Scout Project: Flax

Linen, a cloth woven from flax plant fibers, was and is used to make clothing and household items. The Aldens owned linen tablecloths, towels, and napkins.

The process of turning flax into linen takes several months. The plants mature in 90-110 days, then are harvested, bundled, and dried. The seeds are then removed. Retting is the process of rotting the stalks to break down the fibers. This process takes 1-2 weeks.

Flax bundles are then crushed on a brake to separate fibers from stalks. During scutching, the fibers are cleaned with a knife. Hackling involves combing the flax through a bed of nails to remove remaining debris and separate out the longer fibers.

These fibers are spun into thread on a spinning wheel. The Alden wheel is still in the Home today. The thread is then woven into fabric on a loom. To make 6 yards of linen cloth, it took 7,200 yards of thread--over 4 miles!

 -Written and read by Maebon Puleio

To learn more about flax, click here (PDF).