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Flax Processing - Scutching

When the retted flax has dried, breaking separates the inner core. A flax brake looks similar to a saw horse and consists of heavy hinged wooden blades that fit into wooden grooves in the lower part. Put a large cloth under the flax brake. Open the bundles of dried and retted flax plants. Lay the plants across the grooves of the flax brake and lower the upper part of the brake sharply in quick repeated blows. This breaks the wooden part of the core and should fall to the floor, leaving the clean strick or flax fiber behind.

If the flax fibers are breaking, the flax has been over-retted. The wooden part of the core, called the boon can be used for garden mulch, burned as fuel in your fireplace or can be used in making particle-board.

Scutching

flax scutching
If any boon is left on the fiber after the hackling process, it is removed by scutching. A bat-shaped or knife-shaped wooden bladeboard or blade is used to scrape the flax to remove the boon.

Hackling

Hackling separates the long line fibers from the shorter tow. A hackle is a bed of pins or nails. Secure the hackle firmly to a bench. Hold the flax firmly and one end and comb the fiber through the bed of the hackle. Be careful as the pins or nails are sharp. This is similar to carding wool. The longer fiber left over will be the strick. It should be shiny and uniform in length, with the fibers running parallel to each other. The fiber left in the teeth of the hackle can be removed and recombed to be used as tow.

The flax is now ready for your spinning wheel!

Part 1 – Retting

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This page last edited on August 28, 2012

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All Fiber Arts by Paivi Suomi is licensed under a
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