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In this five day workshop, we will explore all aspects of traditional flax and hemp  production, from seed selection and cultivation, to harvesting, dew-retting and water-retting, and fiber dressing using hand tools. Students will have opportunities to do hands-on processing work with raw and retted flax and hemp straw, using a flax brake, scutching board and hackles to dress bast fibers into tow and line ready for spinning. 


In the spinning portions of the class, we will learn to spin bast fiber in various forms; tow, commercially-processed sliver and tow roving, and hand-processed line. Working with both hand spindles and spinning wheels, we will learn how to dress a distaff and use it in spinning line fiber. Students will have an opportunity to make a distaff of their own to take home, along with samples of all the fibers used in the class. Students are welcome to bring their own wheel to the workshop, and we will have access to Marshfield's wheels as well as wheels brought by the instructor.  


We will learn about sourcing seed and tools, examine the history of bast fibers in New England, and discuss the current regulatory environment surrounding hemp. We will explore work being undertaken today to revive bast fiber production in North America. 


Students wishing to weave with their handspun bast fiber yarns are encouraged to enroll in Weaving Linen: Flax and Hemp being offered the following week, October 28–November 1.


Prerequisite: None.

Flax and Hemp: Growing, Processing, and Spinning Bast Fibers | Andrea Myklebust

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