There is a growing interest around the UK in flax to produce linen yarn for textiles. It is environmentally friendly, climate safe and, as a plant, has many benefits for our people and land. Our focus is on producing textiles, soil to soil, in line with the circular economy and localisation. Similar to food, we wish to develop artisan fibres, home-produced specialty products in a regenerative, long lasting, low waste approach. To produce our flax we are collaborating with Tyddyn Teg as a co-operative community farm, just around the corner from our space. Keeping it all very local!
Starting in June the project planted seeds at Tyddyn Teg in their regenerative farm fields. We were a bit late as the recommended planting time is April/May. However, we planted about 12 square meters and hoped for the best. Watching and waiting, the flax grew healthy and strong. There was quite a lot of weed but the flax gained height and outgrew the weeds with no problems occurring.
After just over 100 days from planting seed we were ready to harvest. The plants were still pretty green and had quite a lot of flowers, but I am sure we will still get good fibre in the end.
Our harvest day, in mid-September, was dry and still. Pulling the flax is very straight forward and with 8 people it only took about 2 hours. After pulling, the flax was tied into bundles and loaded it into the back of the trusty Berlingo to be transported for storage at our neighbouring farm (thank you Mark Jones from Cefn Llan Fibre Flock!).
The next stage is to start processing with rippling. This is the process of pulling the plants through a comb to remove the seeds. This stage must be done before storing over winter to prevent rodents being interested. If you would like to help in any way keep your eye on our social media as our ‘rippling’ days have yet to be confirmed but will be within the next couple of months.
As we were so late with planting we have decided to leave the rest of the processing until the new year. But as time allows we will continue with dew retting (spreading the flax on the ground to rot just enough to easily remove the vegetable matter), then continue with the stages of processing to make the fibres ready for spinning. This will take place at Tecstiliau in 2023.
We will be running workshops on processing and spinning the fibre and later aim to introduce weaving to make linen cloth from our locally grown flax. Please continue to follow us as we develop our skills and join us to develop yours too!