I have an experimental flax patch in my townhouse flower bed. It is about one square meter. My goal with the flax patch is to learn. And every year I do learn – what works, what doesn’t work and what is for the weather to decide. The flax harvest 2020 taught me a lot.
Last year’s harvest was ok. Better than the first years but not the best harvest. This year I sewed my flax quite early. So many sources say so many different dates for sewing flax. The most obvious date is the Karolina Day on May 20th. This is a traditional date for sewing the flax. Preferably by a long-haired young woman without underwear, dressed in at least three white garments and walk with bare feet in high strides.
Karolina Day aside, I try to sew when the soil is manageable. I was a bit late this year, but still a lot earlier than Karolina Day. Previous years I have managed to spread the seeds unevenly and to avoid that I was very focused when I spread the seeds over the soil. In hindsight I realize I may have used too much seed.
Flax harvest 2020
In the end of July when we got back home from a week in a rented log cabin I found plants that had simply withered and yellowed. Others were really low and thin and the overall quality was very uneven. My analysis is that the seeds were too close together, which resulted in some plants dying and some not getting enough room to grow.
When it was time to harvest I was quite reluctant. I knew the quality wouldn’t be good and the thought of pulling the flax made me quite sad. To make some sort of sense of the harvest I started with the highest plants. I was out of those after only four bundles. With pouty lips I paired them up to dry and left the flax patch to its destiny for a couple of days. The remaining flax was far too low and yellowed to make any decent spinning fiber out of.
Processing and retting
For the past few years I have gone to Skansen outdoor museum on their Flax and wool days to process my flax. This year I have all the equipment I need (apart from a seed rippler) to process my flax at home. Also, the Flax and wool days have been cancelled due to the corona pandemic just as many other events. So I will process last year’s harvest one of these days.
Last year a follower asked me to blog about when to do what in flax husbandry and processing, and I thought it was a lovely idea. You can read my flax timeline here.
I haven’t started retting my flax harvest 2020 yet, though. The past week has been very hot and dry and as far as I can see it will continue for a while. I’ll wait until it cools down a bit to give the dew a chance to help me ret my flax.
A grass crown is a hanging ornament made of some sort of plants, usually grass, tied around a twig frame. I use a fresh rowan twig for the frame. This year I have made eight grass crowns in different materials – grass, lavender, and onions. The grass crowns were beautifully wild, the lavender sweet and tidy and the onion crowns just goofy.
Some of them hang indoors, others outdoors and four of them have been gifted to friends – a grass crown to my parents for midsummer, another grass crown for the log cabin landlord, a lavender crown to a friend for house sitting and another lavender crown to a neighbour after bad news about her cancer treatments. They have all been very warmly received. There is something special about a hand made gift. I love the perishability of grass crowns. They will change over time and eventually perish. But the material is free to use and new crowns can be made.
A flax crown
As I melancholically watched the remains of my sad flax patch I realized that I could make a grass crown from the medium height plants. I figured they would be flexible to work with and not break in the bend like some of the lavender types did. And I was right. Tying the flax crown was just a lovely activity. Even though I didn’t get to spin gold out of it I got to spend time with the sweet straws while thinking of flax seasons to come.
Every time I look at my sad stricks of flax I think of my beautiful flax crown. It will remind me of what I have learned from this year’s flax harvest.
The flax crown will also be a symbol of and tribute to the work and experience flax husbandry requires.
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