Greencastle continued 

This is the second post on The Fiber Event at Greencastle.  Not only did we find some great fiber, but we met some really interesting people also.  Our favorite by far was Gee Gee, a 72-year-old who sewed the most amazing aprons on her 1918 Singer.  She had aprons from period patterns, and the story behind each style and why they were making them at a period in time.  These are from the 30’s when women were concerned about conserving fabric, and would use smaller scrap pieces for the pockets, or neck-band, and not a lot wasted in flaring out or gathering of fabrics.  The blue one was purchased on my second visit as a gift.

Gee Gee was just so cute that I had to get a picture of her with Andi.  She was very flattered.  She is a hoot, saving her money to buy a computer so that she can research the history of aprons and also read some of her favorite books.

We went back twice, and I got this early 40’s bib apron for myself, the gathering indicates that there was more money available, and they were able to use extra fabrics.

I also got myself this 1/2 apron, a 1950’s “Party Apron” design that uses full 1/2 circles of fabric to create wonderful drape.  I want to have a dinner party  just to be able to wear it.

And then we met Stephen Bowman, the bobbin lace man.  He runs the Bedford College of Lacemaking, we plan on getting a group together in the Fall to take a weekend of classes.  Loved his business card which stated:  “Running naked with scissors and plotting world domination on a shoe string budget since 2007!”  

Just before we left we met this wonderful couple who are reenactors at a historic village in Indiana and were there demonstrating spinning Flax.  The first process is Retting, which is essentially soaking the fiber for a period of time.

From Wikkepeidia Flax article, here is the description of how Flax becomes Linen:

Dressing the flax is the term given to removing the straw from the fibers. Dressing consists of three steps: breaking, scutching, and heckling. The breaking breaks up the straw, then some of the straw is scraped from the fibers in the scutching process, then the fiber is pulled through heckles to remove the last bits of straw.

The dressing is done as follows:

Breaking: The process of breaking breaks up the straw into short segments. To do it, take the bundles of flax and untie them. Next, in small handfuls, put it between the beater of the breaking machine (a set of wooden blades that mesh together when the upper jaw is lowered, which look like a paper cutter but instead of having a big knife it has a blunt arm), and beat it till the three or four inches that have been beaten appear to be soft. Move the flax a little higher and continue to beat it till all is soft, and the wood is separated from the fiber. When half of the flax is broken, hold the beaten end and beat the rest in the same way as the other end was beaten, till the wood is separated.
Scutching: In order to remove some of the straw from the fiber, it helps to swing a wooden scutching knife down the fibers while they hang vertically, thus scraping the edge of the knife along the fibers and pull away pieces of the stalk. Some of the fiber will also be scutched away, this cannot be helped and is a normal part of the process.
Heckling: In this process the fiber is pulled through various different sized heckling combs or heckles. A heckle is a bed of “nails” – sharp, long-tapered, tempered, polished steel pins driven into wooden blocks at regular spacing. A good progression is from 4 pins per square inch, to 12, to 25 to 48 to 80. The first three will remove the straw, and the last two will split and polish the fibers. Some of the finer stuff that comes off in the last hackles is called “tow” and can be carded like wool and spun. It will produce a coarser yarn than the fibers pulled through the heckles because it will still have some straw in it.

And finally spinning it, and after being spun, it becomes linen.

No part of the flax plant is wasted, from animal bedding, fiber for your musket, and seeds which make linseed oil.

I will definitely go back next year, and try to encourage more to join me.  April 19 & 20, 2013.  Did I mention that this is also the covered bridge area?  We did not even get to those.