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Turning Flax into Linen

flax stalkFlax is a crop the frontier people grew for the purpose of turning it into linen to make clothing.

During the Revolutionary War, the Americans were boycotting cloth and other goods from Europe, so it was beneficial to be able to make your own cloth.

flax seedsFirst the seeds are removed from the end of stalk. The seeds are replanted to grow more flax.

retted flaxThe stalks are then dried and retted, which means they are laid on the ground to partially rot.

breaking flaxThe next step is breaking.  The stalks are crushed in between pieces of wood to soften it.

scutching flaxNext is scutching, where the fibers are vigorously whacked with a wooden blade to remove the remaining woody material.

hetcheling flaxThe fiber is then hetcheled by drawing the fibers through a set of sharp pointy spikes. This removes shorter fibers called the tow.

spinning wheelThe fine fibers are run through a spinning wheel to be made into thread.

loomThe thread is put into a loom to be woven into cloth.

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Next: Frontier Life at the Log House