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    The Chico Flax Adventure

    October 24, 2018

    I tried sowing flax in my garden a few years ago, and it was a miserable failure, so when I first heard about the Chico Flax Project through Fibershed, I knew I had to go there.  

    They were inviting volunteers to help plant a four-row deep hedge along the field, to serve as a windbreak and wildlife corridor, so Lili and I drove up to help. We drove the three hours from Marin County to Chico - a lovely trip especially when the roads are clear. It was still early when we arrived - and everything was ready for planting.

    Sandy Fisher and her husband Durrell own this project, a true labour of love.  

    Fibershed gave a grant to fund the planting of the hedge, and students from Chico State University are helping with the planting, along with experimental plots of flax in different varieties to over-winter, fascinating!  

    Did you know: Flax varieties tend to be called by women's names.

    There were even some woolly friends to encourage our efforts.

    Durrell showed us the ropes -

    Then we started planting the hedge, four rows, each 185' long. The plants are all California natives, and can be used for dyeing - Red Bud, Blue Elderberry, Coffeeberry, California Buckwheat, Salvia Bees’ Bliss...

    During a rest, Sandy showed us the previous year's harvest, ready for breaking.

     Processing flax into linen is a long, laborious process, but it can be done with simple tools. You can read more about the process in our previous post all about traditional methods of turning flax into linen.

    Retting, breaking, scutching, (dragging it through a bed of nails) before you end up with a hank of long, soft fibers, ready to spin. 

    I was allowed a souvenir of one of the giant tumbleweed which had been cleared!

    How will I use it? Such a city girl.

    Sandy is a weaver, and a mine of information. I was lucky to meet her.

    If you want to find out more, volunteer! We had so much fun.  https://chicoflax.com/


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