new video from paul! (permies thread)
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Harakeke - New Zealand flax  RSS feed

 
R Ranson
master steward
Posts: 4869
Location: Left Coast Canada
567
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Different fromEuropean flax, New Zealand Flax is often grown as an ornamental around the world.  A traditional fibre and medicinal plant in New Zealand, this plant is pretty amazing.  The fibre comes from the leaves and can either be peeled or scrutched away from the flesh.  There are many different varieties of NZ flax, some only a couple of feet high, some over two meters.

Today I dug up and brought home my a NZ flax plant, kindly donated by another yarn enthusiasts. 



The first thing someone told me is "you can't get fibre from that, it's not the right type".  Well, you know me, as soon as someone says it's impossible...



I got these fibres from a few seconds scraping.  No, the chicken wasn't any help, alas, she's just inquisitive.  I think NZ flax is a lot like normal flax - there are hundreds of different varieties, and all will give some sort of fibre - some better than others. 

I'll divi it up into several smaller clumps and plant it at different spots around the farm.


Chatting with a friend in Vancouver, NZ flax came up.  Apparently, the NZ flax in and around Vancouver all died due to the unusually hard winter we had.  I was worried about this as growing it here really pushes the zone.  On the drive home, I saw over a dozen big clumps of NZ flax, the same style as the one I brought home.  All of them still thriving despite our hard winter.  They had different exposure, some on the north facing rocky slopes, others out in the open, others protected.  Not one seems to be suffering. 

Some more about New Zealand Flax





New Zealand Flaz for weaving


 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9681
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love New Zealand Flax, it is such a dramatic plant.  I don't have any currently, but just want to say, it is one I covet. 

 
Sue Rine
pollinator
Posts: 289
Location: New Zealand
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are customs around the harvesting and use of harakeke, NZ flax, most of them are related to preserving the resource or keeping the weaving area in an orderly state. Working with harakeke is regarded as tapu, (sacred), by Maori.

http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/topic/3623

http://www.flaxworx.co.nz/How_to.php?pr=How_to&curPhoto=0&curAlbum=#album

http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~bza720/Tikanga/Tikanga.html

 
R Ranson
master steward
Posts: 4869
Location: Left Coast Canada
567
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These are great links Sue.  Thanks.

I trimmed up the Harakeke plants carefully to keep the 'parents and grandparents' intact, and divided them up.  I placed them all over the property at different microclimates with the hope that some will flourish.  If all flourish, I'm in for an interesting time.  Some of the leaves I trimmed, I am keeping for crafting, the rest I've used as mulch around the plants.  Some plants are left to fend for themselves, others have a generous helping of llama berries.  I'm curious which will do better.

I'm also curious about different ways of processing this fibre.  Scraping is all well and good, but it seems to want doing right after harvesting.  Someone mentioned pressure cooking.  I wonder what other ways there are.  There is lots to read. 

Will also be seeking any commercially prepared Harakeke fibres for spinning so I can see the difference between my harvest and the fibre crop.  It seems a renewable fibre with many uses, I wonder why it's not used more often in textile production.
 
R Ranson
master steward
Posts: 4869
Location: Left Coast Canada
567
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Weaving my first basket with Harakeke. 

I know it's ugly, but it is my first basket ever and I'm working on memory on how to make this.  I'm going to need a lot more practice if I'm going to figure out how to make it square. 
new-zealand-flax-basket.JPG
[Thumbnail for new-zealand-flax-basket.JPG]
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!