raven ranson wrote:My favourite is dew retting. This method is slowest, but it also has the least eco-impact of all the retting methods. It also produces the finest flax fibre. For this, we lay the plant straw or leaves on the grass, and the dew moistens it every morning and the environmental factors work together to break down the pectins.
raven ranson wrote:Retting, especially dew retting, is really easy. I lay the stuff on the grass, flip them every few days, and wait.
When it's done well, it makes all the next steps in fibre processing easy too. Unfortunately getting the timing right takes experience to learn. What I'm going to try this year is to bring in a few stems at different times so I can see what it's like. Some early, some late. Just gather experience for next year's bigger projects.
yes, but yet to totally unlock the code on this one! I did see a huge difference in what the plant looks like come October on a trip to the interior of BC last year versus my coastal locale... the trick as I understand so far is to harvest the stalks when golden yellow- when the latex has gone back down to the roots. (spreading dogbane aka Indian hemp is the same) that was what the milkweed looked like when I was in Kelowna last year and made me realize we were not getting cold enough nights- just wet- so the stalks would rot but not mellow, so to speak. when I harvested a stalk in Kelowna, I could snap the stem and strip the fibres off very easy, the white silky fibres would roll off the remaining outer bark layer when I rolled the fibres quickly between my palms.
Anyone try milkweed aka as butterfly weed?
Retting, process employing the action of bacteria and moisture on plants to dissolve or rot away much of the cellular tissues and gummy substances surrounding bast-fibre bundles, thus facilitating separation of the fibre from the stem. Basic methods include dew retting and water retting.
Dew retting, which is common in areas having limited water resources, is most effective in climates with heavy nighttime dews and warm daytime temperatures. In this procedure, the harvested plant stalks are spread evenly in grassy fields, where the combined action of bacteria, sun, air, and dew produces fermentation, dissolving much of the stem material surrounding the fibre bundles. Within two to three weeks, depending upon climatic conditions, the fibre can be separated. Dew-retted fibre is generally darker in colour and of poorer quality than water-retted fibre.
In water retting, the most widely practiced method, bundles of stalks are submerged in water. The water, penetrating to the central stalk portion, swells the inner cells, bursting the outermost layer, thus increasing absorption of both moisture and decay-producing bacteria. Retting time must be carefully judged; under-retting makes separation difficult, and over-retting weakens the fibre. In double retting, a gentle process producing excellent fibre, the stalks are removed from the water before retting is completed, dried for several months, then retted again.
Natural water retting employs stagnant or slow-moving waters, such as ponds, bogs, and slow streams and rivers. The stalk bundles are weighted down, usually with stones or wood, for about 8 to 14 days, depending upon water temperature and mineral content.
Tank retting, an increasingly important method, allows greater control and produces more uniform quality. The process, usually employing concrete vats, requires about four to six days and is feasible in any season. In the first six to eight hours, called the leaching period, much of the dirt and colouring matter is removed by the water, which is usually changed to assure clean fibre. Waste retting water, which requires treatment to reduce harmful toxic elements before its release, is rich in chemicals and is sometimes used as liquid fertilizer....