in the processing described below are those used for centuries before the industrial revolution, early in the 19th century, introduced mechanization and destroyed the home-based flax industry. The stems were walked repeatedly or beaten with a flail ('swingle') to remove the seed bolls. More commonly their top ends of a bundle of stems were pulled through a 'ripple', a comb-like tool consisting of a row of 20-30 vertical steel pins fixed in a piece of wood which looked like the 'heckling' comb shown below. This process was called 'rippling'. The seeds were then released from the bolls by walking over them or beating with a flail. The stems were then 'retted' by the action of molds and bacteria which removed gums and resins. Retting sometimes was done by simple exposure of the stems to the weather in the fields for 2 to 8 weeks, the time required depending on the weather. This process dissolved the pectins holding the bundles to the central core of the flax stem and to one another.
Care is needed to stop the process before the pectins holding the individual fibres in the bundles together were dissolved. It was important to keep the bundles intact for later spinning. During this period the dew and rains washed away the digested pectin, leaving the bundles lying within the stems. More commonly, retting was done by soaking the stems in a nearby stream or river. Elsewhere the retting was often done by soaking the flax, covered with mud, in water-filled pits for 1-2 weeks. The stems were then rinsed and dried. Retting loosened the bark (flexible fibrous bark) from the bundles, facilitating the next step, 'scutching' by beating with a stick a shown to the left or with the tool to the right. Both crushed the inner woody core of the stems leaving the desired bundles of long fibres intact. This produced about 60% linen flax (long fibres -60 to 90 cm long) 33% tow (short fibres - 10 to 15 cm long) and 'shiv', woody waste formerly used for fuel, nowadays to make chipboard. The stems were then drawn through a 'heckling' comb shown below to remove remnants of the fibrous core and outer bark and aligned the bundles of fibres ready for spinning. Except the planting and weeding, all the above labour-intensive steps began to be replaced in the early 1800s by mechanized processes associated with the industrial revolution.
Harvesting machines replaced manual labour. Nowadays water retting in streams is rarely used because of its cost and the pollution it causes. It has largely been replaced by soaking the harvested flax in tubs of warm water for about a week. Scutching by hand was replaced by mechanical beaters called swinging machines; hackling was mechanized and, of course, hand spinning and hand weaving were replaced by adaptations of the English-designed 'Spinning Jenny'.
For more information on falx and processing and its fascinating history go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax. It even has a link there to a video on processing flax.
Vampire Bunny Tops
this event is a MUST and an absolute fabulous way to catch up with fellow fibre fans ! I will be there with heaps of new hand spun, art yarns, lace weight, sock yarn, bunny mink and angora yarns and much much more...!!!!
also a special pressie for all who come dressed as a bunny....ofcourse!.. and ...a chance to win a very special IxCHeL basket full of goodies to be drawn at 3pm at the venue !!!! yeah!
Gembrook Spinners and Weavers Guild Spin in day
A wonderful get together with heaps of spinners and weavers in the beautiful Gembrook.
BENDIGO SHEEP AND WOOL SHOW!
Friday 19th of July, Saturday 20th of July and Sunday 21st of July
There is a woolcraft schedule available at the farm or you can email Dot : Dotv5@optusnet.com.au. Entries for your fiber art closes on June 14th and there are lots of prizes to be won! Our little IxCHeL fibre farm is sponsoring sections 24 and 25 so get started on your entry to win some very yummy stuff !
Contact me on Ravelry where I am Ixchelbunny, message me on facebook