Antique flax wheel

One of my favourite wheels, Sonja, my Swedish flax wheel.

Berta’s flax has inspired this post.   Look at Berta’s flax group on Facebook to find out more. The project is led by an amazing Austrian woman and based on a dowry chest full of flax. The contents of the chest have been shared to a worldwide network of flax spinners. I will tell you more about the project in my next post.

Today I want to tell you a little about flax and spinning it into linen. 

Flax stooks drying

Flax is produced from the stem of the flax plant, whose latin name Linum usitatissimum means most useful.  

Flax is indeed most useful, it grows well in poor soil in cooler climates and gives fibre for spinning, food from the seeds and oil from the pressed seed for wood preserving and oil paints. Fibres from the stem of plants are known as bast fibre and include nettles, hemp and ramie. The process to transform the plant stalks into fibre is complicated – maybe another post 

Berta’s flax

Once the fibre is prepared it wrapped as bundles of long fibres known as stricks as shown here

Dressed distaff

The stricks are used to ‘dress’ a distaff. There are a number of ways of doing this. The prettiest is by fanning it in a semi-circle of fine layers then rolling it round a distaff and criss-crossing a ribbon around it and tying a bow. It can also be spread out in U shape of fine layers and rolled around a distaff.  

Flax spinning workshop

I had fun with a couple of workshops for our guild. In view of the recent interest in spinning flax I’ve added a flax course too my programme. 


I have had fun making a few videos showing these processes. see You tube links below

Here are a few links to my videos

You tube video of making a distaff

Your tube of dressing a narrow distaff

 YouTube  video dressing a cone distaff

You tube spinning from a cone distaff

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