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Local Fibre production with Flax, Nettles, Broom, etc

 
Brian White
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I am part of a flax to linen project in Victoria bc. (Next sat or sunday there is a flax to linen workshop demo at Saanich historical society.) Anyway, I learned recently that Italians have used Broom for fibre for thousands of years. Linen is retted just by rotting the plant either on the ground with dew or in ponds or in sealed vats. This does not work for nettles! (It rots the fibres). Broom is retted with hot potash.
I have not seen the spinning and weaving section of how to do linen yet . I wonder if we could do "low end" too with the fibre? Like hanging baskets? We tried powerwashing flax to get out the fibres last weekend! It does work, cleans them really well! But it also tangles them up. BOO HOO!
Perhaps a powerwasher would work then to make something like the fibre nets for hanging baskets? Just make a mold from wire mesh and blast the crap out of the fibre in the mold. Basket shape DONE! I think it is mad to be transporting coconut fibres halfway around the world just to hang flowers in.
Any thoughts?
Brian
 
tel jetson
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nothing useful to add, but I'm very interested in what you work out.
 
Saybian Morgan
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I was thinking that flax could be the coconut coir of the temperate zone in our potting mixes. I thought of steam blasting them and chopping up the fiber for potting soil so I'm not importing a product that should stay in the topics. But I don't know much about the flax economy, is the value added in refining it to linen pants or flax itself? flax oil ain't cheap and neither are pants, could its water holding capacity rival coir? or am I blaspheming flax?
 
Denise Lehtinen
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I have thought about growing flax here in Florida, but my (web) research wasn't clear about whether it was too warm here or not. Flax oil and linen from the same plant sounds like a very good deal to me.

The cheapest way to spin fiber is with a spindle. It looks alot like a top -- that toy you might have played with as a child. They can be made cheaply from an unwanted CD, a dowel, and a hook. (But I don't know if that will work well for flax or not.)

Anyway thanks for sharing
 
Meryt Helmer
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this is not a very recent thread. i found it while searching for info on nettle fibers. netters grow so well here and i am very interested in learning how to process them for their bast fibers. also i am interested in ow they compare to other plants that produce bast fibers like flax and hemp. i recently found info on retting hemp with snow and it leaves such lovely pale colors soft looking fiber.
 
Judith Browning
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I've only spun wool and gave it up as too slow a way to provide yarn for my weaving years ago. I wove with a wonderful hemp from ecolution for years and once bought a pound of scutched but not hackled hemp. Beautiful long fibers...I like the basket/planter idea but I don't think bast fibers alone would felt together enough to hold a shape. There are plant based hand made papers...maybe the addition of some sort of pulp could work...even newspaper as in paper mache? now I am off track from your original idea. Back when I wanted to try out everything I retted iris and gladiola leaves for woven baskets..both nice looking and easily available.
A favorite book of mine is..."A Weaver's Garden" by RitaBuchanan. It covers plants to grow for fiber, dyes, soap, bug repellents, etc.

nettles are covered in the book and compared favorably to linen.
 
Judith Browning
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Denise Lehtinen wrote:I have thought about growing flax here in Florida, but my (web) research wasn't clear about whether it was too warm here or not. Flax oil and linen from the same plant sounds like a very good deal to me.

The cheapest way to spin fiber is with a spindle. It looks alot like a top -- that toy you might have played with as a child. They can be made cheaply from an unwanted CD, a dowel, and a hook. (But I don't know if that will work well for flax or not.)

Anyway thanks for sharing


I am pretty sure that flax for oil and flax for fiber are different varieties, just as cannabis for medicinal use and that grown for fiber are.
 
leila hamaya
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i dig flax =) and been growing a lot of it- its sooooo easy to grow.
plant and ignore it, and then you have tons, that will reseed easily. in almost any climate, from what i have read....it doesnt need much water or fuss....

never made baskets or linen, but have wondered how its done. seed oil too

have made paper from it...but not in a while. we used to mix the flax with other softer fibers, or with recycled fiber.....but you can do it by itself.....its much much easier to make recycled paper, cause the fiber is already been processed and by big machines and such.

you can also start with linen (or even cotton, or hemp cloth )
cut this up really small and add it to the pulp....of fresh fiber, or recycled paper. after they process it for fiber for cloth its at a state where it can be made into pulp more easily.

the simple version of making paper from it is to chop it up fairly small, boil it for a LONG time...well not always at a boil, get it to boiling, then let it cool, then boil again repeat for like a day or two....and then put it through a kind of big blender (or just a normal blender).

theres special "beaters" that paper makers use, but a normal blender will somewhat get it close enough. you do have to do it for a long time though....you can get a paper from it in a rough state, not blended and smooshed up as much, but it will have a thick and rough texture to it..the more it gets beaten (also the longer you heat it up and boil it) the smoother and better your paper will be.

