Nathalie is the name of the seed variety I use for this year’s experimental flax patch. Today is the day I sow them and think about what I learn from them.

Sweet little flax seeds, shaped like almonds, glistening in the sun. The beds in our community garden allotment are ready, soil nutritious, loose and bursting with life. Today is the day I introduce the seeds to the patch, when the maples are in blossom, birches crispy green.

Flax seeds, brown, shiny and almond shaped.
A sweet harvest of flax seeds.

Karolina or Esbjörn?

Tradition says to plant the flax on a day with a female name, the longer the better. Karolina’s day on May 20th is said to be a good candidate, but I am quite confident with my choice. Apparently I chose the day of Esbjörn and Styrbjörn. I am sure they don’t mind. If I were Esbjörn or Styrbjörn I would be honoured to be the guardian of newly sown flax babies. And the seeds have their own Female name, don’t they; Nathalie, half from last year’s allotment harvest, half from the local flax husbandry society.

A hand pouring seeds from a metal bowl into another bowl. The husks scatter in the wind.
Flax seed threshing.

I don’t have my hair down, I don’t sow with a silver spoon and I do wear underwear, contrary to the folklore, but I am a daredevil. I mix the seeds and divide them into the two beds I have prepared. Sprinkle them gently on top of the sun-warmed soil. My heart smiles at a whiff of sheep that sweeps by from the squash bed I have topped with fleece skirtings from shearing day last month.

All that can go wrong

Being an adoptive mother to a flax patch can be quite adventurous – I never know what to expect. Weather, soil, harvest day, drying and retting are all steps on the way from seed to yarn that can go wrong in a number of ways, and a lot of them by my hand. This is the 11th year I grow flax, and every year I learn something new that can influence the result. Still, every time I do end up with spinnable fiber and seeds for the next year, so I must be doing something right enough.

Skeins of linen yarn hanging from a woven band. Each skein has a label with a year between 2011 and 2022 scribbled on it.
My flax patch yarn from 2011 to 2022.

All is as it should be

This little patch of land, just a couple of square meters, teaches me so much. I learn what to look for in the soil, to spot the miniscule difference between sprouts of flax and chickweed, to harvest the thicker edge plants separately and to use a rolling pin and a pillow case to break the dried seed capsules.

A garden bed with lots of light green plants growing in it. A glimpse of the photographer's shoes at the short end.
Come June…

All that can go wrong will eventually do so, and I embrace all that I learn from it. This is my experimental flax patch for a reason, I keep it to learn, to get a tiny glimpse into the vastness of what there is to learn about flax husbandry. With gratitude and humility I think about all the people who have grown flax before me with so much more at stake than just my flax growing pride.

Flax 2024: Weave

Last year was the first year I dared to spin my homegrown flax. During a couple of weeks I spun up all my stricks, year by year. This is the year I will weave with my own linen yarn. I may also dye it with indigo that I have grown in that same soil. Imagine, a linen towel with the experience from seed to yarn from the past 11 years woven into it, and blue. If that is not priceless, I don’t know what is.

Nathalie, grow well. I will do my best to nurture you and make you shine.

Happy spinning!

You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write weekly posts, mainly about spinning. So subscribe!
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden or to book me for a lecture.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons are an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • I am writing a book! In the later half of 2025 Listen to the wool: A why-to guide for mindful spinning will be available. Read more about the book here.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.
Liked it? Take a second to support Josefin Waltin on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

4 Replies to “Nathalie”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post on growing flax. Growing flax is something I would like to attempt. I have also thoroughly enjoyed watching your lecture on ‘Tease Your Wool’ this morning. I learnt a lot even though I have spun for over 30 years. I also appreciate you have it in a format I can return to a watch again too so as to refine techniques. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.