I don't usually step out of my comfort zone that often, I tend to be a creature of habit however, when I discover a new 'thing' I usually end up jumping in with both feet and then completely immersing myself in the subject. And this is what has happened with my spinning recently. As you know I generally spin wool, and wool from my own flock at that so I am not entirely sure how firstly, I have missed the flax spinning boat all these years, and secondly how I seemed to have been thrown a buoyancy aid and been given a seat in that boat! I have discovered flax and at this point in time I have both feet dangling in the cool water.
So I found myself ordering some seeds and eagerly prepared my seed bed so that I was sure I would be ready when the weather decided to make up its mind whether it was winter or spring on any given day. Once finally sown I checked daily for new signs of life and determinedly removed any unwelcome pesky weeds that would threaten the stability of my beautiful golden flax, when it has finally grown. And as if by some miracle of nature the little seedlings popped up to say hello. I was so upset when I arrived home one day to find two fat pigeons feasting on my precious seedlings and set to to find any available netting to protect them as they continue to grow. So far they seem to be thriving.
Now of course I have to learn the preparation techniques which I believe uses some rather gruesome looking tools and I wonder if I shall have the strength to bash and break the fibres into submission. I may have to choose a 'bad mood' day to conjure up the appropriate atmosphere!
So while I patiently wait (a trait I do struggle with!) I have sourced some ready-prepared flax to test out on my spinning wheel. I understand that the longest, and best flax can be about 30 inches long and should be spun from a distaff or wrapped in a towel to keep it organised. My supply of flax measures about 12 inches and I am finding spinning from the top, as one would with wool, seems to be working well but it has taken a little bit of getting used to as it is necessary to wet it as one spins to really smooth the fibres to create a gleaming yarn. I would suggest using a bowl of water rather than continually licking your fingers as they can become very sticky due to the gummy coating on the fibre - ask me how I know!
So I am sure you would like to know what all of this has to do with a bride. Well one chance Facebook link introduced me to a group called Berta's Flax which is run by a wonderful Austrian lady called Christiane Seufferleine. And I am hooked. I am not just hooked to the spinning of flax but possibly even more to the stories Christiane shares of the bridal dowries of several older Austrian ladies and it is these stories that intrigue me and remind me of the connection that spinning creates between individuals, groups and nations as the group's 756 followers since March 2021 confirms.
The premise of the group is as follows: (courtesy of Berta's Flax Facebook group).