now you have pulp that you put into a large vat of water (or a bathtub/sink for the homemade version) and then using deckles (basically a nice screen, can use a window screen to experiment) you pull a sheet of paper....by putting the deckle in the bottom, hold it with one hand near the bottom of vat, stir everything up and get the pulp as evenly suspended in the water....then grabbing the deckle and pulling up out of the vat there will be a sheet of paper on it.

this is the same method for any other paper fiber, though some need lots of boiling (hemp especially and flax too) and some dont take as much beating or boiling.

theres a lot of fine tuning, things you can add, colors, flowers, seeds...."sizing"
and additional steps....but thats the basic gist.
you could even make a cone, or bowl shaped deckle...and then you would pull up a basket like shaped piece of paper
 
leila hamaya
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Judith Browning wrote:
Denise Lehtinen wrote:I have thought about growing flax here in Florida, but my (web) research wasn't clear about whether it was too warm here or not. Flax oil and linen from the same plant sounds like a very good deal to me.

The cheapest way to spin fiber is with a spindle. It looks alot like a top -- that toy you might have played with as a child. They can be made cheaply from an unwanted CD, a dowel, and a hook. (But I don't know if that will work well for flax or not.)

Anyway thanks for sharing


I am pretty sure that flax for oil and flax for fiber are different varieties, just as cannabis for medicinal use and that grown for fiber are.


i dont think so...or really i dont think it NEEDS to be different varieties...though possibly there are some that are preferable for one or the other.
and i could be wrong here...but i think that most varieties of flax will give both good fiber for paper or cloth, and oil, plus seed for food....

with cannabis theres no need to grow hemp. the medicinal varieties of cannabis work fine as a paper and cloth fiber.
hemp is...well basically more because of the weirdness of the medicine and laws and such....

though long ago, before the weird laws- there was an attempt to make certain cannabis varieties better for cloth and paper (sativa- long stems, more stem) and some that were bred for medicine (indica)...but by now they have both been...well you know =)
 
Judith Browning
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Leila, I always love your posts. For a long time I wanted to get a Hollander beater here at the house and use up all of the wonderful rami, linen and cotton thrift store clothing I could find for paper...I never thought about much to do with the paper though except 3D stuff always sounded fun or water colors...
 
leila hamaya
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hey thanks =)
i felt like i was babbling a bit, i do that =) i know..just interesting to me to share and get more info about stuff like this.

paper making is fun, i was super into it for a long time. first it was book binding, then i got a lot of odd sized extra pieces of nice handmade specialty paper from making the books...so i started making paper cause i didnt know what to do with the leftover ends and scraps.

...and later lived at a paper farm with some people doing work like this, learning about it....having nice tools and some presses...and all set up with a big beater.
we were making sensimilla paper, not hemp, because theres a LOT of fiber that gets wasted....that you can get for free...at least here in nor cal. and that was something we were sharing with people, that you can make good paper from the leftover parts of cannabis production...doesnt need to be "hemp". it was a bit edgy...errr something...to be doing so...but ah nor cal. its just weird here =)

and a lot of people didnt neccessarily know that....

and we didnt intentional rot the fiber, but it sometimes happened anyway. then you would reboil it....or the old pulp would get funky but you could still use it again- reboil it.
so still learning....but thats all interesting thats how you get yarn/cloth fiber?
i still dont get spinning/making cloth....

yeah...you could sculpt with the pulp too...never have done that, but have thought about it. ...maybe that would be the better way to make the baskets, or some kinds of pots....

i really like this idea anyway- making paper pots, and especially those hanging basket liners....i've been tempted to buy those before- but they are pricey, and havent.....never thought about making some...i think it wouldnt be too hard as long as it could be a bit rough.

and you can use almost any plant actually....to make paper...but you add that stuff in at a small percent...and theres hundreds of different plant fibers that people have worked with..i wrote something about this once, but dont have it online....
a big paper making plants piece from my research....

we used to make a paper that had local weeds in it...basically clear space for garden or whatever...and take some of the stalks and leaves from any old plant , even other things like usnea and seaweed...add it in at like 10 percent or a little more to a good paper making fiber plant....or to recycled paper.

i would definitely like to get back into this, but i get already too distracted, i have too many crafts ...but this is one i would really like to get a better set up and pick up again...get even more experienced at it....
 
Judith Browning
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I'm really liking the idea of molded paper pots. I've never used peat pots for my young plants and keep using repurposed and reused plastc to pot them into from a wooden flat, but eventually the plastic is still trash. It would be great to use poured paper pulp for this or paper pulp and bast fibers as in the original post. How would you form the shape? I think maybe poured flat sheets and then shaped.
I don't know if this should be another thread topic maybe...homestead paper making
 
leila hamaya
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here some google on retting, scutching, been looking up these words.

http://www.globalhemp.com/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/ages001Ee.pdf

yes, agreed, this is a good idea. and i agree you would want something to hold together a bit more than just rough fibers, and a bit of pulp would work, maybe with some rougher fibers added in. you would have to experiment a bit to figure it all out.

you can sculpt with the sheets after you pull them, sure. it would be good to make them super thick by pulling them up on a deckle, and then let it start to dry just a bit. and then mold them into shape.

or once you pull them- flip them into a mold in the shape you want. a spaghetti colander? a sieve that was rounded? actually you could probably just use a colander/sieve of some kind to pull them from the vat, once you prepared the fiber.

i think you could get something that would work by boiling the fiber for a couple of days off and on, and then using a normal blender. it would be better to have a good big beater. it would be rough, but you would want it that way. you might even want it to be porous?

or as the OP says, make a wire mesh. you would want to make some kind of metal holder anyway, where you would attach the rope. maybe some thick copper wire...

i do have a big bag of flax right now...been meaning to do something with it so i have it dried. the blender take s a lot out of the solar panels battery bank....but i could if i wrapped my head around it and not have so many other projects, actually try this. i really do like the idea of hanging basket tomatoes...i have some in regular hanging planters that are plastic....but the upside ones you can do with the liners are something i've wanted to try....
 
laura sharpe
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I like the idea, let us know how it works...flax fiber as pots.

I wonder how much the red wigglers like to eat your flax, waste as well as the golden fibers.

If I lived in florida, I would look into growing hemp fiber to weave with....You know hemp was one of the first export goods of the colonies here, before the grew cotton. Our founding fathers did use it for its medicinal qualities as well. I wish I could buy hemp sheets, i hear they are wonderful but the cost a mint
 
Brian White
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Flax to linen Victoria is still alive and well, they have a blog at http://flaxtolinenvictoriabc.blogspot.ca/ I have continued to do fiber research but it has been very slow, azolla (which isn't a fiber plant may be useful as a peat replacement. You can find nettle, blackberry and broom fiber information on https://www.facebook.com/groups/312466712172431/ in the old messages. Some people in this area are using young soft blackberry shoots as asparagus substitute while others are trying to rett the old blackberry and use the fiber. Brian
 
leila hamaya
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nice website, good job =)

and thats pretty interesting about using blackberry canes for fiber.
i have just used them as mulch, they actually make an excellent mulch and provide (?) potassium (?) i think...or something i read about once and now forget ...the blackberry cane mulch is good though, that i remember, and provides something rare for the soil. but if you could use them as fiber, wow would that be an epic amount of free fiber.

without knowing much about it, i would think one might use it in a combination with another fiber.

you may have already- but if you havent -you should look into KENAF.

a member of the hibiscus family, which is one of my favorite plant families.
every one of them is edible, the entire plant- seeds, flowers, leaves, stalks and roots of every hibiscus/mallow is edible. actually i think you could probably use many members of the hibiscus/mallow family for fiber. even maybe related manihots too (or okra family)

some links and more info

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/blogs/can-1-miracle-plant-solve-the-worlds-3-greatest-problems#

http://www.binhaitimes.com/kenaf.html
^^^^^theres info on a variety of other fiber plants there^^^^
 
Burra Maluca
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In my region of Portugal there is a tradition for a would-be bride to embroider, using home-grown silk on linen, a bedspread using motifs based on Indian and Chinese designs. The photo below is a 'tree of life', which represents the family, the source of human life. The two birds are the bride and groom. A carnation represents the man, and there's supposed to be a rose to represent the woman, but I'm not sure which of those flowers is supposed to be a rose.

Another variation I read, with flowers growing from a vase, was "the pitcher represents the hearth/home and the tree of life, the newlywed are represented by a couple of birds together or by the symbolic drawing of a man and woman, the chain-stitch stands for the unbreakable chain of matrimony; carnations represent the man, the woman roses. Lilies stand for virtue and hearts for love; tendrils represent friendship, ivy deep affection; jasmine means the virtue of chastity; pomegranates and pines are the solidarity of the family; cockerels stand for the blessed offspring, and lizards are the amulet is a much desired happiness."



The video below is in Portuguese but it's worth a look as there is some interesting footage of traditional harvest and preparation of linen. Interestingly, the song they sing as they are working in the fields sounds just like the one that the old women sing when they are waiting for the bus driver to open the doors of the bus on the weekly trip to the supermarket. Some old traditions die harder than others!

 
